Ethical Considerations in Crucial Professions
Susan Knowles, DNP, RN
Both nursing and education are considered crucial professions that serve specific critical needs for the betterment of society (Grace, 2014).
According to Sellman (2005), a society would be “more-than-ordinarily vulnerable” should either profession fail to meet the needs of society (as cited in Grace, 2014, p. 58). Teaching nursing combines both of these critical professions.
According to the American Nursing Association (ANA) Position Statement (2008) regarding professional role competence, it is the shared responsibility of both the registered nurse and the employer to ensure the professional nurse is competent to practice (ANA, 2008). Ethically, both the nurse wishing to transition into a clinical teaching position and the administration of a school of nursing must ensure the nurse is appropriately prepared to take on this new role. Both nursing students and patients have a right to expect professional nursing educators to have demonstrated professional teaching competence (ANA, 2008).
“Students have a right to expect that their clinical teachers are competent, responsible, and knowledgeable” (Gaberson, et al., 2015, p. 130).
The ethical principle of Beneficence is at stake as, “Students have a right to expect that their clinical teachers are competent, responsible, and knowledgeable” (Gaberson, et al., 2015, p. 130).
In teaching individuals to become nurses, our responsibility to society takes on a higher level of responsibility and duality of obligation (Grace, 2014). In a healthcare setting, patients are there for healthcare and students are there for learning, therefore, it must be remembered to follow the principle of non-maleficence, to do no harm (Gaberson et al, 2015; Grace, 2014). Clinical faculty must keep the patient first following the principle of Fidelity (Grace, 2014). This is a balancing act between competing loyalties to the patient and to the student.
The end goal of this course is to increase the competency of the clinical nursing instructor
to ensure graduates provide safe nursing care, thereby, keeping our social contract/promise to society as nurse educators. We promise that the individuals we add to our ranks will subscribe to the same code of ethical behaviors (ANA, 2001). The Institute of Medicine is calling for 80 percent of nursing graduates to hold a baccalaureate degree by 2020, however, there is no mention of ensuring their nursing instructors are equally prepared to teach the graduates of tomorrow (IOM, 2010). This is the call of this program.
American Nurses Association (ANA). (2001). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretative statements. Silver Spring, MD. Retrieved from
American Nursing Association. (ANA).(2008). Professional Role Competence. Retrieved from
Gaberson, K.B, Oermann, M.H., & Shellenbarger, T. (2015). Clinical Teaching Strategies in Nursing (4th ed.). New York, Springer Publishing Co.
Grace, P. J. (2014). Nursing ethics and professional responsibility in advanced practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM). (2010) The future of nursing: Focus on
Education. Report Brief. Retrieved from