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Ethics in Action: Considering Provision 5 in the ANA’s Nursing Code of Ethics

Ethics is the foundation of health care. Attending to the health of individuals, some of them in dire circumstances, involves big decisions including those in which right and wrong aren’t completely clear-cut.

The American Nurses Association’s (ANA’s) Code of Ethics serves as an important guide to ethical principles in the field. The provisions in the Code provide a solid foundation for understanding ethical decision making in nursing. Many situations still exist in a gray area, though, so it’s important to reflect on the Code and consider possible scenarios before they happen.

Provision 5 focuses on the importance of self-care for nurses. It states: “The nurse owes the same duties to self as others, including the responsibility to promote health and safety, preserve wholeness of character and integrity, maintain competence, and continue personal and professional growth.”

Considering Provision 5

Nurses work in a high-stress environment in which they must prioritize others’ needs. Provision 5 states that this must not come at the expense of their own. Between long hours, vulnerable patients, and a demanding environment, nurses may find it hard to make time for themselves. Worse, they may feel pressured to go against their own values.

Nurses must treat themselves with the respect they give their patients. This means eating well, getting rest, exercising, and meeting emotional needs. Sometimes it means feeling free to voice opinions and beliefs in an appropriate way, particularly when those opinions pertain to your ability to be the best nurse you can be. Nurses should also work toward continual personal and professional growth.

Vexing Scenario
Even self-care can be a complicated issue. Consider this situation.

Linda had just started her new nursing job at a long-term-care facility. She loved it. She instantly developed a rapport with a number of the patients, and dedicated the majority of her time and energy to her new job, even taking on extra shifts and tasks, or staying after work to finish paperwork. She was excited to use her skills, work with patients, and impress her new managers.

Everything seemed to be going well, but after a few months she started to feel drained. She had gained weight from eating poorly and stopping her exercise routine, and she rarely felt like talking to friends after work. She hadn’t intended to dive so deeply into her job, and now she was finding it harder and harder to go to work each morning.

To achieve a healthier work-life balance, Linda cuts down on her overtime hours. After she does so, however, a number of patients complain that they don’t see her as often anymore, and she feels she’s let them and her managers down.

How can Linda work to rebalance her life? How can she explain her less-frequent visits to patients? How can she give full expression to her natural enthusiasm while avoiding fatigue?

Have you been faced with some of these questions? As a student of Loyola University New Orleans, nurses are posed with these questions and are given the opportunity to adjust the outcome with top professionals.

Learn about Loyola University New Orleans nursing programs offered online. They offer programs for RN to BSN, MSN, DNP and several bridge programs with different specializations you can choose from. Request more information to find out what program is right you!