Chapter 5 : Nursing and Ethics

Section 4. Readings:  Code of ethics for Nursing Students

National Student Nurses' Association, Inc.

Code of Academic and Clinical Conduct


Students of nursing have a responsibility to society in learning the academic theory and clinical skills needed to provide nursing care. The clinical setting presents unique challenges and responsibilities while caring for human beings in a variety of health care environments.

The code of Academic and Clinical conduct is based on an understanding that to practice nursing as a student is an agreement to uphold the trust with which society has placed in us. The statements of the code provide guidance for the nursing student in the personal development of an ethical foundation and need not to be limited strictly to the academic or clinical environment but can assist in the holistic development of a person.


As students are involved in the clinical and academic environments we believe that ethical principles are necessary to guide to professional development. Therefore within these environments we;

1. Advocate the rights of all clients.

2. Maintain client confidentiality.

3. Take appropriate action to ensure the safety of clients, self , and others.

4. Provide care for the client in a timely, compassionate and professional manner.

5. Communicate client care in a truthful, timely and accurate manner.

6. Actively promote the highest level of moral and ethical principles and accept responsibility for our actions.

7. Promote excellence in nursing by encouraging lifelong learning and professional development.

8. Treat others with respect and promote environment that respects human rights, value, an choice of cultural and spiritual beliefs.

9. Collaborate in every reasonable manner with the academic faculty and clinical staff to ensure the highest quality of client care.

10. Use every opportunity to improve faculty and clinical staff understanding of the learning needs of nursing students.

11. Encourage faculty, clinical staff, and peers to mentor nursing students.

12. Refrain from performing any technique or procedure for which the student has not been adequately trained.

13. Refrain from any deliberate action or omission of care in the academic or clinical setting that creates unnecessary risk of injury to client, self or others.

14. Assist the staff nurse of preceptor in ensuring that there is full disclosure and that proper authorizations are obtained from clients regarding any form of treatment or research.

15. Abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages or any substances in the academic and clinical setting that impair judgement.

16. Strive to achieve and maintain optimal level of personal health.

17. Support access to treatment and rehabilitation for students who are experiencing impairments related to substance abuse or mental or physical health issues.

18. Uphold school policies and regulations related to academic and clinical performance reserving the right to challenge and critique rules and regulations as per school grievance policy.

Adopted by the NSNA House of Delegates, Nasheville, TN on April 6, 2001.


Guidelines for Ethical and Professional Conduct for Nursing Students


Nursing is based on the ethical value of a commitment to promoting well-being by providing competent and compassionate care.

Nursing students when entering their educational program should be committed to learning and accepting the ethical standards of conduct of the profession. During their educational program, nursing students strive to learn to promote, to restore and to support health, to prevent illness and also, to relieve suffering. Furthermore, nursing students will reflect on their own values and learn about the profession's values.

The following guidelines are designed to assist nursing students to provide ethical nursing care and to meet the Faculty's expectations regarding ethical and professional conduct. The guidelines will help nursing students become reflective, ethical practitioners.

Guidelines and codes are beneficial because they state values, obligations and limitations. These guidelines are designed to help students think about and resolve ethical and professional questions and issues. However, some ethical questions cannot be answered only by reference to a rule or guideline. Therefore, nursing students are encouraged to discuss ethical issues, concerns and questions as they arise, with their instructors and student group.

The Faculty of Nursing's Guidelines for Ethical and Professional Conduct for Nursing Students complement the University of Toronto's Code of Behavior on Academic Matters, University of Toronto's Code of Student Conduct and the Faculty of Nursing's Guidelines for Appearance of Student in Uniform. Students are responsible for knowing these documents and complying with the code and guidelines.

Nursing students are engaged in a number of relationships and therefore have obligations to different individuals and groups. Thus, the guidelines are divided into three sections (i) nursing student and the client, (ii) nursing student and other health professionals, and (iii) nursing student and the profession.

The Nursing Student and Clients

The nursing student is expected to respect the needs and values of clients. The following guidelines will assist the student in meeting this expectation.

1. The nursing student should be respectful of client's values, culture and religion.

2. When a nursing student does not wish to provide care to a client for ethical or religious reasons or because of a conflict in values, the student should discuss the assignment with the instructor as soon as possible. The nursing student must continue providing care until the issue is resolved.

3. The nursing student must provide safe, competent care to client(s). (Please refer to Information on Unsafe Performance, page 67).

4. The nursing student should strive to establish a therapeutic and caring relationship with clients. This professional relationship is based on trust which must not be violated.

5. The nursing student should communicate verbally and non-verbally with clients and families in a professional manner.

6. The nursing student should maintain client/family confidentiality. The client or designated other must consent to information being disclosed to his/her family, friends, other individuals, and/or health professionals who are not members of the client's health care team. Nursing students are responsible for knowing the policy and practices regarding disclosure of confidential information at the agency where they are practicing. Information can be shared by the nursing student with the client's health care team and appropriate Faculty members. Client/families should not be discussed in public areas. Client/family confidentiality must be maintained in written assignments and student conferences.

The general rule is that clients must consent to disclosure of information to any individuals who are not members of the client's health care team. However, under exceptional circumstances, information can be disclosed without the client's consent: for example, if the safety of the client or others is at serious risk unless specific information is disclosed. Under such circumstances, the nursing student should discuss the situation with his/her instructor. If the instructor is unavailable immediately, the nursing student should discuss the situation promptly with a responsible person in the clinical setting.

7. The nursing student must not be under the influence of substances (for instance, alcohol and illicit drugs) during class nor at the clinical placement.

8. The nursing student should recognize that attendance at clinical placements is compulsory.

9. The nursing student should inform his/her instructor as soon as possible, or according to the manner established by the instructor, if he/she is unable to attend the clinical placement due to illness or extenuating circumstances.

The Nursing Student and Other Health Care Professionals

The following guidelines will assist the nursing student to develop and maintain professional relationships and ethical conduct with colleagues.

1. The nursing student is a member of the client's health team. Therefore, the nursing student should accept responsibility to work co-operatively with peers, the instructor and other health care professionals to provide competent and safe client care.

2. In the event that a nursing student has reason to believe that another student or health care professional is not giving competent and safe care, and/or is giving care under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the student's first obligations are to protect the client from harm, to ensure that client dignity is respected, and to inform the instructor of the situation immediately.

3. If the instructor is not available immediately, the nursing student should inform promptly a responsible person at the clinical setting of the misconduct. Both misconduct and failure to report misconduct can result in a client being harmed psychologically and physically. It is left to the student's discretion whether he/she also wants to discuss the issue with the student(s) or health professional(s) involved.

The Nursing Student and the Profession

The nursing student represents the nursing profession. Therefore, the student has an obligation to know and appreciate the profession's values and also, to incorporate them into his/her practice.

The following guidelines will assist the nursing student to meet this expectation.

1. The nursing student should understand the Canadian Nurses Association's Code of Ethics for Nursing and the College of Nurses of Ontario's Guidelines for Ethical Behavior in Nursing.

2. The nursing student should refer to these codes when making decisions about an ethical issue.

3. The nursing student should discuss ethical and professional concerns with his/her peers, instructors and other Faculty members.

Approved by Faculty Council, Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, September, 1993



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