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Examples of Ethical Dilemmas that Nurses face Every Day

Nursing is a career where ethical dilemmas are presented nearly every day. Whether a nurse works in a hospital, doctors office or medical clinic, she likely will find that she is faced with a tough decision at least once a day if not once an hour. Ethical dilemmas are especially difficult because there is usually not a clear cut right or wrong answer. The solutions to most ethical dilemmas are not always happy solutions or easy solutions. To make matters even trickier for nurses, the same ethical dilemma on two different occasions may require a different solution each time. The following are several common ethical dilemmas that nurses face while on the job.

Examples of Ethical Dilemmas that Nurses Deal with on a Regular Basis

•Dealing with the pro-life and pro-choice debate. As nurses are people too, they usually have opinions on this heated topic in America. The difficulty comes in when a nurse who has one view point has to take care of a patient who has a different viewpoint. In this ethical dilemma example, a nurse might consider it important that a woman has a right to choose, and a patient comes in whose own life is in jeopardy due to a pregnancy, but the patient is vehemently against the abortion. This is one example of a difficult situation a nurse might be faced with during her shift.

•Nurses often are forced to walk a fine line between patient freedom and nurse control. For instance, a patient might decide that she is not going to use pain medication during child birth, but a nurse might feel she will have a better outcome if she uses pain medication. The nurse and her leader must decide at what point, and if there is a point, that the patient should no longer have the freedom to make a medical choice for herself.

•Most nurses find themselves in ethical dilemmas when working with minors. All patients are afforded a certain amount of privacy by law, but some information about minors must be shared with parents. A nurse might have difficulty dealing with a minor patient that has a medical problem they do not want their parents to know about. This is a tough position that pediatric nurses face each day, and it is important that they know the law as well as work with their supervisors closely in cases such as these.

•Being open and honest with patients can be extremely difficult for nurses. Some nurses have difficulty determining whether it is best for a patient to know the truth, or whether it is better to fib a little to keep the patient relaxed and happier. For instance, if a doctor informs the nurse that the patient has something extremely wrong with them, but the nurse knows the stress this news will cause and only make matters worse, she must decide how and when to deliver this information. This is a difficult ethical dilemma example that nurses will probably encounter nearly every day that they work.

•Another ethical dilemma that can be troublesome for nurses is balancing empirical knowledge that a nurse knows is a fact versus a patient’s personal or religious beliefs. Many religious beliefs prevent people from having certain medical procedures done. Sometimes, these same procedures could be life saving for a patient. A nurse needs to know how to walk the line between explaining a patient the options that he or she might have versus offending the patient’s personal or religious beliefs. In addition, the nurse must come up with a way to deal with the patient’s family in this situation as well.

As if nursing wasn’t a difficult career in and of itself, the ethical dilemmas that nurses face each day make it even more challenging for nurses in the field. Couple this with a nursing shortage and many nurses leave their shifts feeling stressed and tired. When it comes to ethical dilemmas, nurses should work closely with a team to help support one another and come up with individual solutions to individual problems. It is essential that nurses recognize there isn’t one right or wrong answer to any particular problem, and each situation must be analyzed on an individual basis.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association

Colorado Technical University Online

Specialized, industry-current degree programs in Health Administration Services, Healthcare Management and Nursing.

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education

Grand Canyon University

Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!

Programs:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
  • M.S. in Nursing with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • And more...

Liberty University

We are committed to helping you achieve your goals and complete your degree as quickly as possible.

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
  • BS in Nursing (RN to BSN)

Baker College Online

Baker College is proud to be the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. With one of the highest graduate employment rates in the country, our mission is to help our students find meaningful employment.

Programs:

  • Nursing (Post-licensure) - Bachelor
  • Nursing Administration - Master's
  • Nursing Education - Master's

Kaplan University

Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.

Programs:

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
  • Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
  • And more...

Kaplan University

Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.

Programs:

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
  • Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
  • And more...

Jacksonville University

The University

With over 80 years of academic achievements, Jacksonville University is a traditional, longstanding institution consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best colleges.

Programs:

  • MSN Clinical Nurse Educator
  • RN to BSN (licensed RNs only)
  • RN to MSN in Clinical Nurse Educator
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Bradley University

Established in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent institution of higher learning in Peoria, Illinois. Inspired by our founder, notable philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, we pursue excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and service; and we celebrate leadership, integrity, diversity and collaborative learning.

Programs:

  • Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Leadership Track (MSN to DNP)
  • Online Master of Science in Nursing (BSN to MSN-FNP)
  • Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Family Nurse Practitioner Track (BSN to DNP)
  • And more...

Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
  • BS in Nursing (RN to BSN)

Northcentral University

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

Programs:

  • Doctor of Education - Nursing Education

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