Introduction to Professional Ethics

Study material for the master students

Applying ethics to professional work

During the past 10 years there has been a strong movement towards evidence-based practice especially in the health care sector. This means that decisions should be based on research findings, expertise of the health care provider, patient’s opinions, views, situation and resources in the unit. Evidence-based health care is not a “cookbook” practice, and the emphasis is still on the individualized care of the patient and/or the client.

When approaching or solving ethical problems, we need to make choices on the basis of our beliefs and feelings about what is fundamentally good or right. However, applying ethics to clinical work does not mean that you have to reflect only on your own thoughts and experiences and discuss with your colleagues. Applying ethics to work also demands that we are aware of the current study results of our own working field and consider the ethical problems that we are dealing with.

Three brief examples are described below to remind you that there are a lot of research findings which can be used to discuss, to reflect on and to argue ethical dilemmas from different perspectives at clinical work. More in-depth information can be found from the references.

1. Ethical issues in the care of older people
2. Ethical challenges in education and the practical training period
3. Ethical issues in mental health care