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Moral Courage and Advocating for Patients

Moral Courage and Advocating for Patients

When I was in nursing school I was taught that the role of a nurse is to be a patient advocate. To me that sounded easy. Of course I would speak up for my patients! No Problemo!

Regardless, there is no instruction manual to teach us how to advocate for our patients. It requires a great deal of moral courage and experience. It also requires grace under pressure, 

Moral courage is the courage to take action for moral reasons despite the risk of adverse consequences. For most nurses, we perform acts of moral courage so often that we barely notice them. A nurse with moral courage has some of the following characteristics:

1. Attentiveness- attentive nurses are aware, alert, and awake. They are present and mindful of each interaction, and they slow down to focus on the details that matter.  

2. Responsibility- responsible nurses are rational and accountable. They admit to errors and put aside their pride without fear of punishment for the greater good of their patients and colleagues.

3. Competence - competent nurses are capable and qualified. They value the ongoing acquisition of knowledge and skill required to do the job.

4. Responsiveness- responsive nurses communicate effectively and articulately. You don't leave your patients in the dark and you keep the conversation going with everyone that should be involved.

Nurses can enhance their moral courage by advancing their moral reasoning skills, nurturing their personal ethic of care, and enhancing their professional and cultural competence.

Acquiring these skills takes time. You aren't born fresh out of nursing school with them. They build with each patient interaction, and with each opportunity that you choose to step beyond yourself to better understand someone.

The best nurses are the one's that aren't afraid. Their moral courage radiates off of them. They don't have a problem setting boundaries with their patients, or speaking up against a popular decision or process. 

Comment below to define what moral courage means to you. Have a great week Colorado Nurses!

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