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Seven Components of Ethics in Nursing


Nurses effectuate hundreds of critical, health-related tasks every day. In some cases, these decisions test their professional and personal morality. Nursing ethics codes help caregivers to maintain a safe recovery setting and remember to consider patient needs from several viewpoints. Guidelines remind the caregivers to treat all patrons equally and individually while protecting their privacy in ways that may not seem overtly obvious. These recommendations also implore caregivers to seek justice for convalescents and to take full responsibility for their work.

Trials Faced in a Noble Profession

Professional nurses are sometimes ethically challenged in the workplace. [1] In a report drafted by United States Air Force Colonel John Murry, PhD., the healthcare educator visits the topic of moral courage in the healthcare field. He relates that morally courageous healthcare professionals make ethical decisions, even if they are alone in their beliefs. Nurse practitioners exercising this trait strive to exercise ethical behavior, as outlined in nursing codes of ethics, regardless of negative personal outcomes, which may include, but are not limited to:
• A tainted reputation
• Embarrassment
• Angst
• Ostracism by peers
• Employer or peer backlash
• Career endangerment or loss

Murry’s report also stresses how important it is for nurses to practice professional humility and flexible thinking. Ethics codes encourage healthcare professionals to incorporate these moral guidelines into their personal lives as well. [2-4] Nursing association ethics codes contain several common components:

Moral practitioners create a safe, nonviolent caregiving environment. [2-4] When unforeseen danger occurs, nurses take action to protect their clients and themselves. They also express empathy with words and mannerisms, while at the same time forming real connections with their patients. [4] These relationships foster a dialogue that helps healthcare professionals find care solutions efficiently.

Component Two: Healing the Whole Person

Responsible nurses promote physical, mental and spiritual - or whole person - healing as a primary tenet. They network with other healthcare professionals to meet this goal as efficiently as possible and to mitigate threats to this practice, such as public health initiatives that misalign with community health needs. This philosophy helps nurses produce the best possible health conditions for clients.

Nursing ethics codes set forth that people have the right to decide how they want treatment and with as much or as little information as they desire; however, it is important that they are mentally fit. If they are not, nurses help them with the decision-making process. Despite any possible outcomes, ethical nurses support these decisions.

Component Four: Recognizing Individual Value

Caregivers educate themselves about the individuals and communities they service, taking corrective action if their peers do not follow this same standard. Additionally, nurses treat everyone with respect and maintain appropriate professional boundaries at all times.

Component Five: Keeping Patient Information Confidential

The codes also emphasize how important it is to keep case details confidential. This guideline goes beyond making sure that unauthorized persons do not gain access to private records. The codes encourage caregivers to discuss cases only when others will not hear their dialogue. This especially applies in the care setting where nearby staff or patrons may overhear others’ personal details.

Component Six: Making Sure Patients Receive Fair Treatment

Nursing ethics codes promote fair treatment towards all individuals and denounce discrimination or judgment for any reason. Particularly, this includes making sure that they distribute limited resources based on need. By exercising fair treatment, caregivers create trusting relationships with their clients.

Component Seven: Ethical Accountability

Nursing professionals take responsibility for their actions and their practice. They are honest and exercise strong moral workplace practices. Code-honoring nurses never attempt to provide services beyond their proficiency. Finally, ethical nurses maintain their health so that they can provide the best possible service.

Patients rely on nurses to make ethical decisions regarding their care. However, making the right decision is not always easy. To help nurses face these challenges with integrity, various trade advocates issue ethics codes that exemplify ideal nursing practice standards. Nurses follow these codes to help them remember that each client has unique needs and remind them to remain unbiased while serving clients. These standards serve as a beacon that caregivers refer to when faced with dilemmas regarding patient care and help nursing staff members serve individual and community interests by attaining the best health related outcomes possible.

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Adventist University started building its solid foundation for nursing education in 1908 when it began training nurses so healthcare could be provided for more people. Today they offer cutting edge education and experienced faculty dedicated to helping individuals interested in pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing degree.


1. Colonel John S. Murray P. Moral Courage in Healthcare: Acting Ethically Even in the Presence of Risk. American Nurses Association [Web Page]. 2010. Available at: Accessed 2016.
2. International Councill of Nurses. ICN – International Council of Nurses. International Council of Nurses [PDF]. 2012. Available at: Accessed 2016.
3. Brown JW LVSE. Code of Ethics 2015 Part 1. American Nurses Association [PDF]. 2015. Available at: Accessed 2016.
4. Canadian Nurses Association. Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses. Canadian Nurses Association [PDF]. 2008. Available at: Accessed 2016.