Moral Dilemma in Nursing Practice

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Nursing acts as one of the most important aspect in our daily lives. In particular, nurses are most trusted healthcare professional as they engage with patients all through the continuum of life. In various cases, circumstances arises in nursing practice that necessitates application of nursing competencies such as as cultural differences. For one to be an effective nurse-leader, it is vital to employ various nursing competencies. Having a clear understanding of moral developmental theories us one of the most important competency. Moral development is clearly elucidated by both Kohlberg and Gillin Theories, which proposes that there are three levels of moral development. They include pre-conventional, conventional, and post-convennioanal levels. The three levels can help in resolving various quandaries experienced in mandatory reporting. In this regard, the following essay stipulates ways on how a nurse responds to the dilemma of mandatory reporting to a child protection agency at every level of Kohlberg and Gillin theories.

A nurse can respond to quandaries of mandatory reporting to a children protection agency by analyzing the concepts of moral dilemma as well as moral reasoning and how a child develops morality. In most cases, the aspect of cultural diversity can be the real cause of the quandary where one practice may be accepted in one culture but unacceptable to another. However, using Kohlberg and Gillin theories of moral development, a nurse is supposed to apply the three levels to the moral development of a child at various cognitive development and age in order to respod to the dilemma. The first level of the theories is referred to as the pre-conventional level. A nurse can use this level to respond to the dilemma of mandatory reporting since it highlights that childen are not interested insecuring their own benefits, which is one of the main idea of morality. In particular, the level pinpoints that children begin by circumventing punishment and quicly learning that they can secure other benefits by pleasing others. Simply, a nurse can respond to the dilemma of mandatory reporting by at level 1 by understanding both obedience and  punishment orientation among the children who are upto age of 9.

The second level is referred to as the conventional level. At tconventional level, children learn about rules and authority. In particular, based on a certain culture, children are able to learn that there are conventions, which govern how they should behave at the same time learning to obey them. Thus, in this level, a nurse can respond to the dilemma of mandatory reporting by understanding the interpersonal consensus and conformity as well as authority and social order upholding orientation. This involves employing the use of cultural diversity in order to have a clear understanding. The third level is referred to as post conventional level where a child learns the difference between what is right and what is wrong. This means that a child is able to maintain what is considered moral by a society. Therefore, a nurse can respond to the dilemma of mandatory reporting to a child protection in this level by encapsulating social contraction orientation and universal ethical principles. In this perspective, understanding the levels of moral development as stipulated by Kohlberg and Gillin theories are vital to a nurse responding to the quandary of mandatory reporting.


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Garz, D. (2009). Lawrence Kohlberg: An introduction. Opladen: Barbara Budrich Pub.

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October 13, 2023

Child Development

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