Moral development and academic and clinical integrity of nursing students

Saturday, 16 November 2013: 3:35 PM

Jennifer Basler, PhD, RN, CCRN, CNE
College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI

Learning Objective 1: Describe the role of moral development in nursing student development and behavior how level of moral development impacts academic & clinical integrity

Learning Objective 2: Identify three ways to enhance student's ethical reasoning based on the results of this study

The purpose of this study was to examine the level of moral development and perceptions of academic and clinical integrity of baccalaureate nursing students enrolled in their first semester or final semester of a nursing program. The Hilbert Unethical Behavior Survey and Defining Issues Test-2 was administered online to both groups.  A convenience sample of 100 schools was selected to participate randomly from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education list of accredited baccalaureate nursing programs.  Institutional review board approval was obtained, 24 schools agreed to participate, and 135 students completed the surveys. Results were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. While no significant differences were found in moral development, perceptions of academic integrity, or perceptions of clinical integrity between students in their first and final semesters of nursing school, a small positive correlation was found between perceptions of academic integrity and perceptions of clinical integrity. Results of this study, while not all statistically significant, did reveal that all nursing students did not perceive the unethical behaviors presented as in fact unethical. These findings suggest that nursing educators should monitor the behaviors of students and provide feedback and opportunities for students to improve their moral reasoning. This study demonstrates the continued need for ethics theory and application of ethical decision making for students.