Universal health care is a fundamental human right. As the health care field continues to evolve, nurses are encouraged to actively participate in its progress to benefit the field and society.
To accomplish that, they may need guidelines and instruction beyond their medical training. Nurses may find themselves facing challenging situations in which they’re not sure what sort of action is required. The Code of Ethics from the American Nurses Association (ANA) provides a core set of uniform ethical guidelines to help them make decisions that allow them to administer the best health care to populations worldwide.
To ensure nurses can make the best possible decisions, even when under pressure, this set of guidelines—which were first introduced in 1950 and have been updated periodically to keep up with changing times—offers nine provisions. These guidelines are so universally embraced that the code became a nursing model for organizations around the world.1
It’s important for nurses to understand the principles outlined by the Code of Ethics to help them make the right decision when they are faced with difficult situations. Throughout their studies, Loyola New Orleans students have the opportunity to become well versed in the nuances of all nine provisions.
Considering Provision 8
Provision 8 states, “The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public to protect human rights, promote health diplomacy, and reduce health disparities.”
This provision is important because it explains the nurses’ responsibility to be aware of not only individual health needs, but also health issues at a community, and even universal, level. These include societal concerns like world hunger, pollution, the unfortunate disparity of health care resources around the world, and the influence of poverty on health.
Consider the following situation: You’re a young pediatric nurse in a midsize Sugar Belt city where the local population and municipal finances have been hit hard by the decline of manufacturing jobs. To save money, the city switches to a cheaper source of water. Residents immediately begin to complain about the smell and color of the water.
At the same time, over the course of several months, you notice a sharp increase in lead poisoning cases in the children coming to your outpatient facility. You begin to wonder if this is related to the change in water supply, so you speak to senior nurses and the physicians about it and suggest they contact the Environmental Protection Agency. You are met with skepticism about your theory and a “don’t rock the boat” reluctance to get involved with a government agency. Should you contact the EPA yourself even if it means incurring the displeasure of your superiors? Should you continue to monitor the cases to build up more evidence and try pushing your theory to superiors at a later date?
Facing these ethical issues at work will be inevitable. Students of the Loyola University New Orleans nursing collaborate with top nursing leaders to address situations and work towards an ethical outcome.