Is the professional code still the cornerstone of clinical nursing practice?


  • Philip Esterhuizen BA(Cur) RN

    Corresponding author
    1. Clinical Nurse Tutor, Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthms, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    • Philip Esterhuizen, Jupiter 166 188 EK Amstelveen, The Netherlands

    Search for more papers by this author

  • This paper is based upon an essay written during the Master of Science in Nursing Course, Hogeschool van Utrecht, the Netherlands in collaboration with the University of Wales, Cardiff


Although codes of practice for those concerned with the health care of others have always been inherent in the structure of societies, they have been institutionalized within the nursing discipline since the end of the last century Up until the early 1970s they promulgated subservience to the medical discipline As a result of the processes of emancipation and professionalization, the philosophy of the nurse has come to contain concepts of autonomy, accountability and patient-advocacy, based on a personal and individualized care system Research in recent years has shown that nurses are making morally sound and ethically acceptable choices based on their own decision-making abilities, whilst having little or no active knowledge of the existing professional codes Based on the literature, the author discusses ethical codes in relation to their perception by nurses in the clinical situation The influence of the code in the areas of moral decision making, administration and management, and education are likewise discussed and the conclusion is reached that codes remain the cornerstone of nursing practice