All medical practitioners must exhibit moral conduct conducive to the advancement of society and medicine. If their conduct is not always good, they violate their code of ethics. Nurses abide by the International Council of Nurses. Moral conduct is necessary in some states which require an evaluation for Good Moral Character. By law, licensed nurses must be of Good Moral Character, conducting themselves in accordance with the ICN's code of ethics.
International Council of Nurses Code of Ethics
The International Council of Nurses Code of Ethics is based on social values and needs. It has been used as the standard for nurses around the world since 1953, with periodic revisions. ICN's ethical code reflects societal values, recognizing the commitment of nurses to human rights, such as the right to life, dignity and respect. According to the ICN Code of Ethics, nurses have a responsibility to promote and restore health, prevent illness and alleviate suffering.
How Good Moral Character is Assessed
Some states require nurses to be of Good Moral Character before they can become licensed. It is defined as having professional competence and avoiding risks to public health, safety or welfare. Undetectable by scientific measures, GMC is assessed using past and present conduct. Examples of GMC include honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, accountability, reliability, and the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Nurses lacking GMC may have past or present conduct that is hostile or destructive, and socially irresponsible.
Unethical conduct may keep nurses from receiving a license. Examples that may bar nurses from licensure include certain criminal convictions and the disciplinary actions of other jurisdictions. Felony cases in particular are grounds for the permanent exclusion of nursing. Unethical conduct of severe consequence includes violent crimes, drug trafficking or manufacturing, and exploiting or otherwise criminally mistreating another person.
The ethical principles of nurses ensure moral conduct. Ethical principals are fundamentally good, in that they treat people as ends in themselves, and not as means. Nurses must be respectful, their convictions unmarred by gender, race, age, sexual identity, politics or social status. They behave morally by respecting the dignity of all humanity. Further, nurses must facilitate the passage of moral conduct to the next generation of nurses by maintaining current medical knowledge, sharing knowledge with colleagues, upholding ethical principles and reporting the unethical behaviors of colleagues.
Johnny Kilhefner is a writer with a focus on technology, design and marketing. Writing for more than five years, he has contributed to Writer's Weekly, PopMatters, Bridged Design and APMP, among many other outlets.