Ethical decision making is complex and difficult. For this reason, many professions compose ethical codes to aid their practitioners, to aid those in the profession in dealing with perplexing situations that inevitably arise. The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics is of course one such code. It outlines the important general values, duties, and responsibilities that flow from the specific role of being a nurse. The relationship of the individual practitioner to the code, however, is an aspect of professional moral life that requires interpretation and may not always be well understood. A historical and theoretical analysis of the ANA Code can provide for an understanding as to how it is to be used not as a substitute for moral thinking but as an aid to moral thinking.
Department of Health Sciences and Health Administration, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Corresponding Author: Michael D. Dahnke, PhD, Department of Health Sciences and Health Administration, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, MS 501, 1505 Race St, Bellet Bldg, 12th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The author thanks H. Michael Dreher, PhD, RN, for his help in reviewing this article for presentation in print.