By Sharrie Williams, for CBS News 4 Miami: Nurses Head To Haiti On Teaching Mission
In September two Jackson Memorial Hospital nurses with more than three decades of experience between them took that knowledge and compassion to Port-au-Prince.
They volunteered to help Haitian nurses in the aftermath of January’s devastating earthquake and now, the two are going back again to try and help the crippled Haitian medical community….
Of course, this is just a local news story, and there’s not much that’s unique about it. Many, many nurses have participated in humanitarian efforts in Haiti and other places. I’m posting this story just to make a brief point about role models, and the value of examples. Very often — regrettably often — the word “ethics” comes up in contexts where someone has done something bad. A scandal of some sort arises, or someone is accused of violating their Code of Ethics. But ethics, of course, is about far more than that. Ethics isn’t just about avoiding wrongdoing. It’s also about doing good things.
To most members of the public, getting on a plane to go and help in Haiti must seem utterly heroic. And, to be sure, the nurses in the story quoted above deserve praise — what they’re doing is truly wonderful. But it’s also worth remembering that, within the nursing profession, the line that most of the public sees between “just doing your job” and going “above and beyond” gets blurred. Nursing, as a profession, calls upon its members to go “above and beyond” on a daily basis. That’s part of the ethics of being a nurse. But of course, there are limits. Even nurses are only human. There’s only so much anyone can do, only so much anyone can give. I think one of the core ethical challenges for the nursing profession is, on an ongoing basis, to think about just where the profession itself will draw the line between what it considers “above and beyond,” and what it considers just everyday heroism.