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Breaching Professional Boundaries Between Nurse Educators and Students


Nursing is a profession that is mainly concerned with the provision of health care services to patients. The nurses play these critical roles as they are trained with skills that enhance their job competence. Nurse education involves a series of theoretical and practical training that purposely prepares caregivers for their profession. Nurse educators take this role of teaching in a nursing school or a clinical setup. For a better and more comfortable working experience, nurses work under specific, legal, ethical, and organizational frameworks that protect them from physical and emotional harm. This paper discusses how the breaching of these professional boundaries between nurse educators and student nurses can impact them.

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Effective Relationships Between Nurse Educators and Student nurses

The relationship between nurse educators and student nurses can either positively or negatively impact students’ resilience. Promoting factors such as higher expectations, opportunities, and caring relationships can improve their performance and competence. Students have higher prospects from the trainer, and in case the educator fails to fulfill this, they lower their morale generally. Opportunities must be created for the learners to showcase what they have been taught in the classroom. The instructor must allocate enough time for practicals and be physically present to clarify complex concepts and new encounters. The nurse educator acts as role models and mentors to their students, enabling them to overcome challenges and environmental changes (Sadd, 2019). The learners imitate what their tutors do and bring out the best within themselves. Additionally, they become confident in their career and become wise decision-makers in matters concerning their field of work.

Breaching of Professional Boundaries

The term breaching professional boundaries refers to the violation of rules that govern the working relationship between nurse educators and their students. Getting engaged in a patient’s private affairs, purchasing or selling personal goods, and adopting dual relations which include acquaintance, affection, or intimate engagement with a client or a member of the family are all examples of ethical boundary violations. This can affect the nursing profession negatively, as discussed below.

Disrespect Between Student Nurses and Nurse Educators

Caring and respect are the most valued virtues in the nursing profession. It is required while training and interacting with patients in hospitals, workmates, and other professionals. Therefore, it is the role of the nursing educators to ensure they impact these values in students. However, disrespect can lead to academic incivility among the students (Park and Kang, 2020). These are the speech or actions which go against the accepted codes of conduct in student-educator interaction. For an instance, when the nurse educator is teaching, the students might be having other discussions deviating them from understanding. This can lower the self-esteem of the educator as the students may be looking down on them. It can cause anger, fear, self-doubt, and confusion in the educator.

Poor Nurse-Patient Communication

For the delivery of services, the nurse must communicate with the patient to get some vital information. Poor communication skills can cause more harm, medical errors, and injury (Létourneau et al., 2021). Wrong medicine subscription can occur, leading to adverse outcomes such as patient dissatisfaction and even death. The sick condition detects how he can communicate, and in certain cases, some signs can be in-cooperated and, hence, literacy in sign language is needed. This caters to disabled patients so that they are not discriminated against, and their rights violated.

Emotional and Academic Stress in Students

A conducive educational environment is needed for any successful learning and training process. Breach of professional boundaries can lead to academic and emotional stress resulting in lower performance (Jack et al., 2017). In the clinical setup, a harsh environment can result from patients and working equipment, especially if they lack knowledge of operating them. Emotional exploitation can cause depression and trauma among students. Verbal abuse may contribute to more stress and finally being less satisfied with job experience. This will generally affect the discipline of nursing, lowering its reputation.

Hinders Creativity Among the Student Nurses

Creativity brings about continuous development and growth in the profession through the acquisition of skills and knowledge applied. New developments in technology are essential in the nursing career as they expose them to new and improved ways of doing things. Failure to cultivate creative skills may hinder the acquirement of information communication and technology skills. The quality of work offered, and personal and social life is majorly affected.

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Negative Attitudes and Behavior

Nurses must conduct themselves according to the expectations granted to them. Any misconduct in behavior can lead to expulsion from the field. Nurse students go against simple rules while training, which may affect them even in the future as it is challenging to change them. A negative attitude towards the nurse educator can lead to poor patient satisfaction in the future as they interact with clients from diverse backgrounds (Ohno-Machado & Séroussi, 2019). Breaching of professional boundaries affects behavior since it’s continuous and learned daily.

Breach of Cultural Beliefs

Culture in healing assumes healthcare workers’ experience to give the best care to patients while displaying cultural awareness of their values, race, and abilities. Nurse educators must sensitize their students on the roles played by culture in their careers. Failure to which may go against the culture, which will negatively impact them (Markey et al., 2018). Some patients have beliefs that taking prescribed medication cannot cure them. A qualified nurse must be able to educate this person until he sees some sense in taking drugs.

Hinders Ethical Decision Making

Ethics in education leads to better moral judgment skills and sensitivity. Failure of the nurse educators to develop these skills can lead to poor patient judgment by the student nurses. They must identify the problem, generate alternatives, decide on the course of action and then implement the best decision (Song, 2018). Professional boundaries between student nurses and educators must develop a better basis for decision-making for better interaction among them.

Lead to Staffing Crisis

Most student nurses may drop out of the nursing training when they find it too difficult to cope with the conditions. This can directly be influenced by the nurse educators who fail to take their roles responsibly by counseling and advising the students on the importance of fulfilling their dreams. This may lead to increased unemployment levels as the number of patients becomes high than the number of caregivers. This may force some countries to look for qualified nurses in other countries, which may be expensive in terms of numeration and payment.


The nursing profession plays a critical role in ensuring that patients get the best care and treatment. Therefore, while in training, the nurse educators must ensure that they equip them with all the skills needed. This will make them be good decision-makers, develop a positive attitude, and become competent and good role models to society. In contrast, breaching professional boundaries between tutors and student nurses causes more harm than good.

Moreover, it can lead to disrespect between student nurses and instructors where there are no agreements in standard terms, staff crisis in the health profession, and unethical decision making. Breach of cultural beliefs where the nurses lack understanding and sensitivity to culture is the foundation of all human interactions. Development of negative attitudes and behavior making the patient feel uncomfortable while interacting with nurses. Emotional and academic stress in students leads to poor performance and competency, poor nurse-patient communication, and decreased creativity.


Jack, K., Hamshire, C., & Chambers, A. (2017). The influence of role models in undergraduate nurse education. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 26(23-24), 4707-4715. Web.

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Létourneau, D., Goudreau, J., & Cara, C. (2021). Humanistic caring, a nursing competency: Modelling a metamorphosis from students to accomplished nurses. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 35(1), 196-207. Web.

Markey, K., Tilki, M., & Taylor, G. (2018). Understanding nurses’ concerns when caring for patients from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(1-2), e259-e268. Web.

Park, E. J., & Kang, H. (2020). Nurse educators’ experiences with student incivility: A meta-synthesis of qualitative studies. Journal of educational Evaluation for Health Professions, 17, 23. Web.

Sadd, R. (2019). Student nurse attitudes and behaviours when using social network sites. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics. 264. 1342-1346. Web.

Song, J. (2018). Ethics education in nursing: Challenges for nurse educators. Kai Tiaki Nursing Research, 9(1), 12. Web.

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