“Ethics is neither a luxury nor a hurdle to be cleared. It is central to decision-making and leadership,” said a quote by J. Rosenthal on the lecture’s first PowerPoint slide-show.

In the field of nursing, leadership and ethics work hand-in- hand to successfully create prominent medical leaders. With this in mind, one must apply this quote by the distinguished lecturer to their work ethics, asking, “How do we live it? How do we put it into practice?”

On October 21, 2009, Millersville University’s Department of Nursing presented the Xi Chi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, who featured the night’s distinguished lecturer, Patricia E. Thompson, RN, EdD, FAAN, and the chief executive officer of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. In the Lehr Dining Room, Gordinier Hall at 7 p.m., the chapter recognized its members for ‘‘Excellence in Nursing Practice Award’’ and ‘‘Community Leadership Award’’, just to name a couple.

The presentation of nursing awards for two recipients was conducted by Dr. Barbara Zimmerman, Chair for the Department of Nursing. Jeanne Pickett received the Carol Y. Phillips Undergraduate Nursing Award for outstanding scholastic achievement, excellence in nursing practice, and leadership ability. Barbara Poukish received the C. Virginia Palmer Graduate Nursing Award for outstanding scholastic achievement, excellence in nursing practice, and leadership ability.

The presentation of chapter awards for four recipients was conducted by Marc Mione, President-elect and Chair of the Awards Committee. Connie Metzler received the Excellence in Nursing Practice Award, Water Street Health Services received the Community Leadership Award, accepted by Gale Thomason, Executive Director, Kelli Lingg received the Mentor Award, and Leslie Dean received the first Annual Xi Chi Scholarship Award.

The distinguished lecturer, Patricia E. Thompson, is a pediatric nurse, university administrator and past Honor Society president. She led the Honor Society during a period of unprecedented global expansion. She directs the 134,000 member organization as it moves boldly to develop nurse leaders around the world.

Dr. Thompson, the Honor Society’s chief executive officer since November 2007, was previously associate dean for academic programs at the College of Nursing, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. An Honor Society for more than 30 years, Dr. Thompson has served in many volunteer leadership roles, including president (1991-2001) and chair of the board of directors of both the International Honor Society of Nursing Building Corporation, and Nursing Knowledge International, Honor Society subsidiaries. She is passionate about the Honor Society and believes the organization accomplishes its goals. “It is an exciting time to be a member of the Honor Society, when our leadership, scholarship, and knowledge offerings are the pinnacle of professional development for the nurses and global communities they serve,” Dr. Thompson says, “Volunteer, get involved, and you will receive so much more back, both professionally and personally, than you give.”

Dr. Thompson presented the audience with her lecture titled, “Ethics in Nursing Leadership.” In the field of nursing, there are multiple ethics a nurse must incorporate into their professional and personal lives. Nursing discipline highlights core values and professional standards. Ethical principles highlight respect, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, veracity, and fidelity. Maintaining ethical boundaries is a constant challenge. This is the reason why nurse leaders are necessary, for their role affects another individual’s personal life, act as a role model, and ultimately lead others.

John C. Maxwell’s book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” is a point of reference for Dr. Thompson’s lecture. She highlighted five out of the 21 laws of leadership. The first is the Law of Navigation, which states anyone can steer
the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. The second is the Law of Priorities, which states that leaders must understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment. The third is the Law of Addition, that states leaders add value by serving others. The fourth is the Law of Empowerment that states only secure leaders give power to others. The last is the Law of Legacy, which states that a leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.

There are also three tools to measure ethics in a health care workplace. The first is Hospital Ethical Climate Survey, which measures nurses’ perception of the ethical climate in the work setting. The second is Ethics Environment Questionnair, which measures opinions of health care workers about ethics in their clinical practice organization. The third and last is Ethical Issues Scale, which determines how frequently nurses experience ethical issues in practice.

The strategies for success that can affect ethics are an interest of staff and faculty alike, trust of one another, formal leadership support, access to resources, and systematic evaluation.

American Nurses Association and International Council of Nurses are prime examples of professional code of ethics. However, there comes a point when it is an ethical dilemma conflict between personal, professional, and institutional values. Leaders are consistently pursued with questions during this dilemma. What are my goals? What are my core values? What tradeoffs am I willing to make?

The answers come in the form of ethical management decisions: Identify the issue and identify stake-holders. Listing possible solutions and answers is a start for evaluating each from a stake-holder perspective and assessing the “most good” and “least harm” for today and the future. Also, reviewing the organization’s decision making rules, make a decision, and evaluate.

The global nurse leader, Sigma Theta Tau International 2007-2009 Leadership Development Task Force, is empowered to think and act with a global mindset, bringing the nursing perspective to influence the work of international and multinational health endeavors. They present knowledge and skills of ethical global nurse leaders: cross cultural awareness and understanding, multinational partnership and relationship development, political and ethical decision making, international
health financing, policies, and practices; community action assessment, research, and analysis; global communication strategies, and global futuring. The nursing’s role in affecting change is global.

Be the best for the world. Act with service and grace. Make a contribution through action. Dr. Thompson left her audience with another piece of advice, addressing the majority of her audience members. “I challenge everyone in this room; don’t be the best nurse in the world; be the best nurse for the world.”