To reinforce and support the 2001 American Nurses Association’s Bill of Rights for Registered Nurses (hereafter known as the Bill).
It is the position of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) that the rights specified by the American Nurses Association (ANA) are afforded to all nurses to ensure their self-respect and self-determination. As a statement of professional rights, the Bill offers nurses an additional tool for support in navigating workplace issues (ANA, 2011).
In order to exercise these rights, registered nurses must understand and embrace their professional responsibilities including but not limited to
ANA’s Bill of Rights for Registered Nurses (2001) was built on the premise that the more knowledge registered nurses have about their own rights and how they can be utilized, the more effective they will be at advocating for patients’ rights. It is important to recognize that there is no single or easy answer to the complex professional issues associated with nurses’ rights. Each professional nurse, when confronted with an untenable practice situation, is required to exercise all available resources in resolving the situation. Even after all alternatives have been pursued, the professional nurse may find that a difficult and risky alternative is the only option. While this may leave the nurse in an uncomfortable situation, it must be recognized that the professional nurses’ right to exercise options and to make decisions is critical. The process of exercising rights impacts on the registered nurse, the patient, the employer, the profession, and ultimately, society (Wiseman, 2001). In 2009, ANA released additional guidance regarding nurse’s rights regarding considering an unsafe assignment. They suggested that nurses: (a) are obligated to raise concerns about a patient assignment which may place either the patient or the nurse at risk, (b) know and utilize the process for filing a concern, (c) involve themselves in development of a process if one does not exist, and (d) ensure the upkeep of current competencies required for the patient population routinely cared for (ANA, 2009).
The Institute of Medicine (2010) reinforced the need for nurses to (a) practice to the fullest extent of their professional education, (b) attain higher levels of competency and education (as supported through lifelong learning), (c) collaborate within the profession to ensure accountability for quality healthcare, and (d) hold leadership positions within all areas involved in healthcare decisions and care practices. These recommendations support nurse’s rights and responsibilities in transforming healthcare to meet the obligations of caring for patients in a safe and ethical manner (Fowler, 2010).
To fulfill these expectations, registered nurses must
Note: The use of the term “patient” anywhere in this document is intended to be generic and refers to the recipient of nursing care.
Approved by the NYSNA Board of Directors on September 16, 1988; September 17, 1997; August 30, 2005; and November 16, 2011. Reviewed and revised by the Expanded Council on Nursing Practice on July 22, 2005; Council on Nursing Practice August 19, 2011.
American Nurses Association. (2001). Bill of rights for registered nurses. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ThePracticeofProfessionalNursing/ workforce/Work-Environment/NursesBillofRights.aspx
American Nurses Association. (2009). Patient safety: Rights of registered nurses when considering a patient assignment. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/rnrightsps
American Nurses Association. (2011). Bill of rights frequently asked questions (FAQs). Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ThePracticeofProfessionalNursing/ workplace/Work-Environment/NursesBillofRights/FAQs.aspx
Fowler, M.D.M. (Ed.). (2010). Guide to the code of ethics for nurses: Interpretation and application. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.
Institute of Medicine. (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. [Report Recommendations]. Retrieved from http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2010/The-Future-of- Nursing/Future%20of%20Nursing%202010%20Recommendations.pdf
New York State Penal Law. (2010). Title H, Article 120, Assault and related offenses, §120.05, Assault in the second degree.
Wiseman, R. (2001). The ANA develops bill of rights for registered nurses: Know your rights in the workplace. American Journal of Nursing, 101(11), 55-57.
For more information on nursing practice, contact NYSNA's Education, Practice and Research Program at 518.782.9400, ext. 282 or by e-mail.