Give an example of an ethical dilemma that you think you will encounter when you start working as a nurse.
How are you going to prepare yourself as a nurse in dealing with these dilemmas?
Expert Solution Preview
Introduction: As a medical professor responsible for creating assignments and evaluating the performance of medical college students, I am aware of the importance of preparing future nurses to navigate the ethical challenges they may encounter in their profession. In this response, I will provide an example of an ethical dilemma that nurses may face, followed by strategies to prepare oneself in dealing with such dilemmas.
Example: An ethical dilemma that nurses often encounter is respecting patient autonomy versus ensuring their safety. Consider a scenario where a patient with a chronic illness refuses a vital treatment that could potentially save their life. In an urgent situation like this, nurses may face the challenge of striking a balance between respecting the patient’s autonomy and duty to provide necessary care.
1. Education and Knowledge: Nurses should engage in continuous learning and stay updated with ethical principles and professional guidelines. This includes understanding the legal aspects, such as informed consent and advance directives, which can help in decision-making situations.
2. Ethical Frameworks: Familiarize oneself with different ethical frameworks such as Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Virtue Ethics. These frameworks provide a structured approach to analyzing and resolving dilemmas by considering various perspectives and ethical principles.
3. Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication skills are crucial in dealing with ethical dilemmas. Nurses should develop open and respectful communication channels not only with patients but also with healthcare teams. Collaborating with colleagues can provide different viewpoints and solutions to complex ethical situations.
4. Reflective Practice: Engaging in self-reflection and critical thinking is essential for nurses to identify their personal values and biases that may influence their decision-making. Reflective practice allows nurses to evaluate their actions, learn from their experiences, and continuously refine their ethical reasoning.
5. Seek Guidance: Recognize that ethical dilemmas can be challenging, and it is acceptable to seek guidance from mentors, supervisors, or ethics committees. Consulting colleagues with more experience or utilizing resources available within the healthcare institution can help in making well-informed decisions.
By implementing these strategies, nurses can enhance their preparedness in navigating ethical dilemmas and ensure that their actions align with the core principles of nursing ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice.