1. Lockhart, Lisa MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC


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Q: Nursing's code of ethics is an integral part of our practice standards. What are the must-know principles for nurses?

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A: To be effective as a profession, nursing requires an accredited education process, a system for licensing and certification, and a code of ethics to guide practice. The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements helps us maintain professionalism, integrity, and accountability. Initially, nursing ethics outlined what were believed to be desirable virtues or values for nurses in the late 19th century. These early values focused on physician relationships and conduct; however, nursing's code of ethics has evolved to champion patient advocacy.


In 2015, the ANA revised the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements and declared 2015 as the year of ethics in nursing. The revised code emphasizes that nurses function as advocates first and foremost, with ethical considerations at the clinical, organizational, and societal level.


The first four provisions present the most fundamental values of nursing practice: to practice with compassion and respect for the uniqueness of each individual; to have a primary commitment to the patient; to promote, advocate, and protect the patient's rights, health, and safety; and to have accountability and responsibility for nursing practice.


Provisions 5 and 6 discuss practice boundaries: to have the same duty to self as to others and to maintain an ethical and safe work environment.


Finally, the last three provisions focus on duties that go beyond bedside practice: to advance the profession, to collaborate with other healthcare professionals in the reduction of health disparities, and to integrate social justice into healthcare policy.


Know the code of ethics and understand how it applies to your daily practice. It's also important to be familiar with the reporting process for ethical concerns and requests for consideration in your organization. Explore available educational offerings and dialogue with your peers to support the ethical provision of care as part of your personal and professional growth and development. This is especially applicable to the 2017 Nurses Week theme "Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit." Happy Nurses Week!




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Winland-Brown J, Lachman VD, Swanson EO. The new 'Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements' (2015): practical clinical application, part I.