Do You Have a Personal Code of Ethics? Essay

Julene Brown. Journal of Health Care Compliance. Frederick: Jul/Aug 2007. Vol. 9, Iss. 4; pg. 41, 3 pgs Abstract (Summary) The author used Kohlberg’s development stages to analyze the personal code of ethics she had already established. In the compliance work that she does, there is definite insight that legal and moral points of view conflict. She does have a professional code of ethics. It applies to her job in its entirety. In the code there is an obligation to the public, the organization for which she works, and the profession.

Her professional code and personal code do not differ; rather, the ethics of her workplace and her personal ethics support each other. Sometimes the culture bothers her and needs some work. In her professional life, she tends to use the utilitarianism philosophy. In her work, she looks at the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Her values hierarchy consists of the following: to influence others through trust, kindness, and sharing lessons learned. She will accomplish this by being a good listener, being disciplined, being focused, and being responsible. Jump to indexing (document details) Full Text (1243 words) Copyright Aspen Publishers, Inc. Jul/Aug 2007 [Headnote] One Possible Approach to Developing a Code Is Using Kohlberg’s Development Stages Do you have a personal code of ethics? I never really thought about it until a few years ago, and then I really thought about it when I took a class for my master’s education. In our ethics class, we had to write our personal code of ethics if we did not have one already. This was very timely. It seems very appropriate (if not mandatory) as a compliance professional to have a personal code of ethics.

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I will share what elements were brought to my attention that are important to include in a personal code of ethics. KOHLBERG’S DEVELOPMENT I used Kohlberg’s development stages to analyze the personal code of ethics I had already established. In the compliance work that I do, there is definite insight that legal and moral points of view conflict. I understand that. In understanding this, I can see that I have taken it and applied it to my personal life also. I find myself struggling with whether an issue is legal or moral, and often I see both sides of an issue.

For example, if someone does something wrong, according to the law he or she should be punished, but how severe should that punishment be if the person has been a good, upright citizen since that time and committed no more crimes? As a result, legal and ethical issues collide. NEEDS My first needs are existence needs – food, clothing, shelter, and work. Those are satisfied, so I move on. At this point in my life, I do not look at relatedness needs as a big factor in my life; growth needs seem to be motivating me the most. The following are growth needs that I see at work in my life.

Once my children were old enough to be in school, I went from part-time nursing to full-time nursing. After a few years, I changed jobs from patient care nursing to working for an insurance company as a nurse preauthorizing hospital stays and surgical procedures. I worked into a supervisor position. I then changed jobs after three years into a nursing position that took me into the physician world of billing, charging, and documentation to support the services provided. After three years, I became the manager of the department.

In another few years, the department was reorganized, and I became manager of a newly formed department working with compliance in the area of billing for the entire organization. I have become very involved in the professional organization of health care compliance. I went back to school 10 years ago and was in school part-time for eight years to complete a master’s degree. Growth needs definitely have been my motivator. POWER IN WORK GROUP I use several of the types of power. I use reward power when I am able to give my staff a raise. I am offering them something that they desire.

At times I use legitimate power to make decisions that my staff follows, but generally I use referent power to make decisions. I frequently discuss issues with my staff to get their opinion and advice. I have some expert power because I am among the workers who have been in the department the longest, I have education that some of the staff members do not have, and I am very active in my professional life. FORMAL AND INFORMAL GROUPS I am a part of many formal groups at work. I chair several committees and belong to many other formal organization committees.

I am also a part of formal groups outside of work that pertain to my profession – one at a local level and one at a national level. I am also a part of some informal groups. My staff and I go to lunch for birthdays and have outings to do fun things as a group. I sometimes find myself in conflict with my staff group norms. I try to keep them up to date on all issues but sometimes cannot divulge certain information. I also try to conform to some of the more formal group norms in the formal groups of which I am a part, but I try to be ethical in all that I do. PROFESSIONAL CODE OF ETHICS

I do have a professional code of ethics. It applies to my job in its entirety. In the code there is an obligation to the public, the organization for which I work, and the profession. My professional code and personal code do not differ; rather, the ethics of my workplace and my personal ethics support each other. Sometimes the culture bothers me and needs some work. I make decisions similarly in my work life and my personal life. At work I make decisions with the assistance of my staff and others in the organization based on what is best for the organization.

At home I make decisions with my husband based on what is best for us and our family. PHILOSOPHICAL THEORY In my professional life, I tend to use the utilitarianism philosophy. In my work, I look at the greatest good for the greatest number of people. There are times when I see myself using the rule utilitarian philosophy and times when I examine situations on a caseby-case basis. I also see myself using the justice model, which emphasizes fair treatment and due rewards that follow legal standards. In my personal life, I tend toward egoism because I look more to some of my self interests, such as health and well being.

I also use some relativist traits when family issues, such as health, come into the picture. POSITION I support informed consent in health care. Patients have a right to know what a procedure is about and be informed of the risks and alternatives. Confidentiality and privacy also are important, in both my profes- sional and personal life, in health and other matters, such as banking, Internet use, et cetera. However, at some point, privacy and confidentiality must give way to other compelling interests. For example, the Internet should not be used for illegal activities, and Internet use should be monitored to prevent such activities.

The rules and regulations that have been established for privacy and confidentiality need to be followed to protect individuals’ rights. Influence on Ethics My ethical code has been influenced by my life experiences, my family, my coworkers, my religion and faith, and, to a lesser degree, leaders or mentors that I have admired. Values Hierarchy My values hierarchy consists of the following: to influence others through trust, kindness, and sharing lessons learned. I will accomplish this by being a good listener, being disciplined, being focused, and being responsible. I want to be remembered for being honest, ethical, and family oriented.

The most important things in my life are my faith, my family, and my career. I can contribute to the world by leaving a legacy to my family, co-workers, and profession. These are some of the things I use to assess my personal code of ethics. I am hoping my example can assist you, the reader, in making your personal code of ethics work and be meaningful for you. [Author Affiliation] Julene Brown, RN, MSN, CHC, CPC, has worked in health care for 20 plus years and in compliance for five years. Her current position is billing compliance manager at MeritCare Health System in Fargo, North Dakota. She can be reached atJulene. [email protected] com.

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