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Nurses are responsible for caring for patients during birth, death, illness, and healing. Professional values guide the decisions and actions that nurses make in their careers. If nurses know the decisions and actions to take, providing patients with exceptional care is possible.

The values that are the foundation of the nursing profession are altruism, autonomy, human dignity, and social justice.

First, altruism refers to the concern for the welfare and well-being of others without personal gains or rewards. An altruistic nurse is someone caring, compassionate, and generous. A nurse makes choices with the interest of their patients in mind. Being the patient's advocate is one way a nurse exemplifies this value. Examples include making sure the patient is well informed about their treatment plan, ensuring patient safety, and providing the best care.

Second, autonomy is a vital component of professional nursing. It is the freedom for a nurse to make independent decisions within one's scope of practice when caring for patients. For example, the nurse instructs the post-operative patient to perform deep breathing exercises to facilitate lung expansion and provides patient teaching specific to the client's needs.

Third, human dignity includes personal qualities, which are more inclined to respect, being kind to patients, and other personalities. It also includes being open to any ideas that help improve patient care services. Nurses maintain confidentiality and privacy while providing culturally competent and sensitive care to show dignity and respect to the patient.

Fourth, integrity consists of soundness and adherence to moral principles. Nurses who practice with integrity act in ways consistent with what they see as the right thing to do and also conform to accepted standards of practice. For instance, a nurse with integrity provides ethical care, gives unbiased information to patients, families, and staff, and documents appropriately.

Lastly, the social justice concept upholds moral, legal, and humanistic principles, such as equal distribution and allocation of health care services and resources to patients regardless of age, gender, nationality, and social status.

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