Nursing Codes of Ethics in Australia

In most cases, every state has well set guidelines and principles as well as expected mode of conduct in every profession. For this reason therefore, there are certain codes of ethics that have been set for Australian Nurses and which must be fulfilled as recommended by the national standards (Allmark, 2005). These codes ensure that every nurse sticks to the expected conduct in the vocation. Therefore, it is imperative to note that failure to adhere to any code of ethics may be tantamount to professional negligence (Allmark, 2005). Indeed, the professional code of ethics ensures that all nurses conduct themselves responsibly at their places of work in order to uphold public trust and confidence (Kerridge, Lowe & McPhee, 2005). This paper objectively discusses and reviews three codes and how they affect the nursing profession in Australia. Moreover, the paper will also shed light on how these codes of ethics compare and contrast each other.

Assessment, Review and Report of the Codes of Ethics

The code of professional conducts for Nurses in Australia

Professional conduct in particular highlights how one ought to behave in a professional faculty (Allmark, 2005). As a matter of fact, professional codes of ethics are normally set by Australian national standards. Quite often, professional conducts are largely supported by the code of ethics for nurses in the country. In this case, professional conduct for nursing professionals is the exemplary standards depicted by nurse professionals when performing their duties in society (Kerridge, Lowe & McPhee, 2005).The code of conducts is destined to achieve or play a central role in the field of nursing. In this case, it gives detailed information regarding the minimum requirement in which one must achieve when joining the nursing profession. Hence, professional code of conduct mainly targets at informing society some of the integral standards for the professional demeanor in the country. In addition to this, it also provides the public with basis for decisions concerning the norms of proficient conduct (Lowe M, et al, 2005). Besides, the code clarifies what actually constitutes professional misconduct. In this case, it aims at elaborating what is meant by unprofessional conduct. However, it is worth to note that this code of ethics is designed and set for multiple audiences (Smith & Godrey, 2005). This implies that it targets all the qualified nurses, health workers, student nurses, nurse employers and nursing regulatory agencies who developed them.

The code of ethic for nurses in Australia

According to the current review, it is evident that this code focuses on the ethics and some of the broad applications in nursing as a profession (Kerridge, Lowe & McPhee, 2005). Empirically, research has shown that this code of ethics applies and is relevant to nurses across all levels of practice. This entails all the clinical managers, student nurses and those in the research domains. It is imperative to note that this code of ethic was formulated by the United Nation Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Smith & Godrey, 2005). Other agencies include the World Health Organization, International Covenant on Civil and Political rights. That’s not withstanding, it is important to note in mind that the code is meant for multiple audience. In this case, it covers the qualified nurses, student nurses, general public receiving health services and the entire community (Smith & Godrey, 2005). Moreover, the code also covers nurses’ employers, nursing regulatory authorities and other consumer oriented agencies. Needless to say, the code elaborates the commitments of nurses in upholding, respecting, promoting and protecting their fundamental duties to recipients. Australian code of ethics of nursing states that a nurse should act in accordance to the major and set objectives of the profession (Smith & Godrey, 2005). For instance, the code states that a nurse should take full initiative to save and preserve lives of patients especially those at the end-life stage. However this is not always the case since death is a natural ordeal. In line with this, they should promote their well-being by providing healthcare services and discouraging harmful acts (Kerridge, Lowe & McPhee, 2005). This code also states that, nurses should uphold full dignity when serving patients regardless of their individual differences (Smith & Godrey, 2005). That’s not withstanding, the code has several roles that it plays to ensure that the professional’s confidence and integrity is upheld. In this case, the code purposes to identify the ethical standards in which the profession is committed to. By doing this, it makes it possible to establish standards and guidelines for nurses to follow in their profession. Besides, the code of ethics provides the nurses with reference points through which they reflect their conducts (Smith & Godrey, 2005). Imperatively, the code also provides a guide for making ethical decisions and actions in nursing profession. More often, Code of ethics in Nursing is used as reference by the community to identify whether the nurses upholds the expected standards as stated in the code. This is due to the fact that the code clearly indicates the ethical values in which nurses should depict in their service within the community.

The Internationals Council of Nursing (ICN) code of ethics

The code of ethics was initially formulated and adopted in 1953 though it had been regulated as well as rectified in recent years. The ICN code of ethics ensures quality nursing practice and health care policies in Australia. This code acts as a guide for actions taken by nurses based on the values and needs of the community. In this case, it provides a framework for the expected standard of conduct throughout the professional life of nurses. This code constitute of four basic elements (Schober & Affara, 2006). These elements are based on the fundamental roles played by nurses in promoting health, eradicating illnesses and alleviation of suffering (Smith & Godrey, 2005). One of the elements is on the nurse and the people. This element emphasizes that people are entitled to quality healthcare provided by nurses. In this case, nurses avails an ample environment for communities irrespective of social differences. This implies that the nurses should avail ample conditions when executing healthcare duties without discriminating the public on the basis of gender, sex, race or ethnicity (Kerridge, Lowe & McPhee, 2005). The second element is about nurses and practice, where the former are expected to be accountable and competent in their performance (Schober & Affara, 2006). To maintain the necessary standards, the nurse should be competent in delegating their responsibility. The third element encompasses the nurses and the profession. In this case, the nurse assumes the biggest role in developing the research-based relationships. To say it better, the nurse ensures that through the profession one is able to participate in creation and maintenance of favorable nursing environment. It is also advisable that nurses should research on their projects as a group to ensure that they develop conclusions that are not individual based. Finally, the element of nurses and co-workers ensures that there exists a cooperative relationship between the two (Schober & Affara, 2006). Appropriate action should be taken by the nurses to facilitate ample coordination with co-workers thus safeguard communal health. Imperatively, standard set by ICN are applicable for both student and qualified nurses (Smith & Godrey, 2005).

Comparison of the codes of ethics

Moreover, the set codes of ethics are pertinent to specific and general nurses in Australia (Allmark, 2005). Additionally, the three codes provide a platform for accountability and responsibility in nursing as a professional activity. In line with this, they also facilitate responsible practices especially for nurses who are practicing particularly in research and educational fields. There is renewed evidence that the codes of ethics tend to reinforce each other and that none can do without the other (Kerridge, Lowe & McPhee, 2005). For instance, the code of ethics underpins and largely determines how the code of professional conduct is executed. In additional, they have myriad of common features which cut across them (Coady, 1991).Such features include the policy statements, frameworks for decision-making and guidelines that have been laid for nursing profession. It is vivid that they also have common objectives of enhancing accountability, trust and responsibilities in nursing profession (Fry & Johnston, 2002). Furthermore, their areas of concern are related. These include clinical research, education and management. It is worth to note that all of these nursing regulations do put more emphasis on morality and ethics (Coady, 1991).In fact, concurrent reviews done on the code of ethics confirms that the two concepts have been interchanged in their policy statement. Finally, it is evident from the review that they have common beneficiaries. To elaborate on this, the codes of ethics aim at safeguarding the well being of nurses and the community at large (Fry & Johnston, 2002).

Contrasting the code of ethics

In contrast, the three types of ethical codes have certain differing aspects that distinguish one from the other. Nevertheless, the differences are grounded on the domain and focus in nursing (Coady, 1991). In this case, the code of professional conduct mainly focuses on the minimum qualification that allows one to be eligible to become a nurse (Ash, 2011). In line with this, the code of ethics in nursing focus on the standards expected from the nursing profession by the very society it serves. This implies that, society plays a huge role in defining the standards depending on the value and needs of the people (Coady, 1991). On the other hand, the international council of nursing ethics is established by the nurses’ representatives as guidelines for actions taken in response to the need and values of the society (Janssen et al., 1997). The code of ethics in Australia nursing is applicable for nurses at all level of operation while the professional conduct considers that qualifications depending on the level in which they are trained to work (Johnston & Kanitsaki, 2007). All the same, the international council of nurses applies to nurses who are within the nursing associations (Hally, 2009). However, to some extent such ethics are also applicable for all the nurses in Australia. Finally, the codes of ethics have different proponents though their objectives seem to equate (Coady, 1991).

How do the codes of ethics affect nursing practice in Australia?

The codes of ethics have positive impacts on nursing practices as it is evident from the research conducted (Johnston & Kanitsaki, 2007). One of the positive influences on nursing is that the codes of ethics facilitate impartiality, honesty and accuracy. These qualities are depicted when nurses are executing their roles in nursing (Hally, 2009). That not withstanding, the codes of ethics promote inherent relationships between the nurses and community at large. It is evident that, a distinct relationship becomes well grounded when governed by clear land distinct codes of ethics (Allmark, 2005). In this case, the trust, value and privileges of the profession are upheld within the community. Vividly speaking, the codes tend to increase competence and accountability of the professionals in this field by ensuring that they carry out their duties accordingly (Ash, 2011). Besides this, the codes ensure that legal parameters are followed to the letter in provision of quality nursing care to individuals irrespective of their personal differences (Janssen et al., 1997). Furthermore, these codes also provide frameworks for making controversial decisions through identification of myriad conflicting issues. However, the code of ethics may influence nursing as a profession in a negative way (Kerridge, Lowe & McPhee, 2005). This occurs in cases whereby the set codes of ethics are highly inclined to a community’s norms and values. To some extent, a community is involved in making humanitarian decisions. Excess over-regulation and oversight on the nursing conduct might also cause maladjustment in behavior (Ash, 2011).

References

Allmark, P. (2005). Can the study of ethics enhance nursing practice? Journal of Advanced Nursing. 51(6), 618-624.

Ash, C. (2011). A Code of Ethics for Nursing in Australia. Web.

Coady, M. (1991). Ethics, laws and codes. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 16(1), 17-21

Fry, T. & Johnston, M. (2002).Ethics in nursing practice: a guide to ethical decision making. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

Hally,B. (2009). A Guide for International Nursing Students in Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand: Elsevier Publishing, Inc.

Janssen, P. et al (1997).Australian Nursing Ethics. Australian Nursing Journal. 4(1), 12.

Johnston, M & Kanitsaki, O. (2007). An exploration of the notion and nature of the construct of cultural safety and its applicability to the Australian health care context. Journal of Tran-cultural Nursing, 18(3), 247–56.

Kerridge, I, Lowe, I. & McPhee, J. (2005) Ethics and Law for the Health Professions. Annandale: The Federation Press.

Schober, M. & Affara, F. (2006). International Council of Nurses: advanced nursing practice. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

Smith, K. & Godrey, N. (2005).Being a good nurse and doing the right thing: A qualitative study. Nursing Ethics, 9(3), 301.