The School of Nursing’s board pass rate for its BSN program has dropped steadily in the last five years from an impressive 98% rate to the current 82%. The long-serving director of the program retired four years ago. The new director has yet to establish rapport with his faculty. At present, every faculty member seems intent on going his own way with little concern for the school as a whole.
Two recent MSN graduates have been added to the faculty. Both are intent on qualifying for tenure as soon as possible. Ann Malic, a critical care nurse specialist, has an ACCN mentor, and is already working on a pilot research study. She has been told to zealously guard her time when not teaching and to focus on her scholarship.
James Nantz, the public health nurse, already has a history for volunteering. He serves on the curriculum revision committee and has been asked to lead a task force to figure out how to re-establish higher pass rates. Popular with the students, Nantz also is a faculty mentor for the local chapter of the student nurses’ association. He has many students involved in health projects with the underserved community that borders the school. At the end of his first year, the director asks Nantz if he would consider becoming the president of the school’s Sigma Theta Tau chapter — which at present is moribund.
Provision 5 of the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses (2015) makes clear that the nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to promote health and safety, preserve wholeness of character and integrity, maintain competence, and continue personal and professional growth (p. 19).
Professional growth requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Such learning includes continuing education and self-study, networking with professional colleagues, professional reading, achieving specialty certification, and seeking advanced degrees. Nurses must continue to learn about new concepts, issues, concerns, controversies, and healthcare ethics relevant to the current and evolving scope and standards of nursing practice (p. 22).
James Nantz is well on his way to becoming the beloved of all — students, colleagues and the communities he serves — at the expense of his own professional development. He is surprised at the end of his first academic year to discover as he prepares his personal evaluation that he hasn’t even attempted to write the manuscript that should flow from his master’s research. He thought this would be a cinch since the research was finished. He ponders with satisfaction his involvement in the school of nursing and university service, but he knows that he expected more of himself. He definitely plans to pursue a DNP and wonders how he will be able to juggle those studies with his current workload. He is hesitant about accepting the Sigma Theta Tau presidency, but he figures he has more time than his married colleagues with children. He honestly does want to give 100% to the school and knows that much needs to happen if the program is to flourish again. Nantz hasn’t had time to talk much with Malic, but he heard she’s been accepted into a prestigious DNP program and wonders when she had the time to apply.
Emilio DeSantis is a tenured professor in the school of nursing. He invites Nantz for a beer before the semester ends and talks with him about his first year. He listens as Nantz shares his joy about his involvement with students and colleagues as well as his frustration about his own development and scholarship. He nods as Nantz talks about his reluctance to assume the presidency of Sigma Theta Tau. DeSantis asks Nantz if he ever heard the adage: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Most nurses do not do such a good job of taking care of themselves,” DeSantis said. “I think that’s why our code reminds us that we have duties to self, including to continue our personal and professional growth. Sounds like you’ve been too busy helping others to do much for yourself.” As Nantz listens he realizes that he enjoys all the positive feedback he gets from being helpful and that it has come at a cost. He thanks DeSantis and promises to do some hard reflecting on his priorities. For his part, DeSantis promises to talk with the head of the faculty development committee because there isn’t a structured process for bringing tenure eligible junior faculty on board and promoting their development. “This should be a matter of justice,” DeSantis will say. “We can’t keep exploiting folks with good and generous hearts.”
Source: American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements. Silver Spring, MD: Author.