Filipino nurses are grounded by the code of ethics, which places the value of life, respect, competence, duties and responsibilities, and dignity as its foundation. These are the common words resounding in the code. It encompasses all the areas in the nursing profession. However, there is one thing diverse from these words. The code speaks of what the nurse can give to the people, the practice, his co-workers, the society and the environment, and finally the profession. It never touched on the aspect of what the profession can give to a nurse. A nurse who lives in a far away place serving the most remote area the profession has ever seen; who has obligations to take care of patients no matter how many they are or how safe the place is; and yet, paid below what is just. Where is the value of equality? Egalitarianism? Is it ethically just to let a nurse work beyond her time and pay less?
There is that ethical decadence in this code. We look only at one side of the coin; we have not seen the saddening truth—the truth that most nurses are abused ethically. We always instill that nurses should be advocates of their patients but let me ask you, who is the advocate of the nurse when she is put to work more than what she is paid for? Who stands by her when she is sick or needs a counselor? None I tell you. This is the harsh truth for nurses. WE are obliged but no code obliges anyone to help the nurses justly. Now who is ethically deprived of their right to life, respect, and dignity? Although, the Nursing act of 2002 guarantees a fair salary for nurses but then again, is it being implemented? The answer is NO. Our volunteer nurses, although they were not obliged to give their services, they give it in exchange of a certificate of training not of a working experience; they are being dishonored in ways that are unjust and ill.
Some would surely disagree with what I have inferred. They would even argue that “when you enrolled in school for nursing you have been taught the obligations for a client that you should follow and what consequences you will face if these are not met”. Let me ask you once more, who have the obligations to treat us justly? Who will face the consequences if these obligations to us are not met? These are just some of the many things nurses are being abused of.
I fear for those nurses who are working in far flung areas, they are in grave danger more than we in the suburb. Some would say in the native tongue “Jalo ya kansaw pero si mira tamen tu el maga risas del maga niños y el maga jente que ta rindi gracias con el maga nars, bastante ya gayod para quita el cansanya del trabajo” (Bahala na kahit nakakapagod kasi kung nakikita mo yung tawa sa mga bata at ang mga tao na taos-pusong nagpapasalamat sa ating mga nars, sapat na iyon upang mapawi ang pagod sa trabaho). Indeed, it quenches the sore on our soles and hands having to hear this kind of praise but will it last for a lifetime to feed our crumbling stomachs? Will it turn into money to send our future children to school?
A code is to be followed no matter what because it is what we have pledged for. However, what is being imposed is not necessarily ethical and what is ethical is not necessarily being imposed. There are two sides of a coin; one must flip it over to see the other side. Think, reflect, and deflect.
Esse Quam Videri.
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