Ethical decisions are something individuals face every day. Ethics is defined as “the principles of conduct governing an individual or group” (Chism, 2016). Nurses are expected to make sound ethical decisions every day, whether it be in our personal or professional life. As we transmission to the DNP role, it is like that we will be sought out as an ethical consultant in our leadership positions.
Four principles serve as a basic guideline. They are autonomy, beneficence, non maleficence, justice. Autonomy is the freedom to make decisions for ourselves. There is sometimes a fine line between what the professional thinks is right and what the patient wants. It is our responsibility to proceed as the patient wishes. Beneficence is the moral obligation we have to benefit others. As a leader, we must consider benefits to others. We do have to be careful not to use paternalism because this can undermine others around us and particularly the patients. Non-Maleficence is an obligation not to harm. The fourth principle is justice. This refers to fairness (Chism, 2016). The DNP should lead others in deliberately taking an active role in treating patients without prejudice.
As a professional, we are charged with making ethical decisions. There are times when patients have asked me to lie. One example I have is the patient asked me to refill his medication Brintellex, and he takes 5mg; however, he wanted me to refill it as the 10mg, and he would cut it in half. To make matters worse, he was a co-worker. I had to advise them that I am unable to do so politely, and that was enough. If I would have done as he asked then I would have opened myself up for potentially being asked to do more significant favors. I find it is much easier to do the right thing first rather than have to go back later. Early in my career, I found this very disturbing. I have since evolved and can handle it more easily. This is one item that as I train others to address. I often say if one can’t be trusted with the small stuff, how can one be trusted with the big thing. As the DNP, others will look to us as an ethical example, so we must do our best to be a good one.
Chism, L. (2016). The doctor of nursing practice. A guidebook for role development and professional
Issues. (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.