Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)



First Advisor/Committee Member

Thomas Alsbury

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Nyaradzo Mvududu

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Lorretta Krautscheid


registered nurse, ethics education, professional values, NPVS-R, curriculum, work experience, degree


The nursing code of ethics (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2015) defines professional values for the nurse, but educational differences experienced by nursing students as well as varied work experiences after licensure may affect development of those values. The purpose of this study was to measure the professional values of practicing registered nurses (RNs) in the state of Washington (WA) using the Nurses Professional Values Scale-Revised (NPVS-R; Weis & Schank, 2009), and to determine if their values were significantly related to variables of education and experience. Independent variables in this study were type of pre-licensure nursing program, pre-licensure ethics curriculum method, hours of post-licensure ethics education, and years of RN work experience. Rest’s (1994) Four Component Model theory of professional moral development provided a foundation for this study of professional nursing values. The author used a causal comparative research design to examine relationships between variables of interest, and invited RNs with active licenses and email addresses on file with the state to participate in an online survey. Findings suggested professional values of nurses in WA were similar to those reported in other studies. The author found no statistically significant relationship between type of pre-licensure nursing program and strength of professional values (ղ2 = .003), and identified no significant difference between nurses who had a standalone nursing ethics course during pre-licensure curricula and those who experienced curricula with integrated nursing ethics (Cohen’s d = .03). Professional values did vary significantly based on years of nursing experience (ղ2 = .01), and there was a significant, modest, positive relationship between professional values and amount of time spent by the nurse in post-licensure ethics education (r2 = .02).

Findings in this study suggest that providing education and support to practicing nurses for development of strong professional values may have positive enduring consequences and curriculum factors prior to gaining the initial nursing license may be of lesser importance. This study may have application for health care leaders and educators to promote support for ongoing workplace investment in ethics education for practicing nurses.

Keywords: registered nurse, ethics education, professional values, NPVS-R, curriculum, work experience, degree

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