Professionalism and ethics

In this article, the author discusses what professionalism means in the context of advanced nursing practice, and discusses the nature of conscientious objection, for example in the area of reproductive medicine and abortion. As nursing practice extends, along with technological and medical advances, non-medical prescribers may find themselves faced with new ethical dilemmas.

Another issue is that of conflict of interest, particularly between professionals and any private interest whose income depends on the professionals’ approval or prescription of their product – so including but not limited to the pharmaceutical industry. The author says that non-medical prescribers need a better understanding of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Code of Practice, and that perhaps there should be active policing of the Code and publication of case details. The article also points out how many drug trials, and how much nursing and medical education, are funded by the pharmaceutical industry and the impact this has. There is accumulating evidence that does not support the industry’s stance that education is the true intent of its programmes, argues the author, who says that there is now a body of thought that policies and guidelines are needed in this area.

Nurse prescribing extends beyond the therapeutic alliance into areas of research, human rights, policy, promoting change, financial issues and ethics. The author concludes by urging the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to set the highest standards, provide robust guidance for practitioners and show that it is willing to stand up to private industry.

Young A. Professionalism and ethical issues in nurse prescribing. Nurse Prescribing 2010; 8(6): 284-289.