Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Ethics of Truth

The past couple of weeks have been ones in which truth-telling has taken a bath. One of my personal “good guys,” Eliot Spitzer, was found – well, you know where.

And while my local newspaper endorsed Barak Obama in large black editorial typeface, my periodical of choice, Time Magazine, ran its own editorial about why newspapers should never write an endorsement of a candidate (makes them look less objective, was the reasoning).

Then in this week’s Time, a columnist shared his day’s tasks: run, eat, drop off kids, vote for Barak.

It makes me think about an issue of ethics that I’ve believed in for some time: transparency.

I remember precious little else from my undergraduate education, but this one bit of extemporaneous advice from a professor stuck with me and rang true: as people setting ourselves up to help and guide other people, the most honest thing we should do is post, for everyone to see, our own personal guiding beliefs. Then, people who chose to accept our help would know what they were getting into.

It rang true to me then, and it rings true to me today. What guides me, as a person, will deeply affect the advice and assistance I give you.

As an educator, dedicating this phase of my career to training the next generation of senior care providers, my personal beliefs profoundly affect how I craft the learning experience.

My staff has been immersed in the creation of the first online course to train Certified Nursing Assistants in the state of Oregon, a project jointly sponsored by my company, aQuire Training Solutions, and the Oregon Health Care Association.

Part of what every nursing assistant must know to pass the state exam is a set of procedures for providing specific care tasks to individuals; things like transferring from bed to wheelchair, and assisting with a shower.

The state posts these procedures, step by 101-step, on their website. Instructors must teach the steps exactly as the state sets out.

As we were creating learning activities to help students learn these steps easier I felt myself getting more and more agitated – couldn’t figure out why, until I realized – and shouted, “These steps sound like we’re moving pieces of furniture!”

We’re teaching students the steps, but we’re adding in, for every step, a sample quote of what the student might say to the individual as the step is being taken.

We’re not caring for pieces of furniture. We’re caring for individuals – with losses, with needs, with real human lives.

My own beliefs show through in every aspect of this course. I think that the course will be better for it – but that’s for you to judge. My beliefs are pretty much out there for everyone to see…

Watch the movie…you’ll get it!