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The Nursing Code of Ethics Explained

The Nursing Code of Ethics Explained

Nursing and ethics go hand-in-hand. Every single day that a nurse is on the job is guaranteed to present numerous ethical challenges and considerations that require solid, compassionate, and professional responses.

This is where the Nursing Code of Ethics comes into play; a code literally built to help nurses navigate and strategize the sometimes complicated and nuanced hospital floor.

In 1950, the Nursing Code of Ethics was formally developed; prior to this, the Nightingale Pledge was most often used. While the ethic codes specific to nursing have grown, changed, and adapted over the years, they remain true to the valuable profession of nursing and allows for nurses to thrive while providing superior patient care.

Today, the Nursing Code of Ethics is broken down into nine individual provisions as given by the American Nurses Association (ANA). Below, we’ll list these provisions held near and dear to nurses throughout the U.S. and explore the why they are so important.

Provision One: The nurse practices with compassion and respect for inherent dignity, worth and
unique attributes of every person.

Provision Two: The nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual,
family group, community or population.

Provision Three: The nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health, and safety
of the patient.

Provision Four: The nurse has authority, accountability, and responsibility for nursing practice:
makes decisions; and takes action consistent with the obligation to promote health and to
provide optimal care.

Provision Five: The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility
to promote health and safety, preserve wholeness of character and integrity, maintain
competence, and continue personal and professional growth.

Provision Six: The nurse, through individual and collective effort, establishes, maintains , and
improves the ethical environment of the work settings and conditions of employment that
are conducive to safe, quality health care.

Provision Seven: The nurse, in all roles and settings, advances the profession through research
and scholarly inquiry, professional standards development, and the generation of both
nursing and health policy.

Provision Eight: The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public to protect
human rights, promote health diplomacy, and reduce health disparities.

Provision Nine: The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public to protect
human rights, promote health diplomacy, and reduce health disparities.

So, why is it important for nurses to have a code of ethics by which to abide by? The provisions encapsulated within the establish ethics code are essentially there to offer guidance and structure in a medical world that often requires decisions to be made that fall into the realm of ethical conflict. 

Because nurses are providing varying levels of care as needed by their patients, it’s not uncommon that ethical questions and decisions come into play with regularity. Neonatal care, psychiatric care, end-of-life care, labor and delivery, and more can all present situations in which risks and benefits to the patient’s safety and health outcome must be weighed.

Symphony Ragan

Symphony Ragan



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