The paper starts with the summary of an interview with Honorine, who is a registered infection control nurse. The interview identifies the significant roles and responsibilities of an infection control nurse and the set of skills required to have a successful career as an ICN. The second section of the essay describes the role of ICNs and my aspirations for pursuing a career in infection control. It then discusses the influence of provisions 5 and 8 of the ANA Code of Ethics in infection control practice and professional traits, including the duty to self and others, integrity, effective communication, and collaboration that I will bring a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals. The paper then analyzes how Environment Theory fits into infection control practice and the contribution of nursing theorist Florence Nightingale to infection control nurse practice. The essay then states instances where I have safeguarded the non-maleficence and beneficence ethical principle for patients. Finally, the summary of the paper is presented.
Interview with a Nurse
For the interview assignment, I interviewed Honorine, an infection control nurse working at Doctors Community. Honorine informed me about an infection control nurse’s primary roles and responsibilities and the critical set of skills required to have a successful career as an ICN. She asserted that the primary function of an infection control nurse is the identification, creation, and use of best practices for infection and sanitation. She identified that ICNs play a critical role in preventing the spread of bacterial and viral infections by working with other stakeholders such as public healthcare professionals. Your colleagues and others will expect your guidance in the control and elimination of infectious threats. She states that since it involves working with many professionals from various disciplines, collaboration and communications are essential to the practice of infection control. Moreover, she identified that a career in infection control is consistently stimulating and highly rewarding for people with adept, innovative, problem-solving, and quick-thinking skills.
Infection Control Nurse (INC)
An INC is a registered nurse who primarily deals with the best practices for stopping bacterial and viral spreads and delivery of top care to patients with infectious diseases. Usually, an infection control nurse works with other stakeholders such as public health experts, scientists, and government agencies to protect public and individual health. An infection control nurse’s roles include gathering and analysis of infection data, treatment of patients with infectious diseases, and development of outbreak action plans (Lotfinejad, Peters, & Pittet, 2020). Other roles include education of health professionals, implementation and enforcement of infection control practices, the study of pathogens, and assist physicians and scientists in developing treatments and vaccines.
One primary reason for my interest in working as an ICN is my passion for helping my colleagues and other members of society be safe. Moreover, with the increased number of widespread outbreaks such as COVID-19 and Ebola recently, I can minimize the damages of such infections. Working as an ICN will give me the opportunity of ensuring the safety of patients and colleagues in an institution of healthcare. Additionally, my skillsets, such as adept communication, problem-solving, and innovation skills, are essential for a successful ICN career.
Provisions from the ANA Code of Ethics
Provisions 5 and 8 of the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses will significantly influence the practice of an infection control nurse. Provision 5 asserts that a nurse should owe others the same duties they owe to themselves, such as promotion of safety and health, preservation of the integrity and character wholeness, competence maintenance, and continued professional and personal growth (American Nurses Association, 2015). The provision influences the practice of ICN by requiring infection control to ensure healthcare settings are safe for my colleagues and me. Provision 8 affects the practice of ICN by requiring infection control nurses to work in collaboration with other health professions in upholding health diplomacy, protecting human rights, and reducing health disparities (American Nurses Association, 2015).
A critical professional trait that I will bring to an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals is effective communication. As a detail-oriented and meticulous person, I can effectively communicate the best practices and crucial knowledge of dealing with an infectious disease to a multi-professional team. My collaboration skill is an asset, where through a collaborative effort with the healthcare professional to develop, implement, and enforce infection control measures. As a member of a multidisciplinary team, I will bring the duty to myself and others. I am passionate about promoting and preservation of health and safety not only to myself but also for my team members. Being a principled and honest person, I will bring my integrity to a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals by maintaining and promoting nursing values and principles.
An approach that Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory has significantly impacted my professional practice. The approach primarily focused on the environment, which was considered to be all external stimuli and settings that impact life and development of an organism. The environment can suppress, prevent, or contribute to disease and death (Medeiros, Enders, & Lira, 2015). An infection is viewed as the process of health restoration, and a nurse’s role is to ensure environmental balance. It conceives humans as a member of nature and the healthiness of the environment affects their natural immunity. The Environment Theory fundamentally perceives that a suitable setting is a key to a patient’s recovery.
The Environment Theory has perfectly fits the practice of infection control nurses. It is underlined by five environmental factors, including efficient drainage, fresh air, direct sunlight, sanitation, and pure water (Mawdsley, 2005). These elements are essential to ICN practice since they establish solid sanitary foundations for infection control, which is responsible for the safety and health of their colleagues, patients, and themselves. The Environment Theory by Florence Nightingale provides the primary ways to manage the spread of bacterial and viral diseases at healthcare facilities. It was influential in the development of universal and standard precautions of infection control, which are still used in the ICN profession. These guidelines help ICN to maintain robust sanitary practices and conditions to support patients’ well-being and attend to the safety and health of their colleagues and themselves.
Florence Nightingale has significantly contributed to the practice of infection control nurses, and her contribution can still be applied in the modern-day. A significant contribution was the methods she used in her work, which has acted as a foundation for training infection control nursing over the years, even in current programs. Her writings have influenced both infection control nursing education and professional practice (Gilbert, 2020). Moreover, Nightingale’s ideas still impact modern infection control nursing resulting in reflection on the professional activity, especially regarding the current environmental problems on the ecology and binomial health. The theoretical representativeness of Nightingale’s work is still relevant and continues to give guidelines to ICNs in present days. Nightingale identifies critical thinking as a nurse’s duty during care, which is characterized by numerous studies in the field. Also, Florence Nightingale outlines the factors to maintain a favorable environment, such as lighting and air, to facilitate the healing process of a patient (Medeiros, Enders, & Lira, 2015). From this viewpoint, the primary focus of a nurse is environmental hygiene, which is the crucial work of an infection control nurse. The tasks listed by Nightingale to help restore the health of the sick have been applied for years, and they underline the roles and responsibilities of ICN even nowadays.
Safeguarding Ethical Principles
Non-maleficence, usually implying do no harm is an essential component of infection control nurse professionals and the ethical justification of infection control practices in a healthcare setting (Lulé, Kübler, & Ludolph, 2019). In my professional practice, I have safeguarded patients’ non-maleficence on various occasions. However, the most significant case involves a situation with a healthcare professional at the hospital. In this scenario, an attending physician wanted to enter the room of a patient recovering from infectious disease without performing hand hygiene or wearing proper protective equipment. Under the principle of duty to myself and others, I insisted on the physician wearing PPE and doing hand hygiene before entering the room.
As a nurse, it was my responsibility to safeguard the health and safety of the patients and other staff by preventing infection. Therefore, I understood that hand hygiene and the use of PPE are essential to practice to reduce the spread of diseases between healthcare professionals, patients, and the public. Moreover, it was public and professional knowledge that any physician or individual cannot enter a patient’s room with proper PPE and hand hygiene. However, by restricting the physician from seeing the patient, I might have been the patient’s health in danger. Considering that the patient has been recovering and not in need of urgent attention at the moment, I realized that allowing the healthcare professional will put the patient at an increased risk of reinfection. The physician’s hands, clothes, or both might have come into contact with the infectious agent at the hospital. Thus, I denied the physician access to the patient’s room without undergoing the proper procedure or wearing proper attire. By ensuring that the physician did not enter the patient’s, I safeguarded their non-maleficence by reducing the risk of reinfection when his immunity is just recovering.
As an ethical principle, beneficence requires an individual to do a separate good act after preventing harm (Lulé, Kübler, & Ludolph, 2019). In my professional practice as a nurse, I safeguarded the principle of beneficence when I encountered a dysphasic patient with a risk of laryngotracheal aspiration. As a professional nurse, I have to ensure that the patient’s health is rehabilitated, promoted, and not worsen. Therefore, I should uphold the ethical principle of beneficence. In this situation, I proposed the implementation of an effective treatment for dysphagia. The treatment aimed at ensuring water and nutritional intake, nutritional recovery, and restriction of the oral route until the rehabilitation of swallowing using speech therapy means. In this case, I was able to safeguard beneficence to the patient.
The scope of infection control nurse with respect to the role requires continual collaboration with other stakeholders in the healthcare delivery sector. Since the position of an INC requires constant interaction with other stakeholders, a person aspiring to be an infection control nurse should possess skills such as collaboration and communication. The ANA Code of Ethics is a crucial document that provides guidelines of the practice of INC and identifies specific personal traits required in the INC profession. The environmental theory provides the framework for the prevention of infection spread through maintaining a hygienic environment. Florence Nightingale, who developed the Environment Theory through her works and writings, has contributed to the current infection control practice and education through developing specific guidelines. The interaction at the workplace should be guided by ethical principles, including non-maleficence and beneficence, in the prevention of the spread of bacterial and viral infections.
American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of ethics with interpretative statements. Silver Spring, MD: Author. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/CodeofEthicsforNurses/Code-ofEthics-For-Nurses.html
Gilbert, H. A. (2020). Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory and its influence on contemporary infection control. Collegian, 27(6), 626-633.
Lotfinejad, N., Peters, A., & Pittet, D. (2020). Hand hygiene and the novel coronavirus pandemic: the role of healthcare workers. The Journal of hospital infection.
Lulé, D., Kübler, A., & Ludolph, A. C. (2019). Ethical principles in patient-centered medical care to support quality of life in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Frontiers in neurology, 10, 259.
Mawdsley, S. (2005). Nursing theories and their relevance to contemporary infection control practice. British Journal of Infection Control, 6(3), 26-29.
Medeiros, A. B. D. A., Enders, B. C., & Lira, A. L. B. D. C. (2015). The Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory: a critical analysis. Escola Anna Nery, 19(3), 518-524.