Ethical Leadership in Nursing Education

Nurse leadership demands an ethical responsibility to both self and others. When nurse educators assume executive leadership roles, they also assume the ethical responsibilities and burdens associated with these positions. Ethical dilemmas faced by top leaders are typically complex, requiring strong skills in the areas of situational assessment, problem solving, and reflection. This module reviews the ethical obligations of academic nursing leaders and considers the harm, both organizational and personal, that unethical leaders might cause, including poor morale, organizational ineffectiveness, colleague distrust, and lack of commitment to ethical engagement.

At the end of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Explain why ethical leadership is important to organizational success.
  2. Discuss the significance of professional values for deans and program directors.
  3. Identify the characteristics of an ethical dean, director, or chair.

Author: Mary Ellen Smith Glasgow, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN and Michael J. Deem, PhD

Experts Interviewed:

  • Jennifer Lingler, PhD, MA, CRNP, FAAN
  • Felicia Stokes, JD, MA, RN
  • Angela Knackstedt, BSN, RN-BC

Leadership Development Modules
Sharpen your leadership skills using this on-demand series designed exclusively for nursing deans, faculty, and graduate students. Modules will enrich your understanding of key principles and practices needed for leaders to succeed in the academic arena. AACN has developed this series in conjunction with seasoned experts who offer guidance and practical strategies on how to navigate real-world challenges and amplify your effectiveness. Content is designed to stimulate fresh thinking and provide solutions to some of your most pressing challenges. This resource was developed for nursing professionals at all levels, including those aspiring to leadership roles.

Pricing and Continuing Education


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation. The entire module and assessment must be completed to earn contact hours. This module is approve 3 Nursing Continuing Professional Development Hours.

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