Addressing Issues in Health Care


Nursing plays a significant part in society, considering its role of ensuring that people get quality health care. As it would be observed, a typical day of a nurse is fraught with many challenges and constraints. However, nurses can always adopt key professional values and behaviours that can be useful in helping them address these issues appropriately. This paper consists of two parts showing some of the problems encountered by nurses in their work. The first part uses Rath’s values clarification model to reflect a personal belief that can cause conflict between nurses and clients. The second part reflects a hypothetical situation through which nurses can get into conflict with clients, where it is clearly shown how appropriate principles of the nursing code of ethics can be used to address the issue.

Addressing Issues in Health Care

Nursing is a crucial part of health care whose main focus is to ensure that people get quality care from health care facilities. In fact, this is a profession that calls for special understanding, skills, and preparation, among other important success qualities. However, the profession has plenty to offer to those who fully commit themselves to it. In order to be successful in contemporary nursing, one must possess proper understanding of modern nursing theories and practices, among other key requirements. The day-to-day working life of a nursing practitioner is often fraught with many challenges and constraints, and this makes the experiences of nurses in hospitals different each day. To be able to manage these challenges successfully, nurses should uphold high professional values, ethics and behaviours in their daily practices in hospitals. This paper explores two situational cases that are likely to see nursing practitioners get into conflict with their clients, and it offers insight on how the nurses can apply the necessary actions to address the issues in a professional manner.

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Ethical Dilemmas

Nursing practitioners come across many ethical dilemmas in the workplace. Most of these dilemmas, however, are likely to see them get into conflict with their clients or patients. As it would be observed, these ethical dilemmas occur as a result of variations in personal values, beliefs, and experiences between the nurses and the clients. One personal belief which is likely to cause conflict for nurses when dealing with clients is the perception that religious values and beliefs should not be allowed to influence the type of medical attention that should be given to patients. For example, there are some religions that cannot accept or donate blood transfusions. In that case, a nurse who receives a patient from such a religion who is in need of an urgent blood transfusion will be in a serious ethical dilemma on the best cause of action to take.

The belief that religious values or beliefs should not be given much attention when it comes to medical matters can be clarified using Rath’s values clarification model. This particular clarification model is based on aspects of choosing, prizing, and acting. This belief fits in the first stage of Rath’s clarification model in that, I have freely chosen to follow it religiously after a keen consideration of the severe consequences that are likely to arise if otherwise. For example, it is obviously clear that those patients who have experienced severe loss of blood, probably as a result of accident or any other cause are likely to die, unless they received urgent blood transfusions.

The second stage of Rath’s clarification model is prizing, which emphasises that chosen beliefs are always cherished and viewed as very important aspects when making decisions about crucial matters of health. Nursing practitioners are always advised to apply integrity and other essential values of nursing to ensure that the lives of patients are secured. This happens in many situations within health care facilities, even where it would be necessary to dishonour the personal beliefs of patients and their families to make informed decisions about health care. In this case, I would take risk on behalf of my colleagues and administer the most appropriate medical care to save the patient, regardless of his/her religious beliefs or values.

The third stage is acting. The belief is fully incorporated into my behavior, and this explains the reason why I would repeat it consistently as a nursing practitioner. Just like any other dedicated medical professional, I will never forgive myself if a patient under my care succumbs to his/her illness when there was something that I could have done to save them. Even though nurses are advised to honour the wishes of patients and their families, soft constraints such the ones arising from religious values should not be a determinant of the type of health care that one should be given. Moreover, this should not be allowed to compromise the quality of health care offered in hospitals.

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There are many ways through which nursing practitioners can fall into conflicts with clients in the course of their work. Most of these, however, would come as a result of common ethical issues that are likely to trigger serious ethical dilemmas for the nursing practitioners. For instance, there are some situations where patients are not supposed to be told everything regarding their health conditions, for their own good. This, however, can trigger severe consequences to their families and the nursing practitioners involved in case the patients get to know about the truth at some point.

As a matter of fact, truth telling versus deception is one of the most complicated dilemmas that nursing practitioners may happen to encounter in their day-to-day mission in hospitals. Telling a lie to patients is actually the last thing any qualified medical practitioner would like to do, since it is against professional medical behaviour, which requires health care professionals to give honest information to clients in regard with their health conditions. However, in most cases, this is raised by family members of the patients, who may not like their sick ones discover some harsh realities about their illnesses or the kind of healing processes they are likely to be subjected to before they can get well. Failing to disclose medical facts to patients is against the principles of proper nursing care, which are based on altruism and autonomy, among other crucial nursing values (Kozier & Erb, 2008). In this regard, concealing the truth from patients is likely to bring serious conflicts between nurses and their clients.

Nursing practitioners should be able to handle such cases carefully and deal with them in a professional manner incase the plan fails, exposing them to possible grudges with the patients. There are various principles of the nursing code of ethics that can set the standard on how nursing practitioners can deal with such situations. One effective principle here is one that emphasizes that nursing practitioners must always ensure that patients under their care are able to trust them with their wellbeing.

If at any point my clients happen to realise that I have been supporting their families in deceiving them about their true health conditions, I can apply this principle to make everything clear to them. For example, I will make it understandable to them that it is always in my best interest to ensure that the care of my clients is my first concern, and in that case, I would do everything within my capability to ensure that they are safe, even if I would be compelled to break some crucial principles of nursing ethics. In this regard, the patients will be able to view my actions as part of my intended healing plan on them. More importantly, I will apply the principle of trust to let the patients understand that their families are more concerned about their wellbeing, and for that reason, had opted to tell the lie as a way of helping them recover quickly. In this case, patients may be able to understand that, even though it is their right to be informed about their medical conditions, it is sometimes good not to let them know everything about their conditions, especially if this is likely to cause more harm than good to them.

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As observed from these two cases, nursing practitioners face a lot of ethical challenges and dilemmas in their work. In that case, nurses should always try to adopt effective professional nursing practices that would help them address the issues in the most desirable manner. One way through which they can successfully achieve this is by conforming to professional values, ethics, and behaviours as they apply in professional nursing practices.


Kozier, B., & Erb, G. (2008). Ethics and Values. In B. Kozier & G. Erb (Eds), Fundamentals of nursing: concepts, process and practice (pp. 286-289). New Jersey: Pearson Education.

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