Compare and examine the consequences of an unethical behaviors in a nursing Master’s program and in the nursing practice by providing one example for each
Examining the Consequences of Unethical Behaviors in Nursing Master’s Programs and Nursing Practice
Ethical conduct is of paramount importance in the field of nursing, both during the education and practice phases. Unethical behaviors can have far-reaching consequences that impact not only the individual but also the patients, healthcare institutions, and the overall reputation of the nursing profession. In this article, we will explore the consequences of unethical behaviors in a nursing Master’s program and in nursing practice, providing examples for each and drawing from scholarly and peer-reviewed sources published between 2016 and 2023.
Consequences of Unethical Behaviors in a Nursing Master’s Program:
Nursing Master’s programs play a crucial role in shaping future nursing professionals. However, instances of unethical behavior within these programs can undermine the integrity and effectiveness of the education process. Let us examine one example to understand the consequences of such behavior.
Example: Academic Dishonesty
Academic dishonesty, such as cheating or plagiarism, is an unethical behavior that can occur in nursing Master’s programs. This behavior not only compromises the educational experience but also erodes the ethical foundation of nursing practice. Students who engage in academic dishonesty may achieve undeserved grades and credentials, which can have significant repercussions when they enter the nursing profession.
Undermining Competency: Academic dishonesty hinders the development of essential nursing competencies, compromising the quality of care provided by the affected individuals in their future practice. A study by Booth et al. (2018) found that nursing students who engaged in academic dishonesty had lower competency scores in clinical assessments, jeopardizing patient safety.
Diminished Professionalism: Engaging in unethical behaviors during a Master’s program can negatively impact a student’s professional reputation. Nursing is a profession built on trust, and acts of dishonesty erode that trust, making it difficult for nurses to gain the respect of their colleagues and patients (Adib-Hajbaghery & Alavi, 2020).
Ethical Dilemmas: Nurses who have cheated or plagiarized during their Master’s program may find themselves facing ethical dilemmas in their practice. They may struggle with decisions related to patient care, compromising their ability to uphold ethical standards and provide optimal care (Wang et al., 2017).
Legal Consequences: In extreme cases, academic dishonesty can have legal ramifications. If a nursing student engages in fraudulent activities to obtain licensure or certification, they may face legal action, including license revocation and civil penalties (Nelson, 2016). This can severely impact their future career prospects.
Consequences of Unethical Behaviors in Nursing Practice:
Unethical behaviors in nursing practice pose significant risks to patient safety, violate professional codes of ethics, and tarnish the reputation of the nursing profession. Let us examine one example to understand the consequences of such behavior.
Example: Patient Neglect
Patient neglect, a form of unethical behavior, occurs when nurses fail to provide the necessary care and attention to patients, compromising their well-being and safety. This behavior can have severe consequences for both patients and the nursing profession as a whole.
Compromised Patient Safety: Patient neglect can lead to adverse events, prolonged hospital stays, and increased morbidity and mortality rates. A study by Kalisch et al. (2016) found a significant correlation between patient neglect and adverse patient outcomes, including falls, pressure ulcers, and infections.
Legal and Regulatory Consequences: Unethical behaviors, such as patient neglect, can result in legal and regulatory consequences for nurses and healthcare institutions. Nurses who engage in neglectful behavior may face legal action, license suspension, or revocation. Healthcare institutions may also be subject to legal liability and penalties for failing to ensure the provision of adequate care and maintaining a safe environment for patients. The legal consequences serve as a deterrent and reinforce the importance of ethical conduct in nursing practice.
Damage to Professional Reputation: Patient neglect not only harms patients but also damages the reputation of the nursing profession. News of incidents involving neglectful nursing care can spread quickly, leading to public mistrust and negative perceptions of nurses. This tarnishes the image of the profession and can hinder recruitment efforts and collaboration with other healthcare providers (Sundean et al., 2019).
Emotional and Psychological Impact: Unethical behaviors, such as patient neglect, can have a profound emotional and psychological impact on both patients and healthcare providers. Neglected patients may experience feelings of abandonment, fear, and distrust towards healthcare professionals, impeding their recovery process. For nurses involved in neglectful behavior, guilt, shame, and emotional distress may result, affecting their overall well-being and job satisfaction (Coyle et al., 2016).
Addressing and Preventing Unethical Behaviors:
Education and Training: Nursing Master’s programs should prioritize education on ethical principles, professional conduct, and the consequences of unethical behaviors. This includes fostering a culture of integrity, promoting critical thinking skills, and teaching ethical decision-making frameworks (McNeill & Hardicre, 2020). By instilling ethical values from the educational phase, future nurses are better equipped to navigate ethical dilemmas in their practice.
Strong Ethical Guidelines: Nursing regulatory bodies and professional organizations should establish and enforce comprehensive ethical guidelines and codes of conduct. These guidelines should outline expected behaviors, consequences for unethical conduct, and mechanisms for reporting and addressing ethical violations. Clear guidelines help establish professional accountability and promote ethical practice among nurses (Milton et al., 2017).
Ethical Leadership: Healthcare institutions must prioritize ethical leadership and create a supportive environment that promotes ethical behavior. Leaders should serve as role models, demonstrating integrity and ethical decision-making in their interactions with patients, colleagues, and staff. Additionally, establishing systems for reporting and addressing unethical behaviors without fear of retaliation is crucial (Watts et al., 2018).
Continuous Professional Development: Nurses should engage in ongoing professional development activities that emphasize ethical competence and reflect on ethical dilemmas they encounter in their practice. Continued education and training allow nurses to stay updated with ethical standards and guidelines, enhancing their ability to provide ethical care (Huxtable et al., 2016).
Unethical behaviors in nursing Master’s programs and nursing practice have severe consequences that impact patients, healthcare institutions, and the nursing profession as a whole. Academic dishonesty compromises the development of competent and ethical nurses, while patient neglect jeopardizes patient safety and undermines trust in the nursing profession. By prioritizing ethical education, establishing strong ethical guidelines, promoting ethical leadership, and emphasizing continuous professional development, it is possible to mitigate unethical behaviors and uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct in nursing.
Adib-Hajbaghery, M., & Alavi, N. M. (2020). The consequences of nursing students’ academic dishonesty: A systematic review. Nurse Education Today, 86, 104335.
Booth, R., O’Rourke, K., Ford, R., & Maher, M. (2018). Nursing students’ self-reported competencies and cheating behaviors in clinical practice. Journal of Nursing Education, 57(12), 740-744.
Coyle, D., O’Sullivan, J., & Kelly, D. (2016). Neglect in the nursing home setting: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 25(23-24), 3539-3558.
Huxtable, R., Ives, J., & Larcher, V. (2016).