Professional Ethics

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 1.51.02 PM

Photo: A.McKenzie

I work in health care, a field where ethical dilemmas are not in short supply. One of the most recent ethical dilemmas to challenge nurses is that of medically assisted death.

Nursing is a profession that was rated as one of the top 5 most trusted professionals in Canada in 2015. Nurses work with some of the most vulnerable in our population and when a violation of this trust occurs, the effects are catastrophic.

To protect those in their care, Registered Nurses in Canada are bound by a Code of Ethics developed by the Canadian Nurses Association (latest edition is from 2008). While the Code of Ethics is not available for viewing online there are multiple case studies and examples of ethical dilemmas for nurses to read and learn from here.

The College of Registered Nurses of BC states on their web page that the “ . . . public expects competent nurses to provide safe and ethical nursing care. In British Columbia, the public has entrusted the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC), through the Health Professions Act, with the responsibility for establishing, monitoring and enforcing standards of practice and professional ethics for registered nurses and nurse practitioners” (Introduction Professional Standards para 1).

As a practicing Registered Nurse, I have to follow these standards and provide evidence that I am meeting my professional competencies. Complaints regarding care or competencies are investigated by the CRNBC.

To ensure that the care provided to patients meets approved standards, policy and procedures are continually being revised and new ones drafted. These policies and procedures can be found in manuals on the units and on the health authorities’ web staff page.

Unlike nursing which has a very cohesive and national approach, teaching seems to be a bit more piecemeal. The BC Teacher Federation has a Code of Ethics that is available online here. I found it interesting that one of the “rules’ of ethical behaviour for its members is that the member adheres to the provisions of the collective agreement.

There are also Codes of Conduct for employees of institutions like this one from UNBC.

The Ontario College of Teachers, in their ethical standards for teaching, has chosen to focus their efforts on what they see as a vision of professional practice, choosing the words, Care, Respect, Trust and Integrity to focus their statements on. Their standards of practice are not unlike the competency framework we developed. The 5 practice standards are listed as follows (Standards of Practice, n.d):

  • Commitments to students and student learning;
  • Professional Knowledge;
  • Professional Practice;
  • Leadership in Learning Communities
  • Ongoing Professional Learning

When I think of hotly debated ethical topics in education, I think of sex education. A topic that creates issues for younger students, but not for the adult students I teach.

Below is an awesome video from a PIDP student that looks at a situation involving college students and the teacher’s out of classroom relationships. The issue is analyzed using Kidder’s Ethical Dilemmas Framework and resolved using Kidder’s Nine Steps for Ethical Decision Making. It is a framework that I will be using in my practice as teacher.

References

Introduction Professional Standards (n.d). CRNBC The College of Registered Nurses of BC. Retrieved from: https://www.crnbc.ca/Standards/ProfessionalStandards/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Standards of Practice (n.d.) Ontario College of Teachers. Retrieved from: http://www.oct.ca/public/professional-standards/standards-of-practice

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s