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Ethical Issues for PhD Prepared Nurses, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 709

Essay

No matter what the level of practice, ethical issues and considerations have been a part of the history of nursing since its inception. Florence Nightingale, writing in 1859 in her Notes on Nursing, for instance, was primarily concerned with the many of the same issues which have the potential to challenge the modern-day nurse: effective communication with patients and others who are caring for the patient, respecting patient privacy and confidentiality, and above all, the primacy of caring for the patient with compassion and competence (Ulrich, 2010, p. 111).  Despite the myriad ways in which nursing practice has changed since the time of Nightingale, these central issues and concerns have not changed nor will they: they are integral to the definition of nursing itself.  This paper explores two of the ethical considerations that can affect nurses at any level of professional development, but may be of particular interest to the Ph.D.-trained nurse.

Coping with the Shortage of Ph.D.-Trained Nursing Faculty

Dealing with a shortage of nurses and nursing staff is unfortunately nothing new to the profession, but it can affect the quality of care the patient receives, the rates of burnout and turnover for nurses at all professional levels and, ultimately, the integrity of the nursing profession itself.  Hinshaw, in her study entitled “A Continuing Challenge: The Shortage of Educationally-Prepared Nursing Faculty”, points out that the reasons for this shortage include the fact that the academic norm of Ph.D.-trained faculty developed later than in other professions and that it reflects the shortage of nurses across the professional spectrum (Hinshaw, 2010, p. 313).  This creates a unique challenge: according to Provision 3 of the American Nursing Association’s Code of Ethics, nurses have an ethical obligation to continue to develop their skills and knowledge base and to promote continuing improvement in the profession (American Nursing Association, 2013, p. 1), but how can this be done properly if there are not sufficient faculties in which to do it?  Hinshaw points out that the shortage of nursing faculty can lead to fewer overall graduates, less nursing research and the overall curtailment of the nursing’s knowledge base (Hinshaw, 2010, p. 320).

Protecting Patient’s Rights in the Modern, Complex Healthcare Environment

Provision I of the ANA’s Code of Ethics states that “The nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity and worth of the individual…” (American Nursing Association, 2013, p. 1), and it is from this provision that the other provisions flow.  This reflect the all-important primacy of the nurse-patient relationship. It is therefore not surprising that, in one study done of nursing stress and ethical considerations, nurses across the board cited the most frequent and stressful patient care issue they encountered in the course of their work was protecting patient’s rights, particularly in regards to complex issues like informed consent, autonomy, privacy rights and end-of-life decision-making (Ulrich, 2010, p. 213).  This is of particular concern to a Ph.D.-trained nurse who will step into a leadership role in her profession, as another study points out that in this immensely complex healthcare environment, “nurses need responsive leadership….to maintain intrinsic motivation, moral sensibility, and a caring stance in the delivery of patient care” (Fairchild, 2010, p. 333).

Conclusion

While nursing has become increasingly complex, technology-oriented and empowered since the time of Florence Nightingale, its barest essentials have not changed, nor have its challenges. At its heart, no matter the level of professional education, nursing remains about delivering quality and compassionate care to all patients, all the time. This is of particular interested to Ph.D.-trained leaders in the nursing field. They will be leading the way in research into these issues and teaching a new generation of nurses about professional competency, the primacy of the nurse-patient relationship and the importance of continually expanding nursing’s knowledge base.  These leadership roles present both ethical challenges and opportunities such as those discussed above.

References

“Code of Ethics of Nurses”. (2013). American Nursing Association. Web. 30 June 2014.

Fairchild, R. (2010). “Practical Ethical Theory for Nurses Responding to Complexity in Care”. Nursing Ethics. 17(3) 333-42.  Print.

Hinshaw, A. “A Continuing Challenge: the Shortage of Educationally Prepared Nursing Faculty”. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing.  6 (1) 313-320. Print.

Ulrich, C. (2010). “Everyday Ethics: Ethical Issues and Stress in Nursing Practice”.  Journal of Advanced Nursing. 66(11). 111-121. Print.

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