When dealing with ethical decisions, it is very important that nurses maintain a nonjudgmental view. Each nurse comes into the career with their own set of personal values and beliefs. These may not coincide with the values and beliefs of patients and their families.
Nurses must be aware of the values that patients and families possess in order to reach ethical decisions.
Values are a learned trait throughout each individual’s life. Early on, influences come about from family. Over time, one will have experiences and possess influences brought about from society.
Values come about from cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. These are what affect our relationships with other people.
Nurses need to be aware of their personal values. They must be aware of how they perceive life, health, illness, and death (Blais, 2011). This becomes increasingly important during end-of-life care and planning. Nurses need to maintain a biased attitude in order to have an effective working relationship with patients and their families. There will always be encounters with patients who hold different values and beliefs.
When it comes to making ethical decisions, nurses need to have a reasonable thinking ability. Emotions and institutional policies should not be the basis of thought. A good decision is one that is made in the best interest of the patient and family. The patient’s well-being is most important. Autonomy of the patient is a factor also. The patient and family need to be allowed to be proactive in medical care decisions. Mutual respect must also be present.
Being involved in ethical committees and nursing ethics groups can help nurses become more aware of their own personal values. Ethics committees help to balance reasonable treatment and guidance with the respect and dignity that comes as a right to all patients.