Ethical climate and nurse competence - newly graduated nurses' perceptions

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Abstract

Background:

Nursing practice takes place in a social framework, in which environmental elements and interpersonal relations interact. Ethical climate of the work unit is an important element affecting nurses' professional and ethical practice. Nevertheless, whatever the environmental circumstances, nurses are expected to be professionally competent providing high-quality care ethically and clinically.

Aim:

This study examined newly graduated nurses' perception of the ethical climate of their work environment and its association with their self-assessed professional competence, turnover intentions and job satisfaction.

Method:

Descriptive, cross-sectional, correlational research design was applied. Participants consisted of 318 newly graduated nurses. Data were collected electronically and analysed statistically.

Ethical considerations:

Ethical approval and permissions to use instruments and conduct the study were obtained according to required procedures. Data were rendered anonymous to protect participant confidentiality. Completing the questionnaire was interpreted as consent to participate.

Findings:

Nurses' overall perception of the ethical climate was positive. More positive perceptions related to peers, patients and physicians, and less positive to hospitals and managers. Strong associations were found between perceived ethical climate and self-assessed competence, turnover intentions in terms of changing job, and job satisfaction in terms of quality of care. Nurses at a higher competence level with positive views of job satisfaction and low turnover intentions perceived the climate significantly more positively.

Conclusion:

Nursing management responsible for and having the power to implement changes should understand their contribution in ethical leadership, as well as the multidimensional nature of nurses' work environment and the interaction between work-related factors in planning developmental measures. Future research should focus on issues in nurse managers' ethical leadership in creating ethical work environments. There is also a need for knowledge of newly graduated nurses' views of factors which act as enhancers or barriers to positive ethical climates to develop. Interventions, continuing education courses, and discussions designed to promote positive ethical climates should be developed for managers, nurses, and multi-professional teams.

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