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4

Canadian Nurses Association

Using the Code in Nursing Practice

The seven primary values are related and overlapping.

It is important for all

nurses to work toward adhering to the values in the

Code

at all times for persons

receiving care — regardless of attributes such as age, race, gender, gender identity,

gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, and others — in order to uphold

the dignity of all. Nurses recognize the unique history of — and the impact of the

social determinants of health on — the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. In health-

care practice, values may be in conflict. Such value conflicts need to be considered

carefully in relation to each practice situation. When such conflicts occur, or when

nurses think through an ethical situation, many find it helpful to use an

ethics model

for guidance in ethical reflection, questioning and decision-making (see Appendix A).

While nursing practice involves both legal and ethical

dimensions, the law and ethics remain distinct. Ideally,

a system of law would be compatible with the values

in the

Code

. However, there may be situations in which

nurses

collaborate

with others to change a policy that

is incompatible with ethical practice. When this occurs,

the

Code

can guide and support nurses in advocating

for changes to law, policy or practice. It can be a

powerful political instrument for nurses when they are

concerned about being able to practise ethically.

Nurses are responsible for the ethics of their practice. Given the complexity of ethical

situations, the

Code

can only outline nurses’ ethical responsibilities and guide them

in their reflection and decision-making. It cannot ensure ethical practice. For ethical

practice, other elements are necessary, such as a commitment to do good, a sensitivity

and receptiveness to ethical matters, and a willingness to enter into relationships with

persons who have health-care needs and other problems. Practice environments have

a significant influence on nurses’ ability to be successful in upholding the ethics of

their practice. Nurses’

self-reflection

and dialogue with other nurses and health-care

providers are essential components of ethical nursing practice.

Nurses’ self-reflection

and dialogue with

other nurses and

health-care providers

are essential

components of ethical

nursing practice.