CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION 1 Essay Example

  • Category:
    Nursing
  • Document type:
    Article
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
  • Page:
    3
  • Words:
    2162

“Conscientious Objection”

  1. Introduction

A nurse’s primary responsibility pertains to activities that are involved with providing nursing care to the patients. Through their career, nurses provide care to the people prior and after birth, and the care continues throughout the life of an individual right up to the onset of dying. Nurses play a pivotal role especially when it comes to maintaining families’ health status and providing comfort during deterioration of health, especially in irreversible circumstances. A traditional belief is that nurses are required to participate fully in circumstances that require the nurturing and taking care of human beings dutifully without prejudicing on their individual values such as culture, ethnicity, spiritual values, gender, health status, or any other grounds (Australian Nursing Council, 2002). Whereas nurses are required to conduct their duties without placing their interests first, there are certain conditions that might require a nurse to duly refuse assignments.

Despite having clauses that permit nurses right to refuse work under the Ontario Nurses’ Association (2010), nurses can find themselves in peculiar situations that can amount to professional misconduct, leading to dismissal. Contrary, the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation provides the relevant prerequisites that can qualify a nurse’s decision to participate in the care of a patient (ANMF, 2015). According to the Australian Nursing Council (ANC) (2002) nurses are required to uphold certain ethical codes of practice in line with the Australian Nursing Council, Australian Nursing Federation, and the Royal College of Australia. The nursing Codes of Ethics is complementary to the Code of Ethics for Nurses and International Council of Nurses (ICN) (ANC, 2002). The nursing ethical codes provide the relevant rudiments that guide nurses towards conducting their professional work despite the various challenges that can be met in line the line of duty.

  1. Identification of the issue

The Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia was developed to serve the purpose of providing guidance to the nursing profession in Australia (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2005). The Code of Ethics is relevant in all nursing levels from education, research, management and the most relevant, nursing care. Accordingly, the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia outlines the fundamental values and standards to which nursing as a profession should be practiced. It gives a reference point from which nurses can reflect upon themselves and others during practice (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2005). However, the major issue of concern questions the point in which nurses are justifiable especially when it comes to refusing assignments and whether or not their refusal violates the moral objectives of the nursing profession.

  1. Statement of the position

Nurses during the process of conducting their activities can encounter various challenges ranging from being overworked to being required to take care of a patient in conditions that do not favournursing care. Nurses, just as the rest of the people, are human and they should be allowed to carry out their activities in situations that are favourable for nursing care without going against the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia. Given that they are required to uphold and recognise the universal human rights of the people by safeguarding healthcare; nurses are also required operations that support nursing care under favourable conditions.

  1. Understanding the Code of Ethics

The Code of Ethics for Nurse in Australia is a framework that contains value statements that encourages students of nursing and nurses to reflect upon them with the aim of being guided on how clinical practice should be conducted (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2005). Under the Code of Ethics, nurses are required to value the delivery of quality nursing care to all people. In valuing quality nursing care, nurses accept accountability for the provision of standard nursing care and improving healthcare. In this case, nurses are required to be accountable of all the decisions that they make regarding the care of a person. Also, the responsibilities of nursing care extend to nurses accepting legal and moral responsibilities for the purpose of delivering safe and competent services (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2005).

In provision of safe and quality healthcare, under the Code of Ethics, nurses are entitled to refute in the provisioning of nursing care in situations that abhor their individual moral or religious beliefs that are unacceptable, also referred to as “conscientious objection” (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2005). However, midwives, assistant nurses, and nurses are supposed to ensure that quality of care and patient safety are taken care of in advance prior to exercising their right to conscientious objection (ANMF, 2015). Under the Professional Standards, Revised 2002, a nurse is required to advocate for the promotion of best possible care for clients and maintain competency without prejudicing on the quality of healthcare provided to a patient (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2009). Despite having the right to exercise their “conscientious objection,” there are certain conditions whereby the nurse might be required to oversee their moral beliefs and practices, and instead, place the interests of the client, first.

  1. Conditions for “conscientious objection”

  1. Unsafe working conditions

The Ontario Nurses’ Association (2010) provides a list of the conditions under which a nurse can opt for refusal of work. For instance, a nurse can refuse to attend to a patient under unsafe conditions. In most cases, unsafe conditions normally expose the patient to a situation that might highly endanger the safety, life, and health of a patient. On the other hand, a nurse has the right to a “conscientious objection” especially when it comes situations that put the lives of the nurses at risk. For example, in a situation whereby a nurse might be required to attend to a highly infectious disease without using protective attire is acceptable (Ontario Nurses’ Association, 2010). Given that the nurses bear full responsibility of a patient, unsafe working conditions can expose both the patient and the caregiver at risk and in most cases. Besides, the nurse risks from being discontinued from work in the event that a patient becomes affected by the actions of the caregiver.

  1. Religious beliefs

In most religious societies, there are certain practices that are highly restricted. A good example is the procurement of an abortion. Whereas the termination of a pregnancy is allowed by the law in Australia, Christians and Muslims, amongst other minority religions are opposed to the practice. Abortion is taken to be an act that results to termination of life, an aspect that most religious sects believe it to be a reserve of “GOD.” Additionally, the religions restrict their followers from engaging in activities that support the ending of life of foetus. This implies that, a nurse that is strictly follows their religion, is restricted from performing certain operations and they can use religion as a basis of seeking “conscientious objection” and desist from according a client certain services. On this, the ANMF (2015) suggests that nurses should support colleagues that exercise their “conscientious objection” especially when it comes to conditions that might compromise their ethical and religious beliefs.

Nurses at times can be required to work extra hours beyond their stipulated timeframes especially in emergency situations. A nurse can refuse to work an extra shift or overtime and they are required to make arrangements for the client or patient to be attended to by a fellow colleague. This is because, the discontinuation of nursing services without making arrangements for the patient to be attended to can amount to professional misconduct and a nurse might face disciplinary action (Ontario Nurses’ Association, 2010).

  1. Event of a strike

Workers unions especially in the nursing fraternity can call for the discontinuation of nursing services a fact that may result to nurses halting their operations. Strikes work as a means of collective bargaining to solicit an employer to deliver certain needs for their workers. In this case, the employers find themselves in situation whereby they are short of employees and clinical care can be compromised. In such conditions might call for the administration to make immediate arrangements with some of the nurses in order to cater for the clients amicably (Ontario Nurses’ Association, 2010).

  1. The ethical implications for “conscientious objection”

The Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia permits nurses to abscond assignments or duty especially in situations that might comprise the wellbeing of a patient or the nurses (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2005). Whereas the nurses bear the legal and moral responsibility of ensuring quality nursing care is delivered to the people, absconding from duty in situations that are warranted by the Code of Ethics and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF, 2015) might in some situations breach the professional ethics of a nurse. For instance, religion restricts some nurses from assisting a client to procure an abortion. However, there are instances that might call for the termination of a pregnancy in order to save the life of patient. In such an instance, a nurse is required to provide assistance to the patient since it’s a matter of saving a life than risk losing both lives.

The Australian Nursing Council (2002) outlines the relevant legislations that amount to professional misconduct. A nurse is required to intervene in emergency situations regardless of their reason for a “conscientious objection.” According to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (2005) nurses should always value the interest of the people first and conduct their activities in accordance with legal and ethical requirements of practice. Notably, the refusal to be assigned duties should be conducted in a manner that does not expose the patient to danger.

As earlier stated, nurses have a right to refuse being assigned duties in unfavourable conditions, during a strike, or in situations that might endanger the life of a nurse. However, their action to opt for a “conscientious objection” can result in professional misconduct. It is important to note that nurses are also human and despite being required to put the interest of their client first, their needs should be considered prior to employing their services. Even though their actions might lead to a professional misconduct, the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia permits them to seek a “conscientious objection” at their own convenience (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2005).

  1. Conditions for “conscientious objection”

  1. Decision making process

The Code of Ethics requires nurses to be critical especially when it comes to making important decisions that justifies their “conscientious objection” (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2009). This implies nurses are supposed to be impeccable at resolving dilemmas that conflict with their obligations in conducting their practice. According to the College of Nurses of Ontario (2009), nurses should be proactive towards resolving ethical dilemmas that conflict with their obligations. In the process of exercising their “conscientious objection,” aspects such as the identification of conflicting obligations, resources, and values key issues arising from a situation ought to be considered (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2009). From here, nurses should communicate effectively by discussing and reviewing the ethical challenges present. Once the challenges have been established and reviewed; a plan should be devised, and implemented to cater for the nurses absconding duty on the basis of “conscientious objection” (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2009).

  1. Planning and implementation

The College of Nurses of Ontario (2009) suggests that it is important for a nurse to make arrangements for a patient to be handled by a colleague in situations that contravenes a nurse’s ethical and moral beliefs. Besides, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (2005) states that the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia requires nurses to exercise due diligence and arrange for nursing care to patient in the event that a situation can be unfavourable to a patient. Accordingly, nurses can opt for a “conscientious objection” upon ensuring that a client’s needs are well catered for without prejudicing on the quality of healthcare.

  1. Conclusion

In summary, a “conscientious objection” is a situation whereby a nurse absconds duty in situations granted by the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia. However, certain situations can amount to a professional misconduct particularly in emergency situations. In such instances, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (2005) requires nurses to make arrangements that shall ensure continuation of nursing care to patients. Besides, the decisions arrived at should be conducted in a manner that does not affect the quality of care to a client. Granted, nurses can opt for a “conscientious objection” by ensuring that their actions are beneficial to both the patient and themselves.

References

Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (ANMF), (2015). Conscientious Objection. Canberra: ANMF.

Australian Nursing Council, (2002). Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia. Canberra: Australian Nursing Council.

College of Nurses of Ontario, (2009). Practice Guideline: Refusing Assignments and Discontinuing Nursing Services. Ontario: College of Nurses of Ontario.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, (2005). Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia. Melbourne: Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association, (2010). My Right to Refuse Unsafe Work: A Guide for ONA Members. Ontario: The Ontario Nurses’ Association.