Critical Reflection: Disparate Behavior Between Dedicated Healthcare Providers And Business by Stacy Blythe RN PhD.
This is an article by Dr Stacy Blythe RN PhD, Senior Lecturer, Director of Engagement, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; written as a class project for a Masters Business class. I think it demonstrates the quandary between those who feel that healthcare needs to be run as a business focusing on profit and those who feel that healthcare is a community resource requiring business practices but with the a focus on patient outcome and quality of life. (Incidentally, Stacy is my daughter----Gary Grist RN CCP Emeritus).
Critical reflection bridges the gap between theory and practice. This paper will provide reflection on my own experience as a Registered Nurse undertaking a Master of Business Administration (MBA). In particular, I will reflect on what I considered to be disparate understanding and practice of ethical behavior between dedicated healthcare providers and business professions.
As a Registered Nurse, I am held to a number of professional standards which dictate my professional behavior (International Council of Nurses, 2012, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2018). These standards stipulate authenticity, transparency and open disclosure. When nursing colleagues do not comply with these directives, I am obligated to challenge, and if need be, report their conduct to governing bodies. I have worked comfortably within these boundaries as a nurse clinician, educator and researcher for many years.
Early in my research career it became apparent to me that not all people are concerned about the health and welfare of others. Therefore, I commenced the MBA in 2018 with a view to using the business knowledge to elicit philanthropic funds from industry to support my research. I determined I would be more successful in gaining funding if I could present a business case, rather than a research proposal. It was hoped that the MBA would enable me to speak in a language potential donors understand (business), and detail the benefits they would reap as a result of their philanthropic investment.
Since commencing my studies, I have been repeatedly offended by what I consider to be a lack of ethics. Concepts such as the Triple Bottom Line (Elkington, 2004) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)(Rangan et al., 2015) may be an attempt to guide ethical business behaviour. However, many companies CSR portfolios are superficial and tokenistic. Such portfolios attempt to satisfy current customer expectations (and therefore increase sales), and are not genuine strategies to better the community. This obvious contradiction could be deemed an ulterior motive and causes me significant unrest.
Reflection on my own good-intentions, however, reveals a similar contradiction. My pursuit of business knowledge is driven by my desire to generate research funds. Learning the language of business, and wielding this to articulate and emphasize the benefits of donating could be construed as manipulative, and self-serving. This is the same criticism I have of current CSR practices.
Genuine reflection often causes discomfort (Cottrell, 2017), which facilitates new understanding and growth. Reflecting on my own ethical values and practice, while critiquing those around me reveals more similarities than not. The question remains, what will I do with this new understanding? Am I to label myself unethical or rationalize my behavior as being for the greater good? Or will I lessen my judgement of those around me (thereby lessening judgement of myself)? I continue to consider these questions.
Dr Stacy Blythe RN PhD, Senior Lecturer, Director Engagement, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.