Clinical nurse educators’ beliefs of the values and ethical principles of the profession of nursing and the implications for clinical education
Clinical nurse educators serve as role models, teachers, and visionary leaders who can pass on the values and ethical principles of the profession to future nurses. Without a clear understanding of these norms and standards, nurse educators will struggle to maintain expert nursing practice and create learning environments essential for the effective socialization of students into their future roles. The purpose of this study was to explore clinical nurse educators’ beliefs about the values and ethical principles of the profession and examine how these commitments influence their clinical teaching practices as they seek to educate the next generations of nurses.Six clinical nurse educators in a Bachelor of Science nursing program participated in this study. Utilizing a qualitative descriptive design, findings revealed core beliefs about the importance of integrity, patient rights, and duty to care. Honesty was identified a sub-theme within integrity; fair treatment, “do no harm,” empowerment, and autonomy and advocacy were sub-themes of patients’ rights; morality, compassion, and empathy were sub-themes of duty to care. Although these beliefs are broadly in line with National League of Nursing and American Nurses Association guidelines, participants only demonstrated a tacit knowledge of their professional codes. No one could offer an explicit explanation of the values and ethical principles central to professional practice. All understood it was their responsibility as clinical nurse educators to impart these values and principles to their students and were committed to doing this to the best of their ability. They understood the need to model professional practice and took time to discuss the moral imperatives behind their actions. However, without explicit reference to received norms and standards, their instructional efforts rested mainly on the force of example, a practice to theory gap that undercut the future nurse’s need for an informed and reflective understanding of professional conduct. These findings reinforce the integral role played by clinical instructors in the preparation of future nurses, while highlighting the need for increased curricular and pedagogic focus on the values and ethical principles essential to the profession. Recommendations include the need for more thorough on-boarding programs and greater coordination with didactic faculty.