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Nursing Profession: The Code of Ethics

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The concept of moral distress can be defined in a number of different ways. Generally speaking, when individuals make moral decisions about the right course of action in a situation but are unable to carry it out, they will experience moral distress. A man by the name of Andrew Jameton defined moral distress in 1984 as “a phenomenon that arises when one knows the right thing to do, but institutional constraints make it nearly impossible to pursue the right course of action” (Nursing Forum, 2007). Because of their particular position in the medical world and their conflicting responsibilities, nurses are especially prone to experiencing moral distress. Whether they are aware of it or not, nurses are becoming more and more involved in making ethical decisions regarding their patients. However, the doctor’s policy always rules over the nurse and the patient’s wishes must always be respected. The consequences of not being heard by fellow co-workers or having your plan of action overruled by other policies can often be frustrating and upsetting for a nurse. While there is no data that directly connects the effects of moral distress and the quality of care nurses give, it can be inferred that the feelings of moral outrage, frustration, and anger cause nurses to care for patients in a less effective way. A nurse who is at conflict with him/herself and those that surround him/her will experience difficulties in treating a patient with the best care.
To be involved in the nursing profession, you must abide by the Code of Ethics provided for nurses. Nurses must hold the good of the patient as its most important value; this is the ultimate goal in the nursing profession. They must treat each patient as an individual, care for them with respe...

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...ough their beliefs are being violated. Silence is usually the first sign of a morally distressed nurse. As stated earlier, they feel powerless so they do not feel like they can speak up to whomever they need to. There is no real solution to moral distress and some nurses get burned out and leave the field they are in or even the profession. There is no happy outcome when it comes to it; you either deal with it or get out. In a recent study done by Mary C. Corley, two groups of ICU nurses were surveyed. In the first group, 18% of the nurses had considered or actually left their field of study due to moral distress. In the second, 26% of the nurses had left their previous field because of distress (Hamric, Davis, Childress p. 2).
Are nurses being put under too much pressure in the work field or is it the education they received before getting out into the real world?
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