The Evolution of Ethics in Nursing A Brief History and Application

18Ethics in Actionby Marg Olfert, RN, Nursing Advisor, Policy, SRNAThe Evolution of Ethics in NursingA Brief History and ApplicationWelcome to a new Ethics inAction – I am excited tobegin my role here at theSRNA, and write, this, my first ethicsarticle! I will explore the history ofnursing ethics and then discuss myown evolving understanding aboutethical nursing practice.Ethics is about doing the rightthing, the right way. As such, in ethicsthe means are as important as theends. In nursing, this relates to howRNs ought and ought not to act, so isintrinsically linked to nursing practice(Oberle & Bouchal, 2009).Historically, nursing ethics inCanada has evolved over time. Thevalues of the nursing profession inCanada were influenced by FrenchRoman Catholic nuns, who providedcare for the sick in Canada’s earlydays. Thus etiquette and generalcomportment were highly valued. Thedesired characteristics for a nurse werethat of being courteous, quiet, loyal,obedient and respectful (Oberle &Bouchal, 2009). Florence Nightingalealso considered character to be the keycomponent of ethical conduct, andshe sought such attributes as honesty,kindness, ad truthfulness in potentialnurses (Lamb, as cited in Storch,2007).As nursing ethics were so closelyrelated to the characteristics of loyaltyand obedience, unfortunately it wasalso seen as embodying a primaryloyalty to the physician and theSRNANewsBulletinEthics is about doingthe right thing, theright way.organization, with the patient assecondary (Storch, 2007). By the latenineteenth century, nursing leadersin North America were interested inestablishing a code of ethics for nurses.However, that attempt to create acode of ethics for nursing at a nationalconvention was thwarted when aphysician urged that a code wouldbe more trouble than it was worth,adding that being “good women” wasall that was really needed (Dock, ascited in Storch, 2007).As nursing was becomingprofessionalized by the mid-1920s,the ideal of unquestioning respectfor authority was consideredinappropriate. Ethics began to focuson the nature of the nurse-patientwinter 2 0 1 3relationship and human rights(Oberle & Bouchal, 2009). In 1926,a nursing code of ethics was finallypresented at the national conventionof American nurses, and its purposewas that of creating a sensitivity toethical situations and formulatinggeneral principles to guide action inspecific situations (Mooney, as cited inStorch, 2007). Financial difficulties ofthe 1930s and then the Second WorldWar contributed to the postponementof the adoption of the code.The code of ethics for nurseswasn’t finally a reality until theInternational Council of Nursesadopted it in 1953. Between the1930s and 1960s, it became clearerthat nurses were responsible for theirown choices, and able to exerciseindependent professional judgement(Storch, 2007). Nursing was nolonger considered to be under theabsolute control of medicine, and itwas becoming clear that nurses hadresponsibility for decision-makingabout their own practice (Oberle& Boucahl, 2009). Since that time,The code of ethicsfor nurses wasn’tfinally a reality untilthe InternationalCouncil of Nursesadopted it in 1953.I believe that theapplication of the codeto individual nursingpractice continues toevolve as well.nursing ethics has been viewed asunique and distinct from medicalethics, and has continued to evolve.I believe that the application of thecode to individual nursing practicecontinues to evolve as well. Considerconfidentiality and privacy. In ourinitial basic nursing education, wewere all instructed on the importanceof maintaining confidentiality in ournursing practice. As I reflect on myearly nursing career, I recall learninghow to put this theory into practice.In my first full-time, permanentposition as an RN in a regionalhospital almost thirty yearsago, I learned how to maintainconfidentiality in a small community.Everyone knew everyone, and tendedto stop you in the grocery store to askabout someone they knew that hadbeen hospitalized. I recall discussingsuch situations with my nursingcolleagues and coming to somedecisions about what to do. Overtime, I learned how to respond to thequestions, while not appearing to berude.In this same setting, all patientswere given the option of signingconsents when they were admittedto hospital, allowing their nameand condition to be announced ona local radio program each day. AsRNs on the night shift, we thenprovided an update for the localradio reports each day as to theircondition. This included a briefdescription – the patient status wasdescribed as “progressing favourably”,or “satisfactory”, or “fair”. As anew RN, I wondered about thispractice, and usually determined eachpatient was “progressing favourably”even if I knew their condition wasdeteriorating. Thus I wondered aboutthe usefulness and, yes, the ethics ofthe radio report, but the communityseemed to value the information.Years later, in my teaching career,maintaining confidentiality andprivacy about patient informationtook on a different application.The impact of social media wasprevalent as students learned aboutconfidentiality and maintainingprivacy. What should be shared andwith whom? Communication byWhile the code of ethicswill continue to evolveover time, I know thathow I apply it to mynursing practice willalso evolve.SRNAelectronic means was becoming somuch more social and communal –experiences between students wereshared instantly and frequently, andstudents did not always know how toconsider the values of privacy in theirday to day practice. Students, like meyears earlier, accepted the principlesof ethical practice but the applicationof those values and principles wasmore challenging, and often requiredguidance and discussion.While the code of ethics willcontinue to evolve over time, I knowthat how I apply it to my nursingpractice will also evolve. It is thisafter all that helps to define ourprofession and informs others of theresponsibilities that RNs accept intheir practice (CNA, 2008).ReferencesCanadian Nurses Association. (2008). Codeof ethics for registered nurses. Ottawa,ON: Author.Oberle, K., & Bouchal, S. R. (2009). Ethics inCanadian nursing practice: Navigatingthe journey. Toronto: Pearson PrenticeHall.Hardingham, L. (2003). Ethical and legalissues in nursing. In M. McIntyre &E. Thomlinson (Eds.), Realities ofCanadian nursing: Professional,practice, and power issues (pp. 339356). Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams,& Wilkins.Storch, J. (2007). Enduring values inchanging times: The CNA code of ethics.Canadian Nurse 103(4), 29-33, 37.NewsBulletinwinter 2 0 1 319Copyright of SRNA Newsbulletin is the property of Saskatchewan Registered NursesAssociation and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to alistserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print,download, or email articles for individual use.

Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
$0.00
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with Essay Fountain
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
Testimonials
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
Tourism
thank you
Customer 452933, November 20th, 2021
Nursing
The second attempt was an unplagiarized paper. Thank you
Customer 452545, September 25th, 2020
Sociology
I have never experienced receiving a paper past the due date and time. That is the only thing that displeases. I don't have time o Overall, your team does a great job.
Customer 452919, November 18th, 2021
Ethics
Since I will be needing assistance from your Team, please do not block me from editing the paper. The entire did an awesome job on last semester and I never once encountered a situation as such. Thank you for your assistance and I look forward to working with the Team for the next 7 weeks of the semester.
Customer 452919, January 15th, 2022
Nursing
n/a
Customer 452725, April 23rd, 2021
Biology (and other Life Sciences)
Thank you
Customer 452995, November 22nd, 2021
Psychology
Paper was received before time which I was quite please with.
Customer 453101, June 18th, 2022
Business Studies
I had no idea what to do here and you nailed it! Thank you so much!
Customer 453131, November 21st, 2022
Economics
Satisfactory
Customer 452963, November 11th, 2021
Psychology
Awesome work!
Customer 452521, June 27th, 2020
Nursing
Fabulous fast service
Customer 453075, April 21st, 2022
Psychology
Communication on the small delay was appreciated and final result was worth the wait. Thank you.
Customer 452665, March 18th, 2021
11,595
Customer reviews in total
96%
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
37%
Customers referred by a friend
OUR GIFT TO YOU
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat