Ethics form the foundation for nursing practice

The Foundation of Nursing Practice

The foundation of nursing practice is ethics. The ANA code of ethics is guided by nine provisions (American Nurses Association, 2015). The first provision requires the nurse to respect human dignity (ANA, 2015). The functional condition of a person should not be used to determine their worth. It highlights the notion of autonomy, stating that before beginning therapy, a patient's informed agreement is required.

Interdisciplinary Teamwork and Professional Boundaries

The second provision emphasizes interdisciplinary teamwork as well as the importance of professional boundaries between the nurse, the patient, and the nurse's colleagues (ANA, 2015). Partnership should be oriented on the patient's best interests. Where a conflict of interest occurs in the workplace, conflicts should be solved in a way that safeguards the patient's safety and interests while maintaining professional integrity.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Nurses should ensure privacy and confidentiality in matters pertaining the patient welfare as outlined in the third provision. Jeopardizing a patient's privacy can cause the patient to hesitate sharing information that would be pertinent in designing the best plan of care (ANA, 2015). In some cases, however, such as in public health concerns, a nurse may share information within the bounds of law so as to protect other patients. When required to participate in research, a patient's informed consent should be sought.

Accountability and Competence

The next three provisions address the division between a nurse's duties and loyalty while the last three highlight issues that are beyond encounters with individual patients. The fourth rule requires the nurse to be accountable for their actions and the actions of those whom they have delegated (ANA, 2015). It enhances trust bestowed upon the nurse in nursing practice. Maintaining competence and advancing in professional growth are the hallmarks of provision five. Where compromise of integrity is inevitable, it should only be compromised in a way that the values of the profession are still upheld. The sixth provision stresses the nurse's role in facilitating the improvement of the healthcare environment. Nurses have an obligation of ensuring sustained advancement of the nursing profession as outlined by the seventh provision. The eighth clause describes the nurses' role in collaborating with other stakeholders at the macro level in ensuring that global health needs are met (ANA, 2015). Nurses should make their values known so as to ensure that the profession's integrity is preserved besides being involved in making national reforms as the ninth provision stipulates.

Similarities and Differences with Catholic Directives

The Catholic directives and the code of ethics have similarities and striking differences. Both injunctions recognize the need for nurses to offer health care services to those requiring them. They advocate for mutual respect among colleagues besides the compliance with human dignity (Catholic Health Association, 2009; International Council of Nurses, 2012). Both champion for patients' informed consents while making health care decisions. The obligation to offer care to the vulnerable groups indiscriminately is emphasized. Commitment to human dignity and provision of the best health care possible are advocated (CHA, 2009; ICN, 2012). However, the Catholic directives forbid therapeutic experimentation to a person even if it may prove helpful therapeutically (CHA, 2009). Heterologous fertilization is prohibited as it contravenes biblical teachings. Surrogate motherhood is forbidden as it breaches the nobility of the child. Natural family planning methods take precedence over contraception. Euthanasia is not condoned as people should die natural deaths (CHA, 2009). On the other hand, ICN and ANA code of ethics are similar in that patient care focuses on mitigating suffering (ANA, 2015; ICN 2012). Equality, confidentiality, and patient respect are universal values in both codes. Both emphasize on the protection of a patient's moral space (ANA, 2015; ICN 2012). The main difference is in their composition whereby the ANA code is composed of nine provisions while ICN consists of four key elements.


Different code of ethics has been formulated to offer ethical guidelines for the nursing profession. Despite their heterogeneity, they should be followed to ensure the provision of compassionate patient care.


American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Nurses’ book. org.

Catholic Health Association. (2009). Ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care services. Origins, 31(9), 153-155.

International Council of Nurses. (2012). The ICN code of ethics for nurses. International Council of Nurses.

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