System of Inquiry Paper
Wendell A. Garcia
University of Phoenix
March 18, 2008
American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics for Nurses
Ethics is an integral part of the foundation of nursing. Nursing has a distinguished history of concern for the welfare of the sick, injured, and vulnerable and for social justice. This concern is embodied in the provision of nursing care to individuals and the community. Nursing encompasses the prevention of illness, the alleviation of suffering, and the protection, promotion, and restoration of health in the care of individuals, families, groups, and communities. Individuals who became nurses are expected not only to adhere to the ideals and moral norms of the profession, but also to embrace them as a part of what it means to be a nurse. The Code of Ethics for Nurses developed by the American Nurses Association (ANA) makes explicit the primary goals, values, and obligations of the profession (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2001). What makes a code of ethics an important for nurses? Generally, a code of ethics serves and functions as a tool for professional self-definition. As nursing continues to strengthen its model of professionalism, the relationship between that model and a code of ethics must be seriously considered. The mere existence of a code provides a positive argument that a group self-identifies as “professional,” not just as occupational. In fact, the formulation of “a code of ethics itself is commonly taken to be one of the defining marks of a profession (Alexandra & Woodruff, 1990). Professionals recognize that they must embrace specific responsibilities and obligations to those they serve to legitimately call themselves professionals. A code, then, functions as a reminder of these duties to both the practitioner and the public. Nurses in today’s health care environment are faced with multiple ethical challenges which are related either directly or indirectly to cost-conscious hospitals, managed care payment plans, nursing staffing problems, the looming nursing shortage, and complex medical conditions that affect not just individuals, but the whole communities. In the current health care delivery system, the relationship between nurses and patients has been challenged more than ever. Nurses face “ethical issues and stresses in intra- professional and inter- professional relationships not envisioned in years past” (Walleck, 1989). The code is available to help nurses navigate this new “moral paradigm” in an era “when hospitals have become marketplaces” (Curtin, 2000). The nursing profession is challenged to assume a new mantle of leadership and relocate the patient at the center of health care. The Code is the promise that nurses are doing their best to provide care for their patients and their communities while supporting each other in the process, so that all nurses can fulfill their ethical and professional obligations, as well as meet their own professional and career goals. In the midst of these challenges, the Code of Ethics exists as concrete evidence of nursing’s thoughtful and considered ethical commitments. Although nurses are still committed to caring, they can no longer “care” at the expense of being disempowered in relationships and systems (ANA, 2001). Good Governance
The American Nurses Association (ANA) is a national professional association. State law, rules, and regulations govern the practice of nursing, while the Code of Ethics guides nurses in the application of their professional skills and personal responsibilities. ANA is the only full- service professional organization representing the nation’s 2.9 million Registered Nurses through its 54 constituent member associations. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and...