The National League for Nursing (NLN) has developed ethical principles for nursing education programs, based on the NLN core values of caring, integrity, diversity, and excellence. Nurse educators are responsible for developing the next generation of nurses, and instilling the values of caring, collaborative learning and ethical standards of practice.
The values and ethical principles governing nursing practice can be found in the Code for Nurses, adopted in 1950 by the American Nurses’ Association (ANA), and revised periodically. The NLN recognizes this code of ethics, as well as the ethics guidelines developed by the International Council of Nurses. The NLN seeks to broaden ethical guidelines for nurse educators in order to address the development of a culture and environment based on cooperation, support, and mutual enrichment.
Ethical Principles for Nursing Education
In order to care for others, one must first care for self. Nurse educators should model caring behaviors that include the recognition of self-care as a basis to care for others; acceptance and the freedom to express concern and criticism; and relationship-centered interactions.
Integrity encompasses the ability to communicate honestly and sincerely, and take responsibility for one’s actions. Treating others with respect through clear communication is at the core of integrity. Nurse educators should demonstrate honesty, self-respect, and dignity; maintain confidences, not just of patients, but also of students and colleagues; and stand up for their professional values and beliefs.
In education, diversity does more than acknowledge and advocate for differences of backgrounds and experiences. Diversity in education encourages teaching strategies that address a variety of learning styles and supports fair treatment of all students. Diversity affirms the value and significance of contributions made by all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, religious beliefs, physical abilities, and political beliefs.
Excellence is achieved through engagement in scholarship, professional growth, and continual improvement. The development of a colleigial environment, institutional support for the nursing unit, and strong leadership all contribute to a healthy nursing academic work environment. Excellence fosters a spirit of inquiry, and constructs a climate of transformational learning.
Simulation in nursing and health care helps to raise health professionals' awareness of ethics to better understand the mechanisms involved in a difficult situation. An ethical environment reduces issues such as academic dishonesty, incivility among colleagues, or defamation – among other issues that nurses can face daily. Educators can incorporate ethics scenarios into their programs using simulated participants, task trainers, and manikins, and creating situations where students need to make critical decisions, not just about care, but about how to treat the whole human person.
Anthony Battaglia, MS, BSN, RN, is the President and CEO of Pocket Nurse.