Definition of values, morals, and ethics and their differences in Nursing Practice

Definition of values, morals, and ethics and their differences in Nursing Practice

We are all shaped by our past, including our upbringing. We often make decisions based on guidelines, rules, or a specific worldview that acts a frame of reference that helps us judge right from wrong. In this assignment, you will write a 2 page paper describing your own moral compass.

Address the following points:

  • How are values, morals, and ethics defined? Explain how they are different and similar, using examples to illustrate.
  • What personal, cultural, and spiritual values and morals do you hold? Are some more important than others to you? Explain how these contribute to your personal worldview.
  • How do your values and morals contribute to your philosophy of nursing and influence your professional nursing practice? Explain how they affect clinical decision-making.
  • In what ways are the values and morals guiding your personal worldview congruent with those guiding your professional nursing practice? Explain and use examples to illustrate.
  • Are there areas where the values and morals guiding your personal worldview are not congruent with those guiding your professional nursing practice? If not, are there possible scenarios where this could be the case for the RN? Explain and indicate how the RN could use the ANA\’s and ICN\’s code of ethics to reconcile those differences.


Values, Morals and Ethics in Nursing Practice

Values are inherent personal rules and principles that determine a person’s decision making on right and wrong (Butts & Rich, 2019). Examples of values include integrity and honesty among others. Morals refers to a belief system based on values and rooted from the person’s socialization, religion and other beliefs. The difference between morals and values is that morals are taught and have a social value to them while values are inherent (Butts & Rich, 2019). A person is judged for being immoral and not to a person without values. Morals are set externally and expected to be adhered to for all people within the external parameters; for instance within the religion, culture or family. This means that they are deeply rooted thus unlikely to change while values are personal thus subject to changes over time.  On the other hand, ethics and morals have many similarities but are different. Ethics are defined as specific practical rules and actions that are set to guide behavior (Butts & Rich, 2019). An example is the Nursing Code of Ethics that indicates that nurses should always seek to do good, ensure justice and do no harm. Additionally, an ethical practice does not have to be moral and similarly, a moral act does not have to be ethical.

Personally, I hold various personal, cultural and spiritual values and morals. My personal values are honesty, commitment and integrity. Being a Christian, my spiritual values are based on loving others the way I love myself and emulating Jesus. Based on my cultural upbringing, it is considered moral to respect one’s elders and those in authority. While I uphold all these values and morals, I consider the spiritual and personal values as more important than the cultural ones. This is because, I find the cultural values as aimed at ensuring order in the cultural setting and may not always align with my personal values. These values and morals contribute to my personal world view as they guide my decision-making on prioritization and behavior. They influence how I live, why I am living, what I want in life and what I do not want.

Personal, I believe values and morals affect clinical decision making when one is faced with conflicting situations (Fourie, 2015). I incorporate my values and morals into my professional nursing practice thus seek to serve with honesty, being committed to the practice and treating others as well as I would treat myself. This means that my values and morals have an influence in the clinical decisions I make. The nursing practice holds dignity for others valuable as well as integrity from the personnel due to the critical human events handled by nurses (Butts & Rich, 2019). These values align with my personal values and morals to a great extent. For instance, my values in integrity, honesty, commitment and offering the best care based on my ability aligns with the nursing practice values that emphasize on accuracy and commitment in caring, sympathy and selfless concern to the wellbeing of my patients.

Due to the nature of the nursing practice, there are areas where personal values and morals conflict with those guiding the professional practice thus causing ethical dilemmas (Fourie, 2015). Upholding privacy could be a conflicting situation between my values and the profession’s values. It could result to moral distress where I have to choose between honesty and withholding information even when the patient would benefit from me disclosing the information. However, using the ANA’s and ICN’s code of ethics, I could reconcile these differences as they have a set code of ethics. For instance, ANA emphasizes on maintaining on telling the truth to ensure collaborative nurse-patient relationship (Epstein & Turner, 2015). An example is when a patient discloses/shares information on an intention to commit a crime or to avenge by killing someone once they get healed and confiding in me not to disclose such information to anyone. Whereas it is unethical to break patient confidentiality, it would be morally wrong for me not to alert the authorities and help save a life.


Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L. (2019). Nursing ethics. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Epstein, B., & Turner, M. (2015). The nursing code of ethics: Its value, its history. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing20(2), 1-10.

Fourie, C. (2015). Moral distress and moral conflict in clinical ethics. Bioethics29(2), 91-97.


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