Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 21(4) November 2008 : 85-99.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2008.20290
Nursing Research

The Influence of Teams, Supervisors and Organizations on Healthcare Practitioners' Abilities to Practise Ethically

Sarah Wall and Wendy Austin


Healthcare practitioners make many important ethical decisions in their day-to-day practices. Questions arising in daily practice require practitioners to make prudent, balanced and good decisions, which are most effectively made interpersonally and reflectively. It is commonly assumed that the team-based structure of healthcare delivery can provide practitioners with the support needed to address ethical questions in their practice, especially if the team involves multidisciplinary collaboration. A phenomenological study was conducted in which the impact of the team and the larger organization on practitioners' experiences of dealing with moral challenges was uncovered. Various mental healthcare professionals shared their experiences of ethically challenging situations in their practices and described the ways in which their teammates and supervisors affected how they faced these troubling situations. These findings allow us to see that there is considerable room for healthcare managers, many of whom are nurses, to facilitate supportive, ethical environments for healthcare professionals. An understanding of the essential experience of practising ethically allows for an appreciation of the significance of the team's role in supporting it and enables healthcare managers to target support for ethical healthcare work.



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