September 19th, 2011
As citizens of the United States we are all familiar with The Bill of Rights, and as anyone who works in a hospital knows, there is a Patient's Bill of Rights too. But did you know there is a Nurses' Bill of Rights?
The Nurses' Bill of Rights was adopted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) Board of Directors on June 26, 2001. "The ANA Bill of Rights for Registered Nurses is a powerful statement of the rights that every nurse must have to provide high quality patient care in a safe environment,” said ANA President Mary Foley, in 2001. "We believe that nurses have the right to a safe work environment, to practice in a manner that assures the provision of safe care through adherence to professional standards and ethical practice, and to advocate freely for themselves and their patients."
The Nurses' Bill of Rights dictates:
Now, the Nurses' Bill of Rights is not a legal document. It is more of a guide that nurses and health care institutions can use to address workplace expectations and concerns. The Nurses' Bill of Rights is most effective when used in conjunction with the individual state's nurse practice acts and nursing regulations defining the laws related to nursing practice. It's a tool that can help set facility policy for universal topics such as needlestick injuries, workplace violence, and mandatory overtime among many subjects, and it's also a vehicle for dialogue between nursing staffs, management and administration that supports professional practice.
Most nurses will tell you they chose their profession because of a desire to "help others" or to "make a difference" in other's lives, their community or the world. This is a social contract, a commitment to serving society with professional rights and responsibilities. This is also a career choice with public accountability. The Nurses' Bill of Rights, while not a contract, is a mechanism for understanding and addressing the concerns of nurses in their practice environments. Its seven premises are recognized by nurses across the country as necessary for sound professional practice.