Understanding the Nursing Code of Ethics, Part Two

A nurse listens to an elderly patient's heart.In Part One, we reviewed the first five provisions of the nursing code of ethics developed by the American Nurses Association, in partnership with the Center for Ethics and Human Rights.* We continue our overview with the second half of the code. As with the first five provisions, the following provisions are designed to help you build a successful and fulfilling nursing career.

Provision 6: The nurse, through individual and collective effort, establishes, maintains, and improves the ethical environment of the work setting and conditions of employment that are conducive to safe, quality healthcare.

  • The virtues of nurses extend beyond what’s expected of everyone to include knowledge, skill, wisdom, patience, compassion, honesty, altruism, and courage. Nurses take pride in these virtues and work to create and maintain morally good environments.
  • Nurses turn their virtue into action by doing what’s right for their patients and their workplaces. They foster ethical practice by helping to put in place clear policies and procedures that establish ethical guidelines. By supporting environments that are designed for the equitable, fair, and just treatment of all, nurses nurture excellent nursing practices.
  • Ethical practices survive through the vigilance of nurses. By advocating for the fair treatment of employees and patients, nurses help maintain high moral standards.

Provision 7: The nurse, in all roles and settings, advances the profession through research and scholarly inquiry, professional standards development, and the generation of both nursing and health policy.

  • All nurses can participate in the advancement of the profession. They can expand nursing’s body of knowledge through scholarly research, participate in approved, ethical research involving human participants, and/or help develop a workplace structure that provides the organizational climate and infrastructure necessary for scholarly inquiry.
  • Whether in direct care, education, or management, all nurses can play a role in maintaining professional standards.
  • Another way nurses help their profession is by leading, serving, or mentoring on policy committees in their workplace. They can also participate in civic activities related to healthcare.

Provision 8: The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public to protect human rights, promote health diplomacy, and reduce health disparities.

  • Nurses believe that health is a universal right and therefore nursing is a universal need.
  • Nurses help ensure the health of all people worldwide. They are committed to restoring health, preventing illness, and alleviating suffering. They achieve this through their own work and by supporting and/or promoting policies, projects, and programs that address determinants of health, including social determinants like poverty, access to clean water, sanitation, human rights violations, and hunger.
  • Through community organizations and groups, nurses help advance health and human rights. They collaborate with others to change unjust structures and address barriers to health.
  • In the effort to help all people achieve better health, nurses stress human rights protections. Nurses have the power to address issues of genocide, abuse, rape as an instrument of war, hate crimes, human trafficking, exploitation of migrant workers, and the feminization of poverty. A nurse will only subordinate human rights concerns in extreme situations.

Provision 9: The profession of nursing, collectively through its professional organizations, must articulate nursing values, maintain the integrity of the profession, and integrate principles of social justice into nursing and health policy.

  • Nurses have the support and representation of their professional organizations. These groups give nurses a voice and communicate to the public the values central to nursing. By acting in solidarity, nurses can influence social justice and global health.
  • The nursing profession is involved in an ongoing formal and informal dialogue with society. The code of ethics for nurses is a vital part of the explicit covenant between the profession and society, laying out the values of respect, fairness, and caring.
  • In addition to advocating for nurses and supporting the code of ethics, professional nursing organizations help improve health and healthcare by pushing for social justice at every level, from local to international.
  • One of the key ways nursing organizations address issues of social justice is by engaging in the political process and addressing legislative and regulatory issues that affect health. These issues include environmental ones such as environmental degradation, aridification, resource exploitation, ecosystem destruction, and other environmental problems that affect health.

How Can You Learn More About Nursing?

Understanding the nursing code of ethics is just one part of advancing your nursing career. You can also earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) or an advanced nursing degree such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), PhD in Nursing,or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). All of these are available as online nursing degree programs, meaning you can earn them while you continue to work your current job. Plus, by earning any of these nursing degrees online, you may be able to save yourself time and money. Coupled with the nursing code of ethics, the right online degree can help you lead a fulfilling nursing career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online nursing degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


*American Nurses Association, Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, on the Internet at http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/CodeofEthicsforNurses/Code-of-Ethics-For-Nurses.html

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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