Code of Ethics: 2017 edition released

September / October 2017   Comments

Lisa Ashley, a CNA senior nurse advisor, answers Canadian Nurse’s questions about the new edition of the Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses.

Why was the document updated?
Codes of ethics are living, dynamic resources for professionals. They must respond to complex, always-changing realities to guide ethical practice. The CNA code is intended to guide nurses in the ethical challenges that arise every day in every care setting. Since 2008, there have been changes in our professional and social context on many fronts such as evolving understanding about inequality, issues related to safe staffing, medical assistance in dying and environmental stewardship. The code was updated to guide professional nursing practice in 2017.

What’s new in the 2017 edition?
This edition contains new and updated content that reflects contemporary practice needs. Examples include new content that addresses medical assistance in dying and advocating for quality work environments; updated terminology, definitions and references; and updated ethical models, including Oberle and Raffin Bouchal.

The Code serves to reinforce important aspects of nursing practice and supports a climate of collaboration critical to nursing in Canada.

What was the revision process?
The Code was developed by nurses, for nurses. CNA worked closely with an advisory committee of national and international experts in ethics, nursing regulators and associations, and nursing specialty groups. We consulted with nurses in all domains of practice and with other health-care professionals in Canada and abroad. The 2017 Code is the result of extensive consultation to inform the best possible ethical guidance for nurses.

What is a code of ethics?
In the case of the CNA Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses, it is a statement of the ethical values of RNs and nurses licensed in extended roles, such as nurse practitioners. It demonstrates nurses’ commitment to persons with health-care needs and persons receiving care. It is for all nurses, no matter where they work — clinical practice, education, administration, research or policy. It may also be of interest to and useful for other health-care providers.

What are the dual purposes of this document?
The Code is an aspirational document designed to inform everyone about the ethical values, subsequent responsibilities and endeavours of nurses. It is also a regulatory tool. Nursing in Canada is a self-regulating profession; thus, nurses are bound to a code of ethics as part of a regulatory process that serves and protects the public.

How is CNA making the document available?
The Code booklet and a pocket version are available now for purchase. Coming soon is a downloadable PDF, which will also be for sale. You can also read an online flip-book version. To learn more, go to cna‑

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