Nursing is a profession that requires high levels of dedication, kindness, attention to details and compassion for humans that come from all walks of life.   Practicing nurses are very skilled, trained and educated. Because of the profession and caring role that nurses fulfill, they are expected to follow a Code of Ethics as a guideline for conduct while on the job and performing other nursing duties.   The Code of Ethics for Nurses identifies goals, ethical principles, and grievance procedures.
The code of ethics for nursing is quite universal and is recognized and valued in many countries.   Professional recognition for nurses grew to newer heights in 1953 when the International Counsel of Nurses (ICN) established the International Code of Ethics for the nursing field.   This International Code of Ethics for nurses identifies four fundamental responsibilities that nurses are to be accountable for.   These responsibilities include the promotion of health, illness prevention through healthy lifestyle choices, alleviating suffering and health restoration.   Nurses need to follow these guidelines and also respect various cultural rights while treating all patients with the dignity they deserve while vulnerable and ill.   Nurses should take into account

the diversity they encounter on a daily basis when faced with different ages, races, cultures, creeds, disabilities, genders, politics, social status and sexual orientation (ICN, 2005).
The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the largest nursing organization in the U.S. that provides an ethical code of conduct for the nursing profession.   In 2001 the ANA House of Delegates approved these nine provisions outlined below.
    • The professional nurse should ensure to practice with compassion and respect, maintaining the dignity and uniqueness of all.   There should not pass judgment on economic, social status or health problems.
    • The nurse needs to remain committed to the patient and their support system whether it is family, friends or the community.
    • The nurse is a primary advocator for a patient’s protection of rights, health and safety.
    • The nurse needs to ensure optimal patient care by appropriate delegation of health care related tasks.
    • The nurse needs to continue their own personal and professional development in order to preserve their own safety and integrity.
    • The nurse is responsible in maintaining the environment to ensure quality health care.
    • The nurse contributes to the advancement of the profession by continuing education, administration and knowledge development.
    • The nurse needs

to meet the health needs of the community and beyond by collaborating with other health professionals.
    •   The nursing community needs to be represented by their members to enforce nursing values and maintain the integrity of its profession.
          (ANA, 2011).
These provisions where established to serve as a guide to protect the ethical rights of nurses and patients.   Nurses are tasked everyday with the goal of protecting the safety and rights of patients.   In theory, the code of ethics should provide guidance and a common set of goals to be followed in order to ensure the safety of nurses.
A grievance is a tool that is used to protect nurses and employment related rights.   This grievance procedure uses an agreement called collective bargaining.   This collective bargaining defines the nurse’s conditions and terms of employment.   This allows for empowerment of providing effective nursing care (Johnson, 2006).   Health care facilities have grievance procedures in place that follow the guideline of the code of ethics.   Grievances are handled differently depending upon the situation.   One situation that uses the collective bargaining tool is when there is an apparent nursing shortage.   Nursing staff downsizing, a redesign of systems and oppressive management creates very poor nursing environments.   It is essential that nurses feel

secure in their working environment and that safe practice is achieved.   Avoiding mandatory overtime and other burnout type issues can help achieve this goal.   The collective bargaining agreement protects nurses under these circumstances.
The nursing code of ethics may not always be feasible when enforcing various parts of the code.   Employers should establish certain goals and policies outlined by the code of ethics, however the employer may not always be able to enforce these policies.   Each nurse should evaluate where they stand as far as their standard of care for patients and their own personal ethical values.   In order to provide the best probability of enforcement it is important to minimize weak areas within the code of ethics.
To strengthen weak areas of the ethics code it is imperative for employers to provide opportunities for their nurses to grow within their profession and provide the safest quality of care.   The nursing code recommends that nurses are an active part of their community and to help meet the national and international health care needs.   Opportunities need to exist for this to be possible and the employer can help make that happen.   Another area for employers to improve the nursing profession based off of the code is to provide as many educational opportunities as possible.   Establishing a tuition reimbursement

program, paying for special certification classes or flexible schedules so that nurses can continue their education, knowledge and professional development.
Nurses are considered to be a highly revered profession.   The Code of Ethics for Nurses has helped establish nursing as a top occupation.   It will continue to serve as guide for safe and ethical patient care.   Nurses need to remain educated and challenged in their care for patients; establishing goals based from the ethics code will allow for this continuation.   It is important that a tool such as the grievance procedure remain in place so that nurses feel protection from potential burnout or being overworked.   Employers can also help their nurses follow the code of ethics by supporting education and resources for furthering the development of their careers.


American Nurses Association (ANA). (2011). 2001 Provisions. Retrieved from sforNurses/2110Provisions.aspx

International Counsel of Nurses. (2005). International Counsel Of Nurses. Retrieved from

BNET Health Publications. (2006). Grievance 101: Understanding The Process and Purpose of the Grievance Procedure. Retrieved from