Professional Code of Conduct

Professional Code of Conduct


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Professional Code of Conduct

The code of ethics in the nursing profession was codified by the International Council of Nurses (ICN). It has been reviewed severally since its inception in 1953. This code is based on an offshoot of applied ethics, which is the attempt to use philosophical means to find the appropriate itinerary of action in the daily interactions between nurses and patients and their fellow colleges. The distinguishing factor from other codes of ethics in related professions, in the significance placed on relationships, collaborative care and the dignity of those under their care. The latest issue of the ICN code clearly states the importance of adherence to the patient’s human rights. The patient’s right to life is respected, and care is not restricted by any discriminatory practices or prejudices. There are four principles outlined in the ICN code discussed below.

Nurses and patients

The primary responsibility of a practicing nurse is the patient under their care (ICN, 2005, p. 2). This first code element places emphasis on this. Since it is the primary role of the nursing profession, provision of care is paramount. The principle of beneficence puts forth several concepts: one should do no harm; one should avert harm; one should eliminate harm; one should carry out good. The nurse is a position to ensure the patient receives care that is to the patient’s best interests. If the patient may want to cause himself or herself harm, the nurse has the responsibility to seek intervention from professionals in the hospital setting and recruit the aid of the patient’s relatives when present. Some of the medical procedures performed on the patient have the potential to cause harm; hence, the nurse should ensure that the patient is made aware, which relates to the next segment.

During the course of treatment, the nurse should ensure that the patient is made aware of the medical condition they have and the various courses of treatment available to ensure the patient is a position to make informed choices about their treatment. This principle is based on the respect of the patient’s autonomy. It is a concept in moral philosophy that espouses for the patient receiving medical care to give informed consent of the medical treatment. This is based on the competence of the patient, disclosure by the medical practitioners with their professional recommendations that are well understood by the patient. This leads to an enlightened decision; hence, the patient’s authorization. With the exception of the mentally challenged, the patient should volunteer for the treatment or should have their legal proxy make these choices on their behalf.

Care should be provided in an environment that respects the individual rights of the patient. The values of the patient should be respected as well as their cultural and spiritual beliefs. Their customs may entail different level of care or a slight adjustment made. Some patients’ culture prevents them from being handled or seen in various states of undress by members of the opposite sex apart from their spouses. This will call for a possible change in the gender of the nursing staff giving care to this patient. The patient has a right to adherence of their cultural beliefs despite the nurse’s personal beliefs and attitudes. This preserves the dignity of the individual and helps foster goodwill in the patient that may be important in the patient’s recovery as they are free of worry.

Since nurses seek to form relationships with their patients, confidentiality is a key element in this relationship. The nurse comes into sensitive information about the patient that should be kept private. The nurse should exercise caution in the dissemination of this knowledge and the patient’s consent should be sought. The patient’s identity should be hidden in case consultations are made by the nurse to colleges not involved in the case or in terms of educational purposes. The only permissible exception is when there might be a life-threatening danger. The nurse is allowed to break the patient’s confidentiality to adhere to a higher obligation of preserving the life of the patient. Due diligence is required when such a situation arises, and the nurse is necessitated to use their moral compass, and the code of ethics to make suitable decisions.

These principles can be achieved through several stages (p. 5). The practitioners should incorporate these principles into their daily practice. Educators can incorporate these tenets into the nursing curriculum to create awareness among the students. The researches’ application of these fundamentals into their work will increase the acceptability of their findings in the medical community by providing credibility for the research methods used. National associations should be included into ethics review committees, provide guidelines to their members to promote understanding of the provisions of this principle of the code of conduct.

Nurses and practice

The nurse has a responsibility to the practice by remaining relevant to the field by continually learning and keeping abreast with any new developments, as the medical field is dynamic (p. 3). The nurse should ensure that they remain able to carry out their duties by ensuring they are not compromised by their own personal health. Their judgment is required to assess their own competence regarding the responsibility bequeathed or taken. The nurse should not take on responsibility they cannot handle for the risk involved. Delegation of tasks should be carried out to those with the competence to handle them. The responsibility of the lives placed in the care of nurses should be a guiding force in decisions taken regarding the performance of duties. Furthermore, the nurse should ensure that their overall conduct is a positive reflection of the profession.

Managers can set standards in the workplace that require a certain level of quality of care provided to the patients (p. 6). There should be mechanisms to appraise the work of practitioners and monitor the health of the nurses to ensure that they remain competent to deliver in their duties. Educators can stress the importance of this element of the convention in the learning opportunities offered to students to improve the level of competency during practice. Associations and professional bodies can ensure that the nurses remain relevant to their practice by keeping them informed of new standards and practices adopted. Promotion of healthy lifestyles and workplaces would raise the services provided.

Nurses and the profession

The nurse has a role in the implementation of adequate standards in the nursing profession in terms of the practice, research, management and education. They also have a key role in determining the standards applicable in nursing by participation in the processes involved in setting these standards (p. 3). Through associations and professional bodies, the nurse can participate in the creation of better working condition for the nurse to improve their own livelihoods and further the quality of service offered to their patients. Because of the nature of their interaction with medical cases and patients, the nurse has access to data that can be used in research purposes, therefore developing the pool of professional knowledge based on research. There should be better standards set for the profession by continuous dissemination of research to ensure that the nurses’ contribution to the profession is relevant (p. 5). This is done through different levels, that is, from the management through to the professional bodies. There should be constant renewal of licenses through examinations that guarantee the practitioners remains relevant to the field.

Nurses and co-workers

Nursing is not a solitary profession and the hospital setting has many different professionals working towards a common purpose – the wellbeing of the patient. This requires collaboration between nurses and among the other professionals (p. 3). Sustenance of a supportive relationship among these different groups of people is pivotal to the accomplishment of their respective duties. The patient benefits most from this relationship. The nurse should also put the care of the patient above any camaraderie in case the patient is at risk of endangerment by a college. Implementation of this code calls for the development of proper systems that support the different roles the co-workers play by creating awareness of the functions (p. 7). The management may have to eliminate any overlapping duties to decrease the probability of tensions. Associations, educators and researchers, can stimulate cooperation with the related fields by increasing awareness of the other professions.


International Council of Nurses. (2005). The ICN code of ethics for nurses. Geneva: ICN.