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11.1: Introduction

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    For me, this beautiful, rich and energetic country of ours can become a model of the just society in which every citizen will enjoy his fundamental rights.

    —Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968


    The Canadian Nurses Association Code of Ethics is meant to guide Canadian nurses throughout their nursing practice. According to that code, “Nursing ethics is concerned with how broad societal issues affect health and well-being. This means that nurses endeavour to maintain an awareness of aspects of social justice that affect the social determinants of health and well-being and to advocate for improvements” (CNA, 2017, p. 3). The first part of the Code of Ethics describes the core ethical responsibilities central to nursing practice. The Code of Ethics is grounded in nurses’ professional relationships with persons receiving care as well as with students, nursing colleagues, and other health care providers. The seven primary values are:

    1. Providing safe, compassionate, competent, and ethical care
    2. Promoting health and well-being
    3. Promoting and respecting informed decision making
    4. Honouring dignity
    5. Maintaining privacy and confidentiality
    6. Promoting justice
    7. Being accountable

    The second part of the CNA Code of Ethics “describes activities nurses can undertake to address social inequities. Ethical nursing practice involves endeavouring to address broad aspects of social justice that are associated with health and well-being” (CNA, 2017, p. 3). A brief overview of the ethical responsibilities of a nurse leader will then lead to a focus on the advocacy—driven by the CNA Code of Ethics—required to promote the optimal health of citizens throughout the world.

    Learning Objectives

    1. Identify the importance of ethics to nursing leadership.
    2. Describe advocacy.
    3. Compare the advocate approach to the paternalistic approach in addressing health inequities.
    4. Investigate how the nurse leader uses advocacy to introduce change that addresses health inequities.
    5. Identify the different types of power.
    6. Recognize the role nurse leaders can have in political action.
    7. Reflect on your own response to change.
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