Health & Medical Question


Give an example of an ethical dilemma that you think you will encounter when you start working as a nurse.

How are you going to prepare yourself as a nurse in dealing with these dilemmas?

Expert Solution Preview


As a medical professor entrusted with designing college assignments and evaluating student performance, it is essential to consider the ethical challenges that medical professionals often face in their practice. Ethics play a crucial role in healthcare, as healthcare providers must navigate complex situations that involve the well-being of patients, informed consent, confidentiality, and conflicts of interest. In this context, let us explore an example of an ethical dilemma that nurses may encounter in their practice and how they can prepare themselves to address such dilemmas effectively.


One ethical dilemma that nurses often encounter is the issue of patient autonomy versus beneficence. Consider a situation where a patient with a terminal illness refuses life-saving treatment recommended by the healthcare team. While respecting patient autonomy is fundamental, it can be challenging for nurses because they are advocates for patient well-being and strive to promote health and prevent harm. This conflict between honoring the patient’s autonomy and simultaneously ensuring their well-being creates an ethical dilemma.

To prepare oneself as a nurse in dealing with such dilemmas, several steps can be taken. Firstly, education and training are paramount in developing an ethical framework and critical thinking skills. Nursing programs should incorporate ethics courses that focus on moral reasoning, ethical decision-making models, and the exploration of real-life scenarios. These courses can provide nurses with a strong foundation and awareness of the ethical issues they may face in practice.

Additionally, fostering open communication and collaboration with fellow healthcare professionals is crucial. Nurses must engage in interdisciplinary discussions and seek guidance from experts to navigate ethical dilemmas effectively. Building a strong network of colleagues and mentors who have experience in dealing with such challenges can be immensely helpful.

Moreover, nurses should familiarize themselves with the ethical codes and guidelines established by professional nursing organizations and regulatory bodies. These ethical standards, such as those set forth by the American Nurses Association (ANA), provide a framework for ethical nursing practice and serve as a reference point when facing dilemmas. Regularly reviewing and understanding these codes can help nurses make informed decisions and act in accordance with the highest ethical standards.

Furthermore, nurses should cultivate self-awareness and reflection to enhance their ethical practice. Reflective practices, such as journaling and debriefing sessions, allow nurses to critically analyze their actions, decisions, and feelings in complex situations. This self-reflection promotes personal growth, development of moral resilience, and better understanding of one’s own values and biases.

Lastly, creating a supportive and psychologically safe work environment is vital for nurses to address ethical dilemmas effectively. By fostering open dialogue, encouraging discussions on ethics, and establishing formal channels for reporting concerns, nurses can navigate dilemmas collectively and seek guidance when needed. This collective approach helps mitigate the emotional and moral distress associated with ethical dilemmas and ensures patient-centered care remains at the forefront.

In conclusion, facing ethical dilemmas is an inherent part of a nurse’s professional journey. By enhancing their ethical knowledge, seeking education, fostering collaboration, and engaging in self-reflection, nurses can prepare themselves to navigate such dilemmas with integrity and compassion. Understanding the ethical frameworks, guidelines, and available resources will empower nurses to make informed decisions and prioritize the best interests of their patients while ensuring respect for their autonomy.

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