Regulation Matters 2019 - Issue 2

What It Means to Be Ethical

This fall the College's practice advisors are presenting our workshop based on the new Code of Ethics. The new Code is likely both familiar and unfamiliar to you. On the one hand, ethical expectations haven’t changed much over time – do good things and don’t do bad things – and the new Code of Ethics reflects that. On the other hand, ethics is a concept that evolves over time, based on current societal expectations, developments in research and scholarship, and trends in health profession regulation.

We are excited about this topic because we think engaging with each other about the difficult situations we face doesn’t just make us better at what we do, it contributes to our shared understanding that ethics should be top-of-mind and embedded in our professional life, day-to-day. This topic is particularly timely as there has been heightened scrutiny locally, nationally and globally about the role of ethics in behaviour and decision-making.

This increased interest in ethics reminds us that, in dietetic care, we often can’t separate our actions from ethical considerations; what we do (and don’t do) has meaning and impact extending beyond ourselves. Our actions involve ethical elements that are only now being explored in healthcare. One example is the decreasing comfort we can take from relying on “I didn’t mean to hurt you” to avoid acknowledging that the impact of our decisions on others can be more critical than what we intended.

We developed the new Code of Ethics to better incorporate some of these principles. But being ethical does not just mean that we memorize a list of rules or do what someone else tells us to do, as much as we may trust and respect that person. Now, more than ever, being ethical means being more deliberate, more purposeful and more open to the participation of others in our decision-making. And, perhaps above all, graciously acknowledging that being ethical, and living by that, is always a work in progress.

Access the new Code of Ethics here.