The moral integrity of nursing students in two-year colleges
Wirtz, Ellen Frances
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Moral integrity development and professional decision making ability is a vital characteristic in nurses. A review of the literature revealed that while the moral development of baccalaureate nursing students had been investigated, there was little data investigating the variables affecting the moral development of nursing students in two-year colleges. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate if age, gender, prior work experience in the health care field, prior college experience and grade point average made a difference in the moral development of nursing students in two-year colleges at the beginning and at the end of their nursing programs. The cognitive development theory of Piaget, the moral development theory of Kohlberg, Gilligan's theory of the moral development in women and Parse's nursing theory of human becoming formed the framework for this research.A cross sectional cluster sample of first term and final term nursing students enrolled at two year colleges were tested using Rest's Defining Issues Test - 2 (DIT - 2) to measure moral development. The sample included 156 first term nursing students and 144 final term nursing students currently enrolled at eight, two-year colleges in the Pacific northwest region of the United States. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance were used to investigate the difference in moral development when considering these independent variables: term in program, age, gender, prior work experience in the health care setting, prior college experience and grade point average. Results indicated moral development was different in first term nursing students compared with final term nursing students at two-year colleges. Age and prior college experience were significant independent variables in moral development while gender, prior work experience in the health care setting and grade point average were not found to be significant variables.