Values and morals are similar in nature in that they both are inherent of an individual’s personal beliefs and convictions in matters of right and wrong. Morals are what define human behavior and conduct. Oftentimes morals are instilled early on through one’s faith or religious affiliation. They serve as guiding principles in how one should live and conduct his life. Morals also help to discern what an individual believes is right or wrong based on what he has been conditioned to believe. For example, stealing from another is considered wrong. From a moral perspective, taking something that does not belong to you is wrong. Another example, is being honest is right. Honesty is always the best policy even when the truth hurts. Being honest is a sign of good moral character in a person.
The other characteristic that molds and shapes an individual are values. According to Nystrom (1990), “Values have been defined as normative beliefs about proper standards of conduct and preferred or desired results” (p. 971). They are very similar to morals in their definition. The primary tenets of values rest in what an individual holds to be true and correct or something that an individual places much stake in. For example, an individual may value a particular brand of food because he believes it is far better and superior to all other brands. He may feel this way because he has tried other brands or it may be because of any other number of reasons that have steered him towards a resolute decision.
Healthcare providers should always strive for values and morals when providing care to patients. Their personal convictions about administering care and how it will be considered is indicative of what they deem to be important and ethical. This is the way it should be but that is not always the case. There have been many instances of misconduct and malpractice in the healthcare industry which is the result of one’s values and morals being compromised for personal gain or other ulterior motives that are self-serving and without consideration for patients’ health and well-being. When a patient’s well-being or life is placed at the mercy of healthcare professionals, they are entrusting doctors, nurses, and even administrators with making correct decisions for optimal outcomes. One wrong code placed on a medical diagnosis can be the difference between whether a procedure is approved by insurance or not. The healthcare industry has a great responsibility to be transparent and honest in its dealing with patients. To do otherwise is a travesty and everyone loses in the end.
- Nystrom, P. C.. (1990). Differences in Moral Values between Corporations. Journal of Business Ethics, 9(12), 971–979.