Nursing Student Misconduct: Falsifying Clinical Hours

Nursing Program Challenges

Nursing programs are rigorous. Nursing programs challenge students not only to do their best but also to do their most, studying and learning the most within relatively short spans across terms and clinical assignments. The classroom and book learning stretches the nursing student's mind. The clinical courses stretch the nursing student's mind, body, and emotions, counting the long hours and numerous stresses. Clinical work is exciting. It can also be stressful, bringing challenges not only with learning, applying, and proving new skills but also with patient, peer, and supervisor relationships. Clinical work is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. And not all nursing students are quite up to clinical work's extra challenges or able to prove to their supervisor and others that they are meeting those challenges. If you face misconduct, academic progression, or professionalism charges in your nursing program, retain national school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to help defend and defeat those charges.

Falsifying Nursing Clinical Hours

A study on academic dishonesty among undergraduate nursing students, published in a clinical medical journal, concludes that “[a]cademic dishonesty amongst nursing students has become a common occurrence” due to the program's pressure and rigor. You are not alone if you feel that pressure. The study found that 84% of undergraduate nursing students feel the pressure to succeed academically. Another 74% of nursing students find limited time available to study. That combination means 71% of nursing students fear losing status among peers. Moreover, an extraordinary 71% of nursing students feel the negative impact of successful cheating. And when the question becomes what academic dishonesty are nursing students witnessing in clinical assignments, the study found that nursing students know that other students are “signing the clinical register but not reporting for duty or [are] leaving the assigned shift early but signing the normal time.” Falsifying clinical nursing hours can be a big deal in nursing student circles, as nursing chat boards confirm. The study reiterates that “a vast number of nursing students participate in academically dishonest behaviors.” If your nursing program has charged you with falsifying clinical hours, know that you are not alone in facing those allegations. Retain national school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to help you overcome those charges.

Nursing School Clinical Hours Requirements

Nursing programs must require substantial clinical hours to meet their educational goals and satisfy accrediting agencies. The federal government recognizes the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) as the national accrediting body for nursing programs. The CCNE's accreditation standards require that nursing programs having a direct care component must plan adequate clinical experiences to meet those care component educational goals. Nursing schools must meet the CCNE's accreditation requirements, including documenting nursing student clinical hours, to maintain their all-important accreditation. When you sign and certify your clinical hours, you create a record that accreditors may audit to approve or disapprove your nursing program's accreditation. Nursing programs take these accreditation requirements seriously. Duke University's leading School of Nursing, for example, requires nearly eight-hundred hours of clinical experience at sites in the Duke University Health System or other locations around the world. The equally prominent Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing similarly requires hundreds of hours of clinical coursework across every one of the five semesters of its Master of Science in Nursing entry program.

How Falsified Clinical Hours Issues Arise

The above study on academic dishonesty among undergraduate nursing students further articulates how falsified hours and other academic dishonesty issues arise among nursing students. Program pressures and cheating by other nursing students are two factors. But the study also finds that in some cases, nursing students are uncertain about what actions constitute academic dishonesty. Students may fail to distinguish completing required documentation, including patient charting and registering for full clinical hours, from completing the underlying performance. Behavioral personality traits also influence falsified clinical hours. Other influences include peer pressure, unproductive studies, inadequate moral growth, daring behavior not to get caught, the will to succeed by any means, low academic standing, and the financial and academic impacts of not completing courses. Inadequate time management and a lax clinical environment also cause nursing students to rationalize and justify actions they may realize are dishonest. Nursing programs find plenty of contributing factors to falsified clinical hours.

Nursing School Rules Against Falsified Hours

In their student codes of conduct, nursing programs routinely prohibit academic dishonesty, including falsifying clinical hours. The National Student Nurses' Association urges nursing programs to adopt its model Code of Ethics. That code requires nurses to be honest in all respects in their clinical course assignments. Prominent nursing programs like the University of Michigan School of Nursing accordingly adopt student codes of conduct requiring accurate entry of actual nursing hours. The University of Michigan School of Nursing undergraduate handbook, in several places, admonishes students that falsification of clinical data of any kind, which would include clinical hours registry logs, is a serious breach of academic honesty warranting punishment. The handbook contains detailed documentation procedures for students who miss clinical hours. Your nursing program will have rules against falsifying clinical hours. Those rules, typically included in the student code of conduct or student handbook, will either generally or specifically prohibit misrepresenting clini