The Importance of Code of Ethics in Nursing: Virtue Ethics and Beneficenc

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The Importance of Virtue Ethics and Beneficence in Nursing

It is often said that it takes a certain kind of person to become a nurse. They must be well-rounded, flexible, and ready for anything. A day in the life of a nurse is filled with critical thinking, tough conversations, moral dilemmas, and the selfless act of caring for others. Virtue ethics is a way of living that focuses on developing good character traits and always doing what the person believes to be good (Hursthouse, Pettigrove, 2018).

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Beneficence is the ethical principle of doing or producing good, performing acts of kindness and charity (Merriam-Webster, 2020). These ways of living are important in nursing, as well as in living a fulfilling life.

Ethical Theory

Virtue Ethics is a way of life that focuses on the character and quality of a person rather than the choices they make. It is not only a way of living but a feeling that a person has when they know they are doing good things. This is an important quality in a nurse. Nurses are constantly faced with difficult situations. They may have to deliver tough news to a patient or their family or diffuse a tense situation when a patient may be upset. It is important for nurses to stay calm and level-headed. They should diffuse the situation with patience, courage, and grace. This is a harmonious way of living that can be learned from observing others and practiced within.

Ethical Principle

Beneficence is the principle of doing good things for others, which is a common quality of a nurse. It can be assumed that one of the reasons someone would want to become a nurse is due to the fact they want to help others. Generally, nurses look out for the best interest of their patients. However, there may be instances where the nurse may feel they are doing good but not be doing what is best for the patient. An example of this could be an older patient who is in kidney failure. Naturally, the nurse would encourage the patient to start dialysis, although the patient may not feel they have the strength or desire to start dialysis. The nurse could be doing what they think is the good thing to do when it could be causing more stress to the patient.

Ethical Principles and Confidentiality

A large part of nursing is obtaining patients’ personal health information in order to help diagnose and achieve the best outcome for the patient. This information is confidential and should only be used and shared when communicating with other members of the healthcare team that will also be caring for the patient. These discussions should occur in a private area where it is unlikely the conversation will be overheard (Cheever, Hinkle, 2014. Pg.29), and the information relayed should be minimized to pertinent information only. A common situation that may arise is if the nurse and patient have a common acquaintance, say a neighbor or a friend. The acquaintance may ask the nurse how the patient is doing. Giving them information on the patient would compromise confidentiality. This would also compromise the ethical principle of autonomy, the patient’s right to make one’s own decisions because the patient did not consent for their information to be given to this person.

Application to Course Content

This course has discussed professional nursing organizations, the nurse’s role as a political advocate, the nurse as a learner and teacher, Quality and Safety Education for Nurses, and thoughts on caring. These are all important aspects of nursing, helping to create a well-balanced nurse. Involvement in these areas also enhances virtue, ethics, and beneficence. Virtue can be learned from watching others, emulating their behavior, and striving to find the perfect balance of kindness, courage, and patience. Caring is the basis of nursing; to be a caring person is to also act with beneficence.


It takes a well-rounded, caring person to be a good nurse. Virtue ethics is a perfect example of how a nurse should live their life and career. Also, living with beneficence, constantly doing good for others even in the toughest times. Not only doing what you think is good but what is best for the person you are caring for. Keeping pertinent medical information confidential, even from friends or family members. It is important for nurses to strive for that perfect balance in everything they are and everything they do. Always improve oneself and never settle for mediocrity in anything in life.

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The Importance of Code of Ethics in Nursing: Virtue Ethics and Beneficenc. (2023, Jun 15). Retrieved from