An investigation of professional integrity in pre-registration nurse education: A modified grounded theory research study

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Background: Acting with integrity is a central part of nursing practice. However, literature shows that professional integrity can be absent and where this is present it can face challenges. Governmental Inquiries have revealed deficits in the expression of nursing values which underpin professional integrity, in particular caring, compassionate and competent practice that maintains the dignity of patients. Evidence also suggests that it cannot be taken for granted that pre-registration education will have a positive impact on student nurses' ability to practice with integrity.

Objectives: This research explored students', mentors' and lecturers' experiences of professional integrity in pre-registration nurse education.

Methodology: A grounded theory approach was informed by the work of Charmaz (2004, 2006).

Context: The study, which took place in a UK university, involved four fields of nursing practice: Adult, Children, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities.

Participants: 12 student nurses, 5 practice-based mentors and 6 lecturers participated.

Findings: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups revealed three main themes: meanings, enactment and growth of professional integrity.

Conclusions: Pre-registration education can influence the growth of professional integrity by improving students' understanding of the boundaries of nursing practice and potential threats to these, skills to speak up on behalf of patients, and knowledge of the processes involved in raising concerns about practice and potential barriers to this. The proactive development of student nurses' strategies to cope, alongside increasing their understanding of the importance of this is also likely to be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-44
Number of pages5
JournalNurse Education Today
Early online date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


  • Integrity
  • Values
  • Genuineness
  • Socialisation

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