Ethical and Professional Conduct for Nursing Students

The nursing profession espouses a commitment to promoting well-being by providing competent and compassionate care.

Nursing students should be committed to learning and accepting the ethical standards of conduct of the profession. During their educational program, nursing students strive to learn, promote, restore and support health to prevent illness and to relieve suffering.

The following guidelines are designed to help nursing students provide ethical nursing care and to meet the Faculty’s expectations regarding ethical and professional conduct.

Not all ethical questions can be answered by these guidelines, and Bloomberg Nursing students are encouraged to discuss ethical issues, concerns and questions as they arise with their instructors and student cohort.

These guidelines complement the University of Toronto’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, the  University of Toronto’s Code of Student Conduct, and the Standards of Professional Practice Behaviour for all Health Professional Students.

The Nursing Student & Clients

As a Bloomberg Nursing student, you are expected to respect the needs and values of clients. The following guidelines will assist you in meeting this expectation.

  • The nursing student should be respectful of a client’s values, culture, and religion.
  • When a nursing student does not wish to provide care to a client for ethical or religious reasons, or because of a conflict in values, the student should discuss the assignment with the instructor as soon as possible. The nursing student must continue providing care until the issue is resolved.
  • The nursing student must provide safe, competent care to client(s).
  • The nursing student should strive to establish a therapeutic and caring relationship with clients. This professional relationship is based on trust, which must not be violated.
  • The nursing student should communicate verbally and non-verbally with clients and families in a professional manner.

Client and Family Confidentiality

  • The nursing student should maintain client/family confidentiality.
  • The client or designated other must consent to information being disclosed to their family, friends, other individuals and/or health professionals who are not members of the client’s health care team.
  • Nursing students are responsible for knowing the policy and practices regarding disclosure of confidential information at the agency where they are practicing. Information can be shared by the nursing student with the client’s health care team and appropriate Faculty members. Clients/families should not be discussed in public areas.
  • Client/family confidentiality must be maintained in written assignments and student conferences.
  • The general rule is that clients must consent to disclosure of information to any individuals who are not members of the client’s health care team. However, under exceptional circumstances, information can be disclosed without the client’s consent; for example, if the safety of the client, or others, is at serious risk unless specific information is disclosed. Under such circumstances, the nursing student should discuss the situation with their instructor. If the instructor is not immediately available, the nursing student should discuss the situation promptly with a responsible person in the clinical setting.
  • The nursing student must not be under the influence of substances (e.g., alcohol and illicit drugs) during class or at the clinical placement.
  • The nursing student should recognize that attendance at clinical placements is compulsory.
  • The nursing student should inform their instructor as soon as possible, or according to the manner established by the instructor, if they are unable to attend the clinical placement due to illness or extenuating circumstances.

The Nursing Student & Other Health Care Professionals

The following guidelines will assist you as a Bloomberg Nursing student in developing and maintaining professional relationships and ethical conduct with colleagues.

  • The nursing student is a member of the client’s health team and must work co-operatively with peers, the instructor and other health care professionals to provide competent and safe client care.
  • In the event that a nursing student has reason to believe that another student or health care professional is not providing competent and safe care, and/or is giving care under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the student’s first obligations are to protect the client from harm, to ensure that client dignity is respected, and to inform the instructor of the situation immediately.
  • If the instructor is not available immediately, the nursing student should promptly inform a responsible person at the clinical setting of the misconduct. Both misconduct and failure to report misconduct can result in a client being harmed psychologically and physically. It is left to the student’s discretion whether they also want to discuss the issue with the student(s) or health professional(s) involved.

The Nursing Student & the Profession

As a nursing student you are also representative of the nursing profession. Therefore, you have an obligation to know and appreciate the profession’s values and to incorporate them into your practice. The following guidelines will assist the you in meeting this expectation.

Social Media Conduct and Best Practices

Social media is a powerful tool used to engage the public on a variety of important issues and topics and is a great resource for sharing and promoting your own research and events, while highlighting exciting opportunities, your own career growth and more.

It is also important to remember that when using social media following a set of “best practice” guidelines, will help you protect your personal and professional reputation and effectively manage your social media presence.

Here are a few guidelines you may want to consider if you currently run or are thinking about running a social media channel of your own. As student or member of Bloomberg Nursing you are encouraged to adhere to the following best practices and review resources from external organizations which are also listed below.

Be Respectful

Be professional and respectful at all times on your social accounts. It is better to refrain from negative arguments and debates than to engage. Be civil in your language, and do not post discriminatory or derogatory remarks. Please review the University of Toronto Guideline on Workplace Harassment and Civil Conduct. Nursing students should also review the RNAO Social Media Guidelines for Nurses

Copyright and Confidentiality

Before posting, make sure you are not breaking copyright law or sharing confidential information. This can include sharing embargoed materials, content and publications, or using copyrighted images. Support others by giving credit where it is due, tag other departments or organizations if you are sharing their articles or stories. Do not share your personal information online, including email addresses, phone numbers or anything else you would not want a wider public audience to see. Do not share images of patients or stories of patients that would be in breach of the nursing student code of conduct.

Teaching with Social Media

Individuals who wish to use social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or personal messaging application as educational technology tools, should review the University of Toronto’s Teaching with Social Media Guideline Tools beyond Quercus for teaching can be found on the Centre for Teaching and Innovation website.

The use of class or program specific hashtags to encourage discussions on social media is permitted, but keep in mind that all such discussions are in a public forum and not all students will be comfortable sharing information in this format. An alternate platform to engage in a closed forum discussion should be considered by viewing Tools Beyond Quercus from the Centre for Teaching and Innovation.


Ensure that the content you are posting is accurate, properly sourced, and free of typos and spelling errors. It is better to verify your post first instead of having to retract or correct it later. If you do make an error, try to correct it quickly and visibly.

Be social, timely and active

The best way to grow your own social media following is to post regularly and share content that is current and of interest to your audience. Like, retweet, and share your colleagues and other department’s posts, this builds a sense of community and helps to make you a valued social media community member.

In addition to these guidelines, your placement agencies, clinical partners, or employers may also have information on social media best practices. It is your responsibility to review them and adhere to them to protect yourself and your reputation.