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Nurs Leadersh (Tor Ont). 2010 Sep;23(3):46-55.

Conscientious objection: a call to nursing leadership.

Author information

RN, BScN, Graduate Student, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.
RN, PhD, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.
RN, PhD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.


In this paper we argue that nurse leaders need to work actively to create morally supportive environments for nurses in Canada that provide adequate room to exercise conscientious objection. Morally supportive environments engender a safe atmosphere to engage in open dialogue and action regarding conflict of conscience. The CNA's 2008 Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses has recognized the importance of conscientious objection in nursing and has created key guidelines for the registered nurse to follow when a conflict in conscience is being considered or declared. Nurse leaders need to further develop the understanding of conflicts of conscience through education, well-written guidelines for conscientious objection in workplaces and engagement in research to uncover underlying barriers to the enactment of conscientious objections. With advancements in technology, changing healthcare policies and increasing scope of practice, both reflection and dialogue on conscientious objection are critical for the continuing moral development of nurses in Canada.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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