Research Paper: Life Dilemmas in Nursing End

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[. . .] Subsequent research has supported these findings (e.g., De Beer, Gastmans, & Dierckx de Casterle', 2004).

The principle beneficence, nonmaleficence, and veracity are directly applied by the ANA ethics codes in this case. The notions of doing good and doing no harm can become confused by personal feelings regarding the cessation of suffering in a person. The nurse's function is to prepare patients and families in these situations by providing education, sympathy, empathy, and continuing to provide care to ease suffering. It is simply wrong to take a person's life in the context of "treatment" (ANA, 2001). The slippery slope argument is probably the best example of why this is so. If nurses are obliged to end a terminal patient's life when the patient requests it due to pain and suffering how long will it be before we are terminating the lives of patients who are more depressed than terminal, or who may not be terminal but have serious conditions that affect their lifestyles adversely, etc. Individual nurses should not have the responsibility or power to make these decisions. Thus, justice dictates that in the context of the overarching commitment to respect for all persons, nurses are ethically unable to make these types of decisions. The solution to the dilemma is quite simple; nurses should not act with the direct intent of terminating the life of a person regardless of their personal feelings except when as discussed above instances of DNR etc. that do not violate this policy.

It is essentially important that nurses continue to receive education and guidance in dealing with this issue. In terms of discussion with legislators, hospital administrations, etc. we would first emphasize that learning and understanding the specific ethical foundations and parameters of professional practice imparts both support and guidance to nurses. This allows them to understand and deal with challenging issues regarding death and dying. First, all nurses but especially those in critical care units and other units where these issues often present should receive regular standardized didactics regarding end of life treatment, dealing with families and relatives of terminal patients, etc. Such didactics should include reviews of the ANA position statements and guidelines regarding end of life care as well as interactive exercises and case study illustrations. One such program is the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2009).

Second, it is extremely important that nurses as do all professionals understand that they must separate their personal feelings from their professional actions. This type of attitude begins in nursing training programs in colleges and universities. The emphasis on medical and nursing ethics should educate nurses as to the logical of ethical standards that might conflict with the personal opinions and attitudes and how to address these issues when faced with a dilemma. Early exposure to these issues and understanding ethical behavior can help address future dilemmas. In both school and practice nurses should have the opportunity to continue to learn.

Third, ANA guidelines for end of life dilemmas should be made readily available in all clinics and hospitals where such issues can occur. Fourth, continuing education on these issues should be required. Finally, all healthcare organizations should utilize their review boards to investigate potential areas of dilemmas and violations of ethics.

Personally, I can advocate for more didactics on the issue as well as become more grounded in ANA ethical guidelines. Consequently I could present the results of my findings in didactic form to my colleagues and organize discussion and support groups when these issue and become apparent within my practice. Moreover, I could advocate for DOA's and other advanced directives in all my patients and encourage my coworkers to do so as well.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2009). End-of-Life Nursing Education

Consortium (ELNEC). Retrieved January 31, 2012 from

American Nurses Association (2001). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements.

Silver Spring, MD: Author.

American Nurses Association. (2010). ANA Nursing World. In ANA Position Statements.

Retrieved January 31, 2012, from


Asch, D.A. & DeKay, M.L. (1997). Euthanasia among U.S. critical care nurses: Practices, attitudes, and social and professional correlates. Medical Care, 35, 890 -- 900.

De Beer, T., Gastmans, C., & Dierckx de Casterle', B. (2004). Involvement of nurses in euthanasia: a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Life Dilemmas in Nursing End.  (2012, February 11).  Retrieved June 15, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Life Dilemmas in Nursing End."  11 February 2012.  Web.  15 June 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Life Dilemmas in Nursing End."  February 11, 2012.  Accessed June 15, 2019.