The Environment and Ethical Obligation

The Environment and Ethical Obligation

Virtues focus on what is good and bad in regard to whom we are to be as moral persons; obligations focus on what is right and wrong or what we are to do as moral agents. Obligations are often specified in terms of principles such as beneficence or doing good; nonmaleficence or doing no harm; justice or treating people fairly; reparations, or making amends for harm; fidelity, and respect for persons. Nurses, in all roles, must create a culture of excellence and maintain practice environments that support nurses and others in the fulfillment of their ethical obligations.

Environmental factors contribute to working conditions and include but are not limited to: clear policies and procedures that set out professional ethical expectations for nurses; uniform knowledge of the Code and associated ethical position statements. Peer pressure can also shape moral expectations within a work group. Many factors contribute to a practice environment that can either present barriers or foster ethical practice and professional fulfillment. These include compensation systems, disciplinary procedures, ethics committees and consulting services, grievance mechanisms that prevent reprisal, health and safety initiatives, organizational processes and structures, performance standards, policies addressing discrimination and incivility position descriptions, and more. Environments constructed for the equitable, fair, and just treatment of all reflect the values of the profession and nurture excellent nursing practice.

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9.2 Integrity of the Profession

The values and ethics of the profession should be affirmed in all professional and organizational relationships whether local, inter-organizational, or international. Nursing must continually emphasize the values of respect, fairness, and caring within the national and global nursing communities in order to promote health in all sectors of the population. A fundamental responsibility is to promote awareness of and adherence to the codes of ethics for nurses (the American Nurses Association and the International Council of Nurses and others). Balanced policies and practices regarding access to nursing education, workforce sustainability, and nurse migration and utilization are requisite to achieving these ends. Together, nurses must bring about the improvement of all facets of nursing, fostering and assisting in the education of professional nurses in developing regions across the globe.

The nursing profession engages in ongoing formal and informal dialogue with society. The covenant between the profession and society is made explicit through the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, foundational documents, and other published standards of nursing specialty practice; continued development and dissemination of nursing scholarship; rigorous educational requirements for entry into practice, advanced practice, and continued practice including certification and licensure; and commitment to evidence informed practice.

ReferenceThe Environment and Ethical Obligation

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