Morality VS Ethics

Author: Mia Struwig – 3353309


There is a constant discrepancy and conflict between moral values and ethical practice in the health service industry/profession. Before discussing the topic any further, it is important to understand the difference between Ethics and Morals. Here is a video that explains these terms:

On my current clinical rotation, I am expected to work in a ward called ‘Gangster Paradise’. Upon hearing this name, I had a pre-set idea of what it would be like and the types of patients I would find there.

I am currently treating a patient that was arrested for attempted murder and has two police men outside his room at all hours of the day and night. I initially thought (prior to this block) that I would not be able to treat a patient that has a criminal record in the same way I would any other patient due to my moral values, upbringing and beliefs and the fact that I believe strongly in always doing everything within the law and in an appropriate/acceptable manner. This comes down to integrity and sincerity. According to Lachman, Sekerka and Bagozzi (2007), moral courage is an esteemed trait displayed by individuals who despite adversity and personal risk, decide to act upon their ethical values to help others during ethical challenges. I would like to consider myself as an individual that strives to do the right thing even when others choose a less ethical behaviour.

However, when I first introduced myself and met the patient for the first time, thoughts about integrity and sincerity were nowhere to be found. I went inside the room, greeted the police men, and got on with what I was supposed to do. At no point did I feel that I was struggling to treat the patient as he was a prisoner.

As morality is constantly played up against ethical principles, the thought about how other therapists would feel about the patient came to mind after having a discussion about a similar topic with a colleague earlier that day. Most people would struggle to be ethical in a situation like this due to their moral beliefs. I, however, struggle with the opposite.

Ethically, we are expected to treat all patients the same regardless of other factors. I find this particularly easy which stirs worry in me. It raises the question, “Are my moral values not appropriate because I feel different about the situation than others?” In addition to that, Kidder (2005) states that the ultimate goal of morally courageous behaviour is to put ethical principles into action and protect ethical values perceived to be at risk, even in situations where the individual has inner conflict between moral and ethical values. However, even though I consider myself a morally courageous individual, I do not experience this inner conflict between moral and ethical values.

I struggle with concept that I might now begin to treat patients as just another folder number instead of a human being as these external factors do not influence the way I feel about treating a particular patient. Does this make me cold? Does this make me less of a physiotherapist? Does this mean I lack empathy and/or sympathy?

The moral concept relates to integrity, sincerity, empathy and sympathy, etc, while the ethical concept is to treat all patients the same and provide the patient with the necessary and needed medical care and attention.

According to society, one is expected to struggle to treat such a patient ethically due to your moral code. In this particular situation, I feel I do not conform as I struggle with the morality side. However, according to Aultman (2008), there are several articles in today’s healthcare literature exploring and addressing the lack of moral courage in healthcare professionals when faced with ethical challenges. This was particularly interesting for me to learn as I thought I was in the minority with regards to how I felt about morals when faced with an ethical challenge.

On the other hand, how do others feel about this? How do the therapists that do feel this inner conflict deal with it? Day (2007) states that demonstrating moral courage in an ethically challenging situation is critical to good professional practice. According to Mitton (2010), a big portion (more than 50%) of healthcare professionals feel morally distressed in ethical situations that do not align with their morals or beliefs. They feel as if they are placed under pressure and experience a big amount of guilt when faced with certain ethical challenges requiring them to behave in a certain manner, but their moral values say otherwise. In certain occasions they feel prevented from carrying out proper ethical action due to their moral values.

In the end, which is more important? Ethical behaviour? Or moral values? In my opinion, there should rather be a balance between the two. In certain situations the one will be preferred over the other as per professional requirements, however, we are all only human and do have our own personal challenges.


 Aultman, J. (2008). Moral courage through a collective voice. The American Journal of Bioethics, 8(4), 67

– 69.

Ajmera, S. (2015). Ethics vs Morals: Difference between ethics and morals. Retrieved November 1st, 2016 from

Day, L. (2007). Courage as a virtue necessary to good nursing practice. American Journal of Critical Care, 16(6), 613 – 616.

Kidder, R.M. (2005). Moral courage. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers.

Lachman, V. (2007a). Moral courage: A virtue in need of development? MEDSURG Nursing, 16(2), 131 – 133.

Mitton, C., Peacock, S., Storch, J., Smith, N., & Cornelissen, E. (2010). Moral Distress among Healthcare Managers: Conditions, Consequences and Potential Responses. hcpol6(3), 99-112.

Murray, J.S., (Sept 30, 2010) “Moral Courage in Healthcare: Acting Ethically Even in the Presence of Risk” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 15, No. 3, Manuscript 2.

Sekerka, L.E., & Bagozzi, R.P. (2007). Moral courage in the workplace: Moving to and from the desire and decision to act. Business Ethics, 16(2), 132 – 148.


4 Replies to “Morality VS Ethics”

  1. Hi Mia,

    I hope you are well. I enjoyed reading your blog post as it was very relatable to my clinical experiences with gangster patients. In the future, I suggest for you to try not to think of the patient’s past and just treat the patient like any other patient. We should treat all our patients equally without discrimination. Some patients may appear to be very dangerous although they might not at all harm you as the physiotherapist. We, as physiotherapists, need to understand that these patients need our help and most importantly they understand that we want to help them. Occasionally, I am sure some of these patients may be disrespectful and rude but it is always important to take the most professional and viable routes to handle these patients.

    More on what you can improve on:

    Content: Good. Your information was concise about the topic. You can improve this post by researching more what literature says about the treatment given by physiotherapists to patients from a variety of backgrounds. You are lacking a few concepts that are presented in the topic e.g. What is the relationship between belief and behaviour? What is the relationship between your morality and professional practice?.

    References: Good. Your references support your claims that were made using the external reliable sources. The intext references and your reference list is good. Your first reference just needs to be corrected.

    Structure: Good. The writing conformed to the structure and guidelines. You can easily improve your sentence structure. Your grammar and spelling were good.

    Argument: Good. This was shown in your blog. You can improve on this by finding more literature on what other health professionals will do in the same situations .

    Technology: Satisfactory. You had an image and videos that related to the topic in the blog. However, you lacked articles and other images that related to the topic. You can add these resources in order to need to capture the reader’s attention with these resources.

    Overall impression of blog post:

    Your blog post was good and can be easily improved by using my comments. I hope my comments will help improve your blogs.

    Good effort Mia!


  2. Hello Mia!

    This topic that you have discussed is quite intriguing, as I have not really come across a student with the opposite view on this ethical dilemma. As you said you thought you were the minority of those who felt this way and I too would have expected less people to feel this way. I have learned from your writing that preconceived ideas does play a role in how you feel about a situation but, it does not have to control or influence how you react in such a situation. Here are a few points which I hope will help you with your next blog posts:

    Your content seems to be sufficient. I liked that you used literature to help support what you were trying to say. You also used literature to learn more and understand more about how you felt. The one thing I would have liked to see is deeper analysis of why you felt this way.

    Referencing was good. Just a few mistakes which you made in the reference list that could be avoided by re-checking the list before you submit. I thought that you used strong sources which was great.

    Your structure seems to be done well. I do feel that your sentences could be improved, some were quite long and others were a bit hard to follow. By reading out aloud you could be able to pick up on ways to improve sentence structures and grammar and this should greatly improve the fluidity of the piece.

    With regards to your argument, I see that you do acknowledge both points of views and you do try to understand both sides which is great. I do think by talking more about the struggle between these 2 concepts, supported by literature, you could create an even stronger argument.

    You made good use of technology for this blog post. You have added a significant picture demonstrating the essence of the conflict, you have added hyperlinks, tags and categorized your topic. For your next blog post you could maybe add a picture within the writing piece, to illustrate and emphasize a point that you are trying to make in a specific section or paragraph of that particular post. Hopefully you will also be able to find good videos that you can use for the next blog posts.

    This was a great first effort Mia, well done!


  3. Hi Mia
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I found it very insightful and personally challenging. I believe that this is a concept that us as professionals will always be faced with.

    Areas to improve
    Content: The content of the post was sufficient and concise. There was a nice balance between seeing your ability to self reflect and also to see what the literature says. It would have been nice to see you unpack some of the moral concepts such as integrity and sincerity a bit more and explain how you are struggling with those specific ideas within the clinical setting. I liked the way that you did not provide a solution to the issue and left it open for the reader to make up their own mind.

    Structure: Your post was nicely structured, good use of paragraphs to separate your ideas.

    references: Good use of a number of references. Your reference list is correct except for that one error with the first reference. In-text references are correct and good use of hyperlink.

    Multimedia: The picture you used is relevant to your topic and I liked your use of a hyperlink. For your next blog try and find a video to attach, if there is an appropriate one.

    Overall I thought this was a very interesting read that challenged my own thoughts on my morals and ethics. Thank you for sharing it with us. I hope my feedback is useful for your next blog post.


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