Wit is the story of Dr. Vivian Bearing, and English professor, who is diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. In the opening scene her oncologist, Dr. Kelekian, states “You have terminal cancer” and it is at this point that her world suddenly changes. The film takes us on Vivian’s illness journey and the treatment she undergoes consisting of eight months of aggressive experimental chemotherapy (Bosanquet & Nichols, 2001). As the story unfolds, issues arise which are relevant to the nursing profession regarding the ethics behind experimental medical research and a nurse’s obligation to promote appropriate treatments, to foster minimal suffering and advocate for a patients health and well-being.
Nurses will work with patients who have heard life changing diagnoses and they need to ensure the protection and promotion of the well being of their patients. Nurses will encounter ethical dilemmas that can be challenging to morally decide on the correct action, but following professional guidelines can assist in making appropriate decisions. The Nursing Code of Ethics (Canadian Nursing Association, 2009) is a fundamental tool to the nursing profession, and it can help guide nurses who are faced with ethical decisions and assist in ensuring clients are receiving care and treatment that is morally correct. The purpose of this assignment is to discuss the “lack of dignity” that is evident in the movie and the significance dignity plays regarding ones nursing practice. The strengths and limitations of using film as a teaching modality for a nursing ethics will also be discussed.
The Concept of Dignity
The word Dignity is often used to suggest that someone is not receiving a proper degree of respect. In a deeper philosophical sense, it means the value that each human being has simply because each is human (Shestack, 1998). Although unintentional, Professor Vivian Bearing's journey, throughout the film, is towards a deeper sense of dignity in the face of the “countless indignities” she faces. A few examples of these indignities in the film are; the physical exam preformed by her former student, the Friday grand rounds with the interns, and the continuous afterthoughts of “thank you” following visits to and from various medical personnel.
Significance to Nursing Practice
When observing the “lack of dignity” depicted in this film from a nursing perspective, the significance of advocacy and client dignity are clearly evident. As nurses, we must intervene if other healthcare providers fail to respect the dignity of the client or choose not to follow their wishes when it comes to their decisions. Patient autonomy and rights as individuals are standards all nurses and healthcare professionals must respect and uphold. Patients, such as Vivian, have the right to refuse treatment, and nurses have the legal obligation to respect this decision, and ensure the principle of autonomy is respected even if refusing treatment could result in...