The nature, origin, and validity of ethics for nursing administrators

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Virginia Tech

The nature, origin and validity of ethics for nursing administrators were studied using a historical design with analytical and conceptual methodologies. This was done for the purpose of clarifying those issues for the practical matter of ethical decision making for nursing administrators. Research in that area has been limited.

An extensive analysis of 491 ethical articles, published from 1900-1989 and classified as personal, professional and administrative ethics; an analysis of the nursing codes of ethics and registration laws; trends in case and statute law; as well as conceptual literature and research provided the base for the facts, reasoned arguments, conclusions, interpretations and recommendations. Validity control features, (e.g., primary sources, multiple types of sources, and historical comparisons of trends) were used to minimize internal and external criticisms, as well as ensure integrity. Inter-rater reliability (90%) was ascertained to establish the consistency of the classifications of the data for the sake of replication.

The results of this research supported the hypothesis that there is a distinctive nature to the ethics for nursing administrators, especially those employed in public organizations. This research also concluded that the ethic of the traditional staff nurse is inappropriate for nursing administrators. Less significant results and conclusions linked nursing administration with fresh ideas such as the public interest, public advocacy, public policy, constitutional competency, utilitarianism, and collective ethical decision making. A new model termed Collective Caring, was introduced as a more valid ethic. The Collective Caring Model has three major components (i.e., caring, cooperation and collectives) enhanced by utilitarianism. Collective Caring should be used to depersonalize the situation and integrate the values of the different collectives, as well as encourage utilitarianism, sharing, caring and cooperating for collective ethical decision making. Nursing administrators would be more critically aware of collective (e.g., public) values and more thoughtful about making ethical decisions. In addition, the effectiveness of the profession would be improved by clarifying and enhancing professional and collective relationships.