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Keywords:

  • ethical competence;
  • nurse;
  • nurse leader;
  • performance reviews;
  • recruitment

Aim

The aim of this study was to analyse how nurse leaders support the ethical competence of nurses during recruitment and performance reviews.

Background

Ethical competence of nurses refers to ethical behaviour and action requiring ethical knowledge and reflection. Nurse leaders have a key role in supporting the ethical competence of nurses, but little is known about just how this should be done.

Method

The data were collected using a structured questionnaire and analysed statistically. The target sample consisted of nurse leaders (= 198) from two university hospitals in two healthcare districts in Finland.

Results

Nurse leaders support the ethical competence of nurses more often during performance reviews than during recruitment. During recruitment, nurse leaders ensure the ethical behaviour and knowledge of nurses to varying degrees. During performance reviews, nurse leaders ensure that nurses meet the requirements for collegiality and comply with ethical guidelines and that they do so according to nursing values and principles.

Conclusions

There seems to be a need to examine and improve support for the ethical competence of nurses, both during recruitment and performance reviews. Future priorities should include a focus on supporting the ethical knowledge, reflection and behaviour of nurses.

Implications for nursing management

An important aspect in terms of supporting the ethical competence of nurses has to do with the ethical knowledge and education of nurse leaders and organisational policies or recommendations for ethical support.