Legal and ethical considerations for Missouri nurses

Before the 1900s, just about anyone – from a professionally-trained doctor to an occasional snake oil salesman – could hang out a shingle and practice medicine. After the turn of the century, state governments stepped into the fray to protect the citizenry from medical charlatans by setting up licensing boards and establishing codes of conduct, including legal and ethical standards.

Within the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services framework, officials have defined the duties and responsibilities of the nursing profession in its Nursing Practice Act. The agency also states that it is the legal and ethical responsibility of nurses to remain current and up to date on this act as healthcare systems change to meet the constantly-evolving state of medical care and the technology that supports it.

A nurse can always attempt to be current on these legal and ethical standards by re-reading the act or perusing articles on the Internet, but it is highly recommended that nurses avail themselves of accelerated nursing programs in Missouri. Excellent online programs are available to choose from in this arena, some of which are available for online study. The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program offered by Rockhurst University, for example, is fully accredited, completely online, and can prepare you for becoming a nurse in just sixteen months. From your enrollment until even after your graduation, university staff will provide support at every step, including complimentary clinical placement services. The program also includes a hands-on period of residency for ten days of simulated lab instruction in a healthcare setting.

If you are currently a nurse and want to update your skill sets, or if you’re an individual who wants to pursue a career in nursing, these online nursing programs offer an excellent path for acquiring the latest training in the profession. You may proceed at your own pace and find complimentary support services that will ensure your success. Is now the time to invest in your future?

How did ethical standards for the nursing profession originate?

As the medical profession has evolved, so, too, has the nursing community of professionals. Healthcare never stands still. Societal changes, advances in technology, and improvements in education and research have helped to expand the roles and responsibilities of nurses in today’s modern world. Nurses are now considered an important contributor within a team of medical professionals and an advocate of the patient’s wellbeing.

In order to evolve with these changes and to provide a guide for nurses to take the high moral ground, the American Nursing Association (ANA) developed its first formal Code of Ethics in the 1950s. State governments have followed suit by incorporating these standards in their various registration and licensing requirements for anyone choosing to serve in the nursing profession.

What are the key principles in any code of ethics?

The ANA ethical code actually has nine provisions, but the significance of these provisions in a clinical setting can be summarized in four categories. Nurses may frequently encounter situations which can cause a conflict between code principles and one’s personal perspective, but the nurse must find a balance to deliver effective care for their patients.

The first issue relates to the patient’s autonomy. A patient has the right to refuse a course of treatment, even when the nurse or other healthcare professional believes that it is best. Nurses must respect the patient’s right to choose. A common conflict today is whether to take prescription drugs or rely upon an herbal substitute as an alternative. Potential side effects may govern the decision, but much has been written about this subject matter.

Nurses must display genuine kindness and generosity for their patients – qualities that are defined as “beneficence” in various law codes. From a nursing perspective, it simply means promoting a patient’s best interests, regardless of any personal biases. Comforting a dying patient or assisting their performance of simple tasks are two examples.

The third issue is one of justice. All patients deserve to be treated on a fair and equal basis without regard for social standing or financial capabilities. Lastly, a nurse must commit to doing no harm to their patients. Ethical standards use the term “non-maleficence” when describing this issue, which can be challenging when a patient chooses to forego life support or drugs that could save their lives.

Nurses have a professional obligation to understand the Code of Ethics adopted in their respective states and to maintain ethical integrity in their day-to-day actions. Today, healthcare organizations typically have an ethics board in place to review and help guide their staff when confronted with ethical dilemmas. Online nursing programs will include a focus on these principles in their curriculum as well.

What are job and salary trends in the nursing profession?

Even after a minor drop in demand for nurses following the Covid pandemic recovery, the forecast over the next ten years for registered nurses is for demand to grow at six percent per year through 2032 – a rate that is greater than the overall average for any other occupation. During this period, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects that openings will nearly reach 200,000 each year.

Compensation trends can vary by education degree, geographical location, experience, and technical expertise, but the median annual salary level for registered nurses in 2022 was $81,200. Nurses with advanced degrees can easily earn in the six-figure range. Compensation trends for both generalists and specialists are also expected to grow accordingly on an average basis going forward.


Nurses are confronted by a host of challenges on a daily basis in today’s world of modern healthcare, but state governments have published detailed ethical standards to guide nurses when they encounter situations that test their moral character. Nurses can stay abreast of these principles most appropriately by taking online nursing programs from accredited providers.

The best programs available will prepare you to excel in today’s exciting and complex healthcare system. Growth and salary levels are forecasted to grow faster than overall national averages. Is now the right time to consider investing in your future with a degree in the exciting field of nursing?

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