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So, you want to be a nurse? A brief introduction to nursing
So, you want to be a nurse? A brief introduction to nursing

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3.1 Beliefs and values in action in nursing practice

Nursing involves many aspects of human interactions including communications, decision making and relationship building. Your beliefs and values are a key feature of who you are as a nurse. In your role as a nurse, you need to understand your beliefs and values so you can ensure you deliver professional, non-judgemental care to those who need it.

Activity 4 Exploring your beliefs

In each scenario below imagine you are the nurse. Reflect on how you feel when reading the scenario, how you think you would react and explore what beliefs your reaction might be based on.

Scenario 1

A patient has been admitted to your ward/unit who is ill but has committed a crime against a child.

In this scenario, do you think the person is deserving of treatment? If you have answered yes or no, then what do you think this tells you about your values and beliefs?

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Scenario 2

An alcohol and drug-dependent person has been admitted for a liver transplant. You are aware that they have tried on numerous occasions to give up alcohol and drugs, but they have made it clear they intend to go back to this after their treatment.

In this scenario, do you think the person is deserving of treatment? If you have answered yes or no, then what do you think this tells you about your values and beliefs?

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Scenario 3

A young person has been brought into your care following a suicide attempt. They do not want to be treated and discuss with you ‘wanting to die’.

In this scenario how do you think you would respond? What do you think your reaction tells you about your values and beliefs?

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Scenario 4

A child with severe learning and physical disabilities is very ill and a discussion needs to take place with the parents around resuscitation options.

In this scenario how do you think you would respond? What do you think your reaction tells you about your values and beliefs?

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Discussion

The feedback below looks at how your values and beliefs may have impacted the way you responded to the four scenarios.

Values have a major influence on the actions of practitioners in subtle and less subtle ways. Sometimes you are not aware of your beliefs and how they might shape the way you think about patients. For example, if you believe that people should control their drinking and not expect any help from the NHS if they can’t, then you are likely to believe that the patient in Scenario 2 does not deserve help.

Your personal values and beliefs are integral to your professional socialisation. The values and beliefs you come into nursing with shape your development as a nurse, and your professional socialisation. It is during this time that you learn what it is to be a nurse, how to be non-judgemental and to not allow prejudice to shape your decision making. Although you may truly believe that the person in Scenario 1 does not deserve any form of treatment, health services are there for all and your nursing values suggest you care for everyone.

Often, personal beliefs and values are at the heart of why people choose nursing.

People often say they chose nursing because they wanted to care for others and help others to become as independent as possible. These are beliefs and values about supporting vulnerable and ill people in society. You will also have a set of personal beliefs that might have been shaped by your religious views. In the case of Scenario 3, you may hold a personal belief that suicide is wrong and that might then shape the way you interact with that young person.

Most studies suggest you do not change your basic values and beliefs when encountering scenarios that may challenge your views, but that you do take a particular approach when these beliefs and values conflict with the organisation.

Generally, you hold on to your basic values when you enter into nursing, but you may find times when these personal values are challenged. An example might be that you hold the belief that all life should be protected under any circumstances. It may be that in Scenario 4 where there is a discussion about whether a child is resuscitated this clashes with your personal beliefs and values.

Where too much conflict between your personal beliefs and values occurs, nurses may choose to leave the organisation and even the profession.