Being the most trustworthy professionals in America means that nurses must maintain an exceptionally high standard of ethics and integrity. Ethics is essentially about being an honest, respectable human being. This would seem to be a rather straight forward issue. However, it is much more complicated than it might seem at face value. Never the less, it is critical that all nurses and nursing students act in a highly ethical manner. Nurses have been voted to be the most ethical and honest American professional through the Gallup annual survey for the past 14 of 15 years. Nurses were added to the Gallup annual survey only 15 years ago. The only year since they were added that we were not voted to be the most ethical and honest profession was the year of 2001 when fire fighters were given this honor.
“Nursing ethics deals with the relationship of a nurse to the patient, the patient’s family, associates and fellow nurses, and society at large.” According to the Medical Dictionary.
Each profession has a set of standards that defines professional conduct within that profession. For instance, a nurse on duty knows that she is required to act for the benefit of the patient. A nurse is also mandated to prevent any incident that might harm a patient. These two concepts make up the essence of nursing ethics. Another example is that when I worked in a hospital that had limited staff, if the nurse from the next shift was unable to work I would be required to do an automatic double shift. It is unethical for a nurse to “abandon” a patient.
Wikipedia defines integrity as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards. In ethics, integrity is regarded by many people as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.”
An extremely high level of integrity is a critical characteristic for being an exceptional nurse. This is true both in the work setting and in our personal lives. Integrity is critically to being a nurse yet it seems to be undervalued in society in general today.
Being very honest and truthful is what it means to come from a place of integrity. It can also mean being reliable, doing what you say you are going to do.
Lastly, it isn’t just about the enormous things you do; it is about the umpteen small things we do on a continual daily basis that demonstrate our integrity as nurses.