The piece linked below is by Pamela Cipriano, president of the American Nurses Association. It’s about the US Navy’s decision not to punish nurses who refused to force-feed prisoners at Guantanamo Bay
…The decision reflects the Navy’s recognition of the right of nurses to make independent, professional judgments and to object to participating in treatment they find unethical, without facing retaliation. The decision also recognized that — first and foremost — the nurse’s duty is to the well-being of the patient, regardless of who employs them or where they’re caring for someone….
The tension reflected in this case — that of duty to patient vs duty to employer — is one that is common in all licensed professions. Should the engineer employed by a construction company to help design a bridge draw up plans that specify cheap materials, or materials that will be structurally sound? Should the accountant employed by an industrial corporation keep the books the way the boss says, or the way her professional standards require? In most cases, the answer is pretty clear. But these kinds of cases (and comparisons) still warrant discussion, not least because of the incredible moral stress they frequently imply for individual professionals.