An Ethical Struggle

901 Words 4 Pages
Caring for the Enemy: An Ethical Struggle

Every day, nurses are presented with complex ethical decisions that influence their daily practice. One notable ethical challenge specific to military nursing is caring for the enemy combatant. This ethical challenge is just as relevant to nurse anesthesia as it is to bedside intensive care nursing. The purpose of this essay is to explain how caring for the enemy poses an ethical challenge and health risk, introduce the concept of resiliency, and present recommended resiliency strategies to minimize the ethical challenges experienced when caring for the enemy combatant.
Providing care to the enemy combatant is a unique experience. It stimulates various conflicting
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Moral distress is, “The personal disequilibrium caused by acting against what a person believes to be right” (Grace, 2017). Additional research in this area strongly links the ethical struggle, or moral distress, experienced with caring for the enemy combatant to posttraumatic stress disorder (Gibbons & Shafer, 2016). Interestingly, a more recent study by Mealer, Jones, & Meek (2017), concluded that nurses practicing with advanced degrees are 18% more likely to develop posttraumatic stress disorder when working in stressful environments. When considering the data, one can reason that an advanced practice nurse working in a combat setting while providing care for enemy combatants is even more at risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder. These statistics are not provided to create a situation where hesitation cripples delivery of care; rather, they are provided to highlight the seriousness of the situation – ethical struggles lead to internal tension. Military healthcare providers will care for enemy combatants. Everyone will react differently, but if healthcare providers are empowered with knowledge and resiliency strategies they can positively respond to the adversity they will experience while deployed in the combat …show more content…
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Gibbons, S.W., & Shafer, M. (Eds.). (2016). Nursing ethics: Vulnerable populations and changing systems of care. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Grace, P.J. (2017). Nursing ethics and advanced practice in the anesthesia and perioperative period. In P.J. Grace (Ed.), Nursing Ethics and Professional Responsibility in Advanced Practice (3rd ed.) (p. 374). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Mealer, M., Jones, J., & Meek, P. (2017). Factors affecting resilience and development of posttraumatic stress disorder in critical care nurses. American Journal of Critical Care, 26(3), 184-192. doi:10.4037/ajcc2017798
Thompson, S., Mastel-Smith, B., Duke, G., Haas, B., Vardman, S., & Yarbrough, S. (2014). Military nurses caring for the enemy. International Journal for Human Caring 18(2), 61-70.

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