Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Scholarly project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Nursing




Matthew Byrne


Nursing as a profession has had an enduring past that has responded to the changes and challenges within a complex healthcare system. In a 2014 Gallup survey, nurses were recognized as the top profession in the areas of honesty and ethical standards. For the last thirteen years nurses have earned this honor. According to the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) president Dr. Pamela Cipriano, “The public places its faith in nurses to practice ethically. A patient’s health, autonomy and even life or death, can be affected by a nurse’s decisions and actions” (P. Cipriano, personal communication, March 12, 2015). Nurses have a commitment to the public as the public recognizes nurses’ ability to care for those seeking health and healing (American Nurses Association, 2015).

The American Nurses Association’s commitment to ethics has a long-standing history within the nursing profession dating back to the 1800s with the first professional code of ethics embraced in 1950 (ANA, 2015). Since that time, the Code has evolved with the changes within nursing, healthcare, technology, society, and the environment. The purpose of the Code was to create non-negotiable, normative statements that outline the obligations, values, and principles for nurses as individuals, groups of nurses, and the profession. The Code provides the framework for nurses’ understanding of their commitment to individuals, families, communities, and populations (ANA, 2015).

Since its infancy, the Code has been viewed as a guide for ethical analysis and decision-making within the profession. It is grounded in “nursing theory, practice, and praxis in its expression of the values, virtues, and obligations that shape, guide, and inform nursing as a profession” (ANA, 2015, p. vii). The Codeserves as a resource for nurses in their ethical milieu

to execute their ethical responsibilities and obligations (Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, 2014).

Nurses are expected to uphold the values and ideals of the nursing profession in all areas of their life (ANA, 2015). Individuals who aspire to enter the nursing profession need additional guidance and education within nursing school curriculum. Nurse educators have the opportunity and obligation to guide undergraduate and graduate nursing students in the areas of nursing ethics, ethical analysis, and ethical decision-making to produce ethical practitioners.

The subsequent sections of this scholarly work is comprised of the following: the significance of the project explained; questions posed moving forward in the literature; topic background; theoretical foundation and professional standards that support nursing ethics and education; suggested evidenced-based frameworks for teaching nursing ethics; emerging themes from the literature; identified gaps in the literature; and recommendations for nurse educators and nurse educator practice.