The Essence of Nursing

Nursing is a critical profession that necessitates experts with high degrees of caution and ethics. Nursing education is held to strict standards to ensure that those entrusted with the responsibility of caring for patients will not expose them to secondary hazards (Blais & Hayes, 2016). It is important to remember, however, that nurses face dilemma situations on a regular basis in which they must make decisions. This presentation addresses the content difficulties, challenges, and quandaries that arise in nursing practice.

Pregnancy and abortion are two key ethical quandaries in nursing. There have been debates on whether women who are against sustaining their pregnancies should be compelled to proceed to delivery when time is due. Because of the existence of legislations that outlaw termination of pregnancies, some individuals procure abortions by approaching qualified medical personnel (Johnstone, 2015). The decision on whether to assist the pregnant mothers to terminate the pregnancies is an ethical concern for nurses, who are torn in between accepting the offer in return for a monetary benefit or decline for ethical observations. However, studies indicate that a majority of illegal abortions are facilitated by medical personnel, an indication that a majority of clinical practitioners do not observe the ethical standards.

Another issue that breeds ethical dilemma in nursing is religion and medicine. Some individuals who have a strong belief in their religion are against the use of some modern approaches to modern medicine such as blood transfusion, induction and the use of some drugs. In cases that require nurses to offer emergency services to their patients, situations arise where the nurses are barred from performing crucial procedures because of the resentment from their clients. In such incidents, the nurses face a dilemma as to whether to exercise their clinical duty as prescribed by the medical profession or to listen to their patients. The nurses are made to choose whether to save the patient using the prescribed procedures or to depart from the standard way of treatment and compromise with their patients. Such incidents are common in the less developed word where the population is superstitious and believes in traditional forms of healing.

Apart from the ethical dilemma, nurses also face legal problems. Numerous cases are presented to courts of law worldwide concerning nursing practice (Johnstone, 2015). The substance of the cases normally involve reports of negligence by the practitioners, in which the nurses are sued for not exercising due care in their practice. However, there are also instances where the mistakes made by the nurses is deliberate, may be due to collusion by third parties or because of personal reasons. Regardless of the motive behind the inappropriate handling of patients, nurses are required to act competently when they handle their patients. The law prescribes serious penalties for medical practitioners who negligently or deliberately expose their patients to risk.

The lack of proper facilities in health centers is a common problem especially in less-developed countries (Johnstone, 2015). In such set-ups, the medical practitioners do not have the capacity to give the best care for their patients. Similarly, poor pay for doctors and nurses also kills the morale of the professionals in their work. As such, they fail to perform their work as recurred under the oath of their practice. Nurses who are subjected to such conditions are tempted to boycott work to demand for a better pay and improved working conditions. However, it should be noted that such actions expose their patients to the risk of losing their lives. The decisions they make, therefore, relies on their ethical orientation.

Decision making

In moral decision making, the individual facing the ethical dilemma is forced to make a decision on whether to agree to the demands of an external force which seem appealing to them. The individuals are influenced by temptations, in which they have to make the decision that is best for them. For instance, a nurse who is to make a decision on whether to facilitate an illegal abortion faces the pressure of proceeding with the act. The pressure results from the pity they feel for the individual that intends to procure an abortion. In other cases, the nurse is lured by the monetary gain from the payment for the service. On the other hand, the nurse is also prevented from proceeding with the act by the moral principles and guidelines of their profession. The decision made eventually reflects on the ethical orientation of the professional.

The strictness of the legal frameworks guiding the professional practice of the nurses also influences the possible decision to be made by the individual (Blais & Hayes, 2016). For instance, if the regulations are tough, the nurse is not likely to make a decision that is considered to be morally inappropriate for the fear of getting punished. In most countries, the penalty for unethical practices for the nurses is imprisonment while in others; the medical practitioners lose their certificate to practice. However, there are lenient cases where the practitioners are fined but still proceed to operate as care givers.

What Nurses can do to avoid legal Exposure

Nurses are exposed to legal suits filed by the state and patients who are dissatisfied with the quality of service. However, it is essential to note that these legal suits can be avoided by following certain procedures and using some strategies that cushion the nurses from potential suits.

The first strategy that nurses can pursue to reduce their legal exposure is strict adherence to the clinical guidelines. The law often protects medical practitioners who obey the guidelines issued by the professional bodies that govern their practice (Johnstone, 2015). Accidents that occur within the confines of the procedures do not normally attract legal penalties such as the loss of licenses. Besides, working within the guidelines enables the nurses to avoid instances that can result in prosecution.

The nurses should also consider ethics as a pillar of their practice. The breach of ethical standards is a common cause of action in clinical prosecutions. The law always protects those that observe ethics, and it is, therefore, essential for the nurses to be morally upright in attending to their patients.


It is evident that nurses are subject to strict ethical principles that govern their practice as care-givers. They are expected to adhere to the principles because of the moral requirements of their job. The law also contributes to the adherence to the principles by the nurses. It is essential for the professional bodies to be versatile in ensuring that only individuals with the required ethical standards qualify to be nurses. Besides, the nurses should be trained regularly on the emerging issues regarding the ethical concerns in their profession.


Blais, K., & Hayes, J. S. (2016). Professional nursing practice: Concepts and perspectives. 7th Ed. Hoboken, New Jersey : Prentice Hall

Johnstone, M.-J. (2015). Nursing ethics. Los Angeles : SAGE Reference

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