Delivering Dignity in Nursing

JCN“Recently I admitted a patient whose circumstances were as undignified as I’ve ever encountered,” writes JCN editor Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner. “He was a mess: unkempt, smelly, psychotic, obese, and in cardiopulmonary distress . . . I kept asking God to help me see this person as he did.”

As nurses, we struggle to treat others with the dignity they deserve. “When we find ourselves in places where it is hard to extend dignity, we can pray to the God who knows our weaknesses and exactly how to help us,” writes Kathy in the Journal of Christian Nursing, January/March 2011. Read more of her article, “Digging Into Dignity.”

Another JCN article,The Place of Dignity in Everyday Ethics by Dónal P. O’Mathúna, expands “ethics” beyond just life and death situations. How we treat patients and colleagues promotes (or demotes) human dignity and ethical conduct. 

“Illness and disease force us to think about the basis of our dignity and what makes life dignified. This points to how illness, disease, aging and disability impact our sense of dignity and that of others,” writes O’Mathúna.

“It also points to the significant impact our choices can have when we interact with those who are ill or disabled,” he says. “Put positively, healthcare settings create opportunities for undignified situations to be transformed into ones where dignity is upheld and promoted.”

Read more in this feature JCN article which is free until January 31, 2011.

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