The Importance of Removing Fear and Promoting Honesty and Integrity In Nursing

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As nurses we are given such trust and responsibility. Often people’s lives are in our hands. We a allowed to care for people in their most vulnerable states. And depending on your license level, becoming a nurse is as simple as completing a couple years in tech school and pass a computerized test. Somehow in that short amount of time and with a few electronic questions a computer screen, we are deemed competent to be a nurse.

I imagine that we just assume that people who want to be nurses have honesty and integrity.

nurses make the differenceBut let’s just be clear on a few things:

  • There isn’t an honesty and integrity 101 in nursing school.
  • At no point in nursing school are you given a test on your honesty.
  • There is no check off in nursing school that proves you have integrity.
  • You are completely responsible for your own honesty and integrity.

But as unfortunate and as scary as it may sound there is no way to really know if a nurse values honesty and integrity. We know there are liars in this world. We know that many people have little or no integrity. But we hope these people do not want to be or become nurses.

As nurses we have to hope that the nurses we work alongside have the honesty and integrity because it is a trait that is needed to ensure corners aren’t cut and patient’s aren’t care for. Can you imagine working along someone that you fear may be documenting care that he/she has not provided? What about working with a nurse that commits a med error and does not report it?

It happens.

I honestly think that the reason that many nurses “lie” on their documentation or avoid reporting errors is due to fear. Unfortunately many are afraid of repercussions from bringing light to their mistake. They are afraid that if they don’t document that they saw the patient on the hourly rounds they will received disciplinary action, even though they weren’t able to see a patient during that hour because they were busy with a complex wound dressing in another room. They are afraid that they may lose their jobs because they administered the wrong amount of medication due to a calculation error.

They cannot be truly honest because they are afraid for their jobs and their livelihood.

So what do we do as a profession to eliminate the fears? How do we encourage honesty and integrity?

We free nurses from fear for reporting making an honest mistake. We don’t punish nurses for not being document that they saw a patient in that hour when they weren’t able to. We get rid of the mentality of having to fill every blank with documentation. We take away the red from the chart! We eliminate a culture of fear and we promote true open door policies so that we can learn and grow both as individuals and as a profession.


In order to give patients the best care possible we have to eliminate fear in nurses to document the entire truth. We have have to teach nurses that they do not have to fill in every blank every time.We have to have understanding for human error. We have to promote a culture for all nurses that does not tolerate dishonesty and lack of integrity. We have to stop expecting perfection and instead have understanding for the underlying humanity we all must have in order to be able to practice as a nurse. We have to stop nurses from being afraid they are going to loose their jobs for doing the right thing.

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3 thoughts on “The Importance of Removing Fear and Promoting Honesty and Integrity In Nursing”

  1. Great post and topic, Brittney. I think there are individual and organizational responsibilities when it comes to honest safe care. It is so complicated and so important.

    We nurses have to feel safe to report errors and trust that organizations will seek out problems in the system rather than blame the nurse. I recently did a Root Cause Analysis with Bob Latino who is a Safety Engineer type at and CEO of Reliability Center, Inc. We analyzed a med error made by an RN and tried to bring some of these issues to light. I would love feedback here, via youtube or to my email. If you or readers are interested:


  2. Gypsy Nurse, RN

    I agree that a huge reason for lack of honesty is due to potential consequences. Nursing is a difficult field where our co-workers and peers will ‘throw us under the bus” simply to make themselves look better. I think if we can figure out how to get nurses to support each other and stand up for what is right….maybe there is a chance.

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