Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Profession

When confronting ethical issues, nurses should always strictly distinguish the difference between morality and ethics. Ethics and morality are two different ideas, and dilemmas related to ethics or morality should not be confused (Rainer et al., 2018). Ethical dilemmas include the decision that should be made for or against one of the two equally good or bad choices. Moral decisions are usually driven by the personal or/and religious beliefs of the person. At the same time, decisions based on ethical principles are not necessarily the same as moral principles. Moral principles are directly associated with the personal values and beliefs of the nurse, which creates a barrier in raising the issue and communicating with other colleagues. The close relationship of ethical principles with the moral values of the individual results in fear of personal judgment by other team members.

Ethical dilemmas are mostly situations where several ethical principles are contradicting each other. For example, the principle of safety might be in opposition to the principle of privacy in the case of a suicidal teenager. Another example is the religious beliefs of the patient that do not allow to implement life-sustaining treatments. Thus, such kinds of contradictions are the basis of ethical dilemmas, which might create the illusion of contradiction of nurse’s personal moral principles. When the nurse attributes the situation with ethical dilemma to the personal decision-making issue with own moral principles, there is a natural barrier that does not allow to raise such ‘personal’ issue to other team members. It is the same as some individuals are not willing to discuss personal issues with their colleagues. Therefore, the clear differentiation of moral and ethical principles will help nurses to overcome the fear of sharing the struggles related to ethical dilemmas.


Rainer, J., Schneider, J. K., & Lorenz, R. A. (2018). Ethical dilemmas in nursing: An integrative review. Journal of clinical nursing, 27(19-20), 3446-3461.