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A new Code of Conduct for New Zealand nurses

Media Release 6 September 2012

A new Code of Conduct for New Zealand nurses

A new Code of Conduct recently released by the Nursing Council gives explicit direction to nurses about the professional conduct that is expected of them. It also acts as a resource for the public providing information about what can be expected from a nurse.

Chief Executive Carolyn Reed says the Code has been published to replace an outdated Code, in line with the Council’s statutory role to protect the health and safety of the public by setting standards of clinical competence, ethical conduct and cultural competence for nurses. Ms Reed says the Code addresses the values and principles at the heart of competent nursing care.

“Most people assume a nurse has knowledge and skills – registration gives public assurance of that. But the Code, and an associated professional boundaries guideline, are what really communicate the expectation that nurses maintain a certain way of behaving and being with patients that is founded on sound professional values that build and maintain trust in the profession,” Ms Reed says.

The Code is framed around four core values of respect, trust, partnership and integrity and eight equally important principles. One of the key messages of the Code, and the guidelines which flesh out the advice in the standards of the Code, is that nurses must make the care of patients their first concern and to do this effectively they must maintain professional boundaries.

“It is important that the boundary between the professional and the personal, between friendliness and friendship is not blurred,” Ms Reed says. “These documents have been developed to increase awareness of the professional responsibility to maintain appropriate personal, sexual and financial boundaries in relationships with current and former patients and their families. “

The Code and guidelines give guidance on maintaining professional boundaries in face to face and electronic communications. The use of social media is included and nurses are reminded that they must maintain professional boundaries when using social media sites such as Facebook.

Over the next three years, all nurses will be required to complete professional development on professional boundaries and the code of conduct as part of their continuing competence requirements.

Copies of the two documents can be found on the Nursing Council website: http://www.nursingcouncil.org.nz/index.cfm/1,254,html/A-new-Code-of-Conduct-for-nurses.

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