Following the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines
When it comes to being a nurse, on the outside it can look like the individual is acting cold and sterile toward a patient. Oftentimes we are, but only out of necessity. We are delivering medication, treatment, or performing procedures that help keep patients comfortable and, in some cases, save their lives. We must keep a clear head when this is going on. We expect this when we enter the field. What we do not expect, however, is to have to reassess how spiritual, moral, and philosophical worldviews in an effort to understand how we fit in to the nursing practice. We may also be unprepared to ascertain how our own values or morals may sometimes conflict with what our practice asks of us. It can be overwhelming at times, but these reflections are necessary in order to deliver the best care to the patient, while taking proper care of ourselves.
Concerning my moral compass and its impact on my practice, fortunately my values happen to align with what is best for the patient. For example, non-maleficence is described as not inflicting intentional harm on a patient . My values and morals align with this perfectly. The values behind the patient’s autonomy, which is the right for them to decide which treatment is best for themselves while they have all of their cognitive faculties about them, is also something I agree with. It would be morally unjust if a doctor or nurse were to deny a patient the treatment they wanted, even if they were able to make sound decisions, unless the patient was choosing a treatment that might cause them harm. Agreeing with the primary ethical and moral principles of nursing has a positive impact on my job, as I am able to understand the moral function of my career, and I am able to stand behind it without many issues.
My cultural, personal, and spiritual values contribute to my worldview and philosophy of nursing in a variety of ways. For example, I have always been raised to be accepting of everybody and helpful to anybody. Cultural and spiritually, it has been engrained in me since I was a child. It is a great source of spiritual fulfillment when I know I am helping somebody heal, or when I am helping somebody who cannot help themselves, as well. It makes me feel as though we are all connected in some way. Philosophically I believe we all have a responsibility to help one another because, in a way, we all come from the same place in life. While socioeconomic and race have seen to it that we are separated, we are all still born screaming and naked, not so different from one another. The human condition is to suffer; cannot the human condition also be to save? Many of the people I help are completely opposite from me, and sometimes they are mean at first. After I spend a little time with them, however, I find them very kind and accepting, much like myself. It has shown me that being accepting and helpful are the key ingredients to not only being a good nurse, but also being a good person. Though I am administering treatments, checking vitals, and a myriad of other things the patient needs done for medical purposes, I am also able to listen and connect with the patient. It appears to provide them with a great comfort when they are troubled, or sick.
Though my morals and values align almost perfectly with those in my field, there are still of course dilemmas we face. For example, if a devout religious patient, possessing all cognitive faculties were to refuse treatment assuming the illness was the will of their god, I would be bound by the moral of autonomy. However, I would have mixed feelings. We possess the medicine that could possibly make the individual better; it would be difficult for me not to plead with them to try the medicine, even if it went against something as important to them as their religion. I am, after all, in the business of making people healthy. I have worked with others who did not share similar morals and values as me, as well. They did not understand what the job demanded, and often made suggestions for the patient when they were of sound mind, or neglected to provide proper care if a patient was being rude. I have had rude patients in my care before, but realized as I wrote this I never thought of them as rude. I always considered them uncomfortable, because they were. They were often sick, ill, some of them dying. They were uncomfortable with many other things going on outside the cramped room the two of us happened to be sharing. While they may snap at me for a moment, I knew it was not about me and always made sure to perform my duties correctly and fully because that is what the patient deserves. To do anything else would go against my personal morals
In sum, after considered my spiritual, moral, and philosophical beliefs in congruence with my job, I realize I always try to align the two for a succinct workspace. Given the fact that I am working with patients who need the medical staff’s support, mine included, I considered this to be a good thing. I take the ethics of nursing: autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and respect very seriously. Most importantly, however, was that I never had to learn to take them seriously after I became a nurse. They were always morally justified in my mind as things patients and any other individual was entitled to. Patients may sometimes be more difficult to deal with which sometimes leads medical professionals to treat them less than they deserve. I believe regardless of a patient’s demeanor, I will always hold myself to these standards in an effort to hold myself to the safe and secure moral code that will keep patients comfortable and healthy throughout my career.
Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L. (2013). Nursing Ethics: Across the Curriculum and Into Practice. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.