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Nursing Ethics and catholic social teaching

Nurses devote their lives to helping people who cannot help themselves. It is not an easy job by any means, but it’s an incredibly meaningful and important one. The basis of nursing care is administering medications, consulting with other healthcare professionals, monitoring patients, educating individuals and family members, as well as managing medical records. On top of these numerous tasks, nurses do so much more. Nurses are patient advocates who give anything and everything they can to each patient in order to provide the best care possible. They are with their patients through the tough times and the good times, always there to listen and help when they can. They form therapeutic relationships with their patients and help them make decisions about what is best for them, while still also trying to allow the patient to be involved with their care.

The Nursing Code of Ethics is “a statement of the ethical values, obligations, and duties of every individual who enters the nursing profession. This code serves as the profession’s nonnegotiable ethical standard that every nurse is held accountable to” (“Code of Ethics PDF,” 10). The first provision says “The nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and the recognition of human dignity and worth that is present in every individual” (“Code of Ethics PDF,” 8). This provision relates to the Catholic Social Teaching of Human Dignity. Pope Francis said ‘Catholic Social Teaching believes that human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, have by their very existence an inherent value, worth, and distinction” (“Catholic Social Teaching”). Nurses significantly apply this Catholic Social Teaching to their care and are to treat all patients with dignity, worth, and value. Nurses are to be evenhanded and non-discriminatory in their care, treating everyone as equals and truly giving everyone the best care they can give. A quote from Laudato Si’ that correlates well with this says “We were conceived in the heart of God, and for this reason “each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary” (Pope Francis, para. 65). Everyone comes from God and is made in his image and likeness. Because of this, everyone deserves the same amount of love, respect, and dignity. Laudato Si also talks about anthropocentrism which is the idea that human beings are at the center of the universe (Pope Francis, section III). Sometimes the world takes anthropocentrism to extremes and society ends up neglected the earth in turn (Pope Francis, section III). This is statement is very true yet nurses still have a duty to keep their patient at the center of their focus and care by putting their needs first, even though it can affect the environment in a negative way. This is correlates with another one of the Nursing Code of Ethics Provisions that speaks about the environment.

The sixth Nursing Code of Ethics provision says “The nurse facilitates improvement of the healthcare environment” (“Code of Ethics PDF,” 8). This provision relates to the Catholic Social Teaching of Care for Creation. Pope Francis said "Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude" (“Catholic Social Teaching”). We must care for all of creation and the environment we all live in, but nurses specifically need to care for the environment that their patients live in. Nurses need to make sure that their patient’s environment is the best environment possible, allowing them to thrive as much as they can. With this being said, we do run into a slight problem because by making our patients’ environments comfortable and safe, it can require using a lot of plastic and disposable items. By using these items, it means we aren’t always treating the overall environment the best that we can. Laudato Si’ comments on environmental deterioration and the need to protect nature, which is extremely important and needed, but we also need to protect our patients and find a happy medium between the two (Pope Francis, para. 3). Some ways that the medical world is trying to find this happy medium is by cutting down on the number of red bags with biohazardous waste and trying to use more multiuse materials and equipment instead of single use. Single use materials are usually chosen because they save time and money, but multiuse materials are better for the overall environment and will be so much more beneficial in the long run. Sometimes the world is too focused on what is more convenient and easy right now, forgetting that we only have one earth and how all of these things will add up in the end.

What is an oath? Oaths are seen all over our world. Many professions and religions include oaths. Sacraments are oaths that make us holy. Oaths are promises that we vow to keep. When nurses enter into the health care world, they take an oath to promise that they will carry out the special responsibilities that nurses are widely known for. Oaths are solemn promises taken regarding ones future actions and behaviors. We learned that oaths are used in society such as the ones promising better care of the planet and that theological oaths are our sacraments that set us apart and make us holy. Fr. Boyle also took an oath as a priest to serve the poor and help the less fortunate.

When nurses enter into the health care world, they take an oath to promise that they will carry out the special responsibilities that nurses are widely known for. Oaths are solemn promises taken regarding ones future actions and behaviors. We learned that oaths are used in society such as the ones promising better care of the planet and that theological oaths are our sacraments that set us apart and make us holy. Fr. Boyle also took an oath as a priest to serve the poor and help the less fortunate. Oaths are a part of the medical world as well, in order to make sure healthcare professionals respect their patients and practice their skills safely. The oath that nurses take is called the “Nursing Nightingale Pledge”, named after Florence Nightingale who is the founder of modern nursing. It is an adaptation of the Hippocratic oath which is the oath that physicians take, which speaks about doing no harm.

Before God and those assembled here, I solemnly pledge; To adhere to the code of ethics of the nursing profession; To co-operate faithfully with the other members of the nursing team and to carryout faithfully and to the best of my ability the instructions of the physician or the nurse who may be assigned to supervise my work; I will not do anything evil or malicious and I will not knowingly give any harmful drug or assist in malpractice. I will not reveal any confidential information that may come to my knowledge in the course of my work. And I pledge myself to do all in my power to raise the standards and prestige of the practical nursing; May my life be devoted to service and to the high ideals of the nursing profession

Nursing and the Common Good: Nurses are required to treat all patients with dignity and respect, giving a holistic type of care that encompasses every aspect of the patient and their needs.

Nurses take an all-encompassing and holistic view of a patient’s wellbeing, caring about every single aspect of the person. Not only do nurses care for the physical part, they also care for the spiritual, social, and emotional parts of that person too. Nurses have a responsibility to maintain their patient’s human dignity and be aware of their cultural and religious views on medical care in order to incorporate those things into the care when possible. Nurses are not to be judgmental and they are to treat each patient as their equal. Nurses do not give biased care in any way for any reason. Nurses put all of their personal thoughts and opinions aside to keep their sole focus on the patient. Nurses play such an important part in healthcare and they have many roles to fulfill on a daily basis.

Bible Verses that Should Be Meant for Nurses

"We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Romans" 15:1

"For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land." Deuteronomy 15:11

Laudato Si': Care for the creation, treat all with human dignity, harmony among human beings and creation

“We were conceived in the heart of God, and for this reason “each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary” para. 65

Anthropocentrism- human beings are the center of the universe.

Nurse: a person who cares for the sick or infirm; specifically : a licensed health-care professional who practices independently or is supervised by a physician, surgeon, or dentist and who is skilled in promoting and maintaining health.

Little changes can make such big impacts in the end. Simply smiling at a patient or sitting down with them to talk for five minutes can brighten their day and possible even help with their recovery. Using a multiuse gown when going into a contact precaution patient’s room helps reduce the waste going out of the hospital and into our world. Nurses are compassionate beings that purely want to help people, and I believe that they project many catholic values and morals into the world simply by just doing their job.

Care for the Planet and Care for Patients? There needs to be a way to give our patients the best care possible but also save our planet and treat it with respect. "Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself."

When you are a nurse, you know that everyday you will touch a life, or someone will touch yours.

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