Nursing Ethics: Navigating Tough Moral Dilemmas

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By Medical Edge Recruitment

September 27, 2023



Nursing Ethics: Navigating Tough Moral Dilemmas

Medical Edge Recruitment provided this article.

Written by: Grace Williams, Human Resources Manager, Medical Edge Recruitment

In the words of Albert Einstein, “The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life.”  I love how Albert Einstein narrows in on the essentiality of our continuous pursuit of the paramountcy of morality as a compass when navigating life.


As you navigate tough moral dilemmas in the nursing profession, it is important to always remember your moral and ethical responsibilities when faced with tough calls. Cambridge Dictionary defines ethics as a system of accepted rules about behavior based on what is considered right and wrong. As Potter Stewart puts it, “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” Potter also weighs in on the essentiality of understanding ethics. There is a clear line of demarcation between what one has a right to do and what must be done. The duty to exercise morality when hanging in the balance requires an application of the standardized code of ethics, which may often contradict with one’s normative values. Thus, it serves as a great reminder that nursing ethics systemically reinforces the discipline that regulates the moral pinpoints of nursing practice.

Practical moral dilemmas may come across your desk every day in the most simplistic or intricate way, so I implore you to remember to be brave in these circumstances. It may often be a jostle between competing values, such as navigating patient-to-nurse conversations about pro-life and pro-choice, or a scenario of protecting an adolescent’s right to privacy; it may be a patient seeking advice about Euthanasia or navigating the stopping points when giving patients advice in life-threatening circumstances when their belief systems go against medical recommendations. Remember to stand firm on the ethical blueprint.

Here are some key takeaways to implement as you navigate tough dilemmas throughout your journey:


Know the state laws:

It is beneficial to learn about the laws within your state that directly deal with your field of expertise or consult with a legal professional. These little pockets of knowledge will help you as you navigate complex moral dilemmas.

Know the policies of your facility:


It is beneficial for you to learn about the policies of your facility and to be very knowledgeable of your employee handbook. This will also assist with your daily decisions when faced with difficult decisions.

Know your code of ethics:

Remembering your general code of ethics as a nurse will assist you with enforcing your rights as a professional as well as enforcing the rights of your patient.

Recognize or find the problem –

You must first identify the facts and information which created the problem or moral dilemma.

Apply the “Must Knows”–

a full examination of these will help you to arrive at the best possible solution by measuring the possible resolutions against the facts.

Choose a course of action and implementation –

after you examine, it’s time to choose the best course of action and implement it.

N. Biller Andorno says it best in the Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, “Whereas ethics … provides an analytical framework for reflecting about the relationships at stake and about how concrete moral agents can be empowered to make decisions that reflect a high level of moral maturity.” 

On your next assignment, as you navigate the complexities of tough moral dilemmas, remember your pocket of “Must Knows” when faced with difficult decisions, knowing that within you lies bravery and wisdom, leading you to be more than capable of standing firm on what must be done.

Searching for an agency that will support you?

Medical Edge Recruitment is a premier travel nursing recruitment agency specializing in providing top talent to clients in the healthcare industry. We connect clinical and allied providers to their ideal opportunities, focusing on building long-lasting relationships through honesty and transparency. In travel nursing, bigger does not always mean better. While we have an extensive network of job opportunities, our experienced team is dedicated to making a personalized provider experience a priority. There are a lot of moving parts in getting set up for a new assignment, but we take care of all the details along the way. Adventure awaits. Let Medical Edge Recruitment show you where to go next!

Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.

If you are a new travel nurse or looking into becoming a travel nurse:

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