NURS 6710 Week 4: Public Health Laws and Ethics

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NURS 6710 Week 4: Public Health Laws and Ethics essay assignment

NURS 6710: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice | Week 4 essay assignment


Ethics is at the core of everyday life. Ethical beliefs shape the way we live—what we do and the world we create through our choices. Being ethical is part of what defines us as human beings. Complex ethical problems can be individual and private or widespread and systemic, involving groups, organizations, or whole communities. Ethical principles provide a framework upon which we can address ethical problems, including those involved in protecting the public’s health.

NURS 6710 Week 4: Public Health Laws and Ethics essay assignment

Public health nursing practice is directly impacted by government, law, and policy. Historical policies and laws have shaped the current public health system. In turn, public health professionals work to shape future law and policy with the populations they serve in mind.

This week, you will explore the influence law and policy has on the public health nursing profession and the ethical principles upheld in public health nurses’ daily work with diverse populations in various contexts.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze diverse perspectives on public health issues
  • Analyze ethical and legal issues related to public health issues
  • Analyze unintended consequences related to a public health interventions
  • Analyze public health nurses’ roles in advocating for the health of populations

One important ethical principle is the concept of “autonomy” or an individualistic approach. This principle places primary emphasis on the liberty, privacy, and informed consent of individual persons in the face of a health intervention carried out by other parties, such as immunizations to prevent infectious disease. These are public health interventions carried out with the justification of “doing good” by protecting the welfare of the public. These interventions are grounded in the ethical belief of actions being informed by determination of the greater good for the benefit of the larger society—the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Note: You will be assigned to one side of the debate for this week.

By Day 3

Post and participate in a debate via the Discussion threads.

Debate the topic: Is a family’s choice to not vaccinate/immunize their child a threat to the public’s health or is it an individual right? As a public health nurse, what are the key ethical and legal issues that contribute to the issue of vaccinations and immunizations?

By Day 6

Respond to one or more of your colleagues assigned to the other side of the debate with your opposing arguments.

Assignment: Unintended Consequences essay assignment

There are unintended consequences to almost everything we do. Laws and policies established for the greater good can have unbearable unintended consequences. As we examine public health laws and policies intended to protect the public, it is important to look downstream to anticipate these unintended consequences.

In 1990, the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, which provides states with funds for AIDS treatment and care, required every state to certify that its criminal laws were adequate to prosecute any HIV-infected individual who knowingly exposed another person to HIV. At least 35 states have criminal laws that punish HIV-positive people for exposing others to the virus, even if they take precautions such as using a condom. Supporters of these laws say they deter people from spreading the virus and set a standard for disclosure and precautions in an ongoing epidemic. But critics say they thwart public health goals because they stigmatize the disease; undermine trust in health officials, who are sometimes enlisted to assist with criminal prosecutions; and fail to take into account the latest science surrounding HIV transmission. In addition, these laws can also prevent individuals from being tested for HIV—if a person doesn’t know their HIV status then they don’t risk prosecution if they fail to reveal their status to a sexual partner. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 92 percent of new HIV infections occur from people who do not know their HIV status. Therefore, public health laws designed to protect have the potential to also do harm. This is an important advocacy role for public health nurses as they strive to uphold the ethical principles governing public health.

To Prepare:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Consider the example of unintended consequences and the impact on the public’s health.

Note: For this Assignment, you will use the topic of interest you chose for your Discussion in Week 1. If the topic does not align with the expectations of this Assignment, please consult with your Instructor to identify another issue.

The Assignment:

Write a 2- to 3-page paper that addresses the following:

  • Explain the potential unintended consequences of interventions used to address the public health issue you selected in Week 1.
  • Explain the role of the public health nurse in advocating for this population.

By Day 7

Submit your Assignment.


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