Guidance on Professional Conduct for Nursing and Midwifery Students

Guidance on Professional Conduct for Nursing and Midwifery Students

Draft guidance on professional conduct for nursing and midwifery students

Section 1


This documentaims to provideguidance to nursing and midwifery students

on issues relating to conduct and professional behaviour. We hope that students, their mentors/practice teachers and academic staff/teachers will

find this guidance useful.

Section 2

About the NMC

The NMC (Nursing & Midwifery Council) is the UK regulator for two professions: nursing and midwifery. The powers of the NMC are detailed in the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001. The work of the NMC is governed by this and other associated legislation.

The core function of the NMC is to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public. It does this through maintaining a register of nurses and midwives eligible to practise in the UK and by setting standards for their education, training, conduct and performance.

The NMC register enables anyone to check the registered status of nurses and midwives. The Code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurse and midwives sets out the principles enshrined in nursing and midwifery practice. It is intended to support safe and effective practice, and is an important tool in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the public.

A registered nurse or midwife is required to adhere to the standards set by the NMC. On rare occasions, nurses and midwives fail to meet the professional standards expected of them. The NMC investigates complaints about the conduct, competence or fitness to practise of registered nurses and midwives.

This guidance is based on the standards set out in the Code and you will be working towards these standards during your pre-registration education programme. It is important that you have obtained and read a copy of the Code which is available from our website:

Section 3

Why is the guidance important?

The NMC sets standards for the length and content of pre-registration programmes, which take place in universities. Only nurses and midwives who have successfully completed a programme can apply to join the register.

During your pre-registration programme you will develop the skills and knowledge you need to become a registered nurse or midwife. It is an opportunity to learn about the conduct that the public expects from nurses and midwives.

When you have successfully completed a programme, the university will notify the NMC that you have met the required standards, have met the requirements of good health and good character, are ‘fit to practise’ and are eligible for entry on the register.

Good health is necessary to undertake practice as a nurse or a midwife. Good health means that a person must be capable of safe and effective practice without supervision. It does not mean the absence of any disability or health condition. Many disabled people and those with long-term health conditions are able to practise with or without adjustments to support their practice.

Good character is important as nurses and midwives must be honest and trustworthy. Good character is based on a person’s conduct, behaviour and attitude, as well as any convictions and cautions that are not considered compatible with professional registration and that might bring the profession into disrepute. A person’s character must be sufficiently good for them to be capable of safe and effective practice without supervision.

You can obtain further information from our publication: Guidance on good health and good character available on our website.

Being fit to practise means that you have the skills, knowledge, character and health to do your job safely and effectively. Your fitness to practise will be assessed during your programme and where there are concerns these will be investigated by the university. You should make sure that you are familiar with the student fitness to practise procedures within your university.

It is important that you are aware that your personal and professional conduct may have an impact on your fitness to practise. Your conduct may affect your ability to complete your programme and become a registered nurse or midwife. The purpose of this guidance is to advise on the personal and professional conduct expected of you as a nursing or midwifery student in order for you to be fit to practise.

Section 4

Your conduct as a nursing or midwifery student

a) Make the care of people your first concern, treating them as individuals and respecting their dignity

Treat people as individuals

  • You should treat people as individuals and respect their dignity
  • You should be polite, kind, caring and compassionate
  • You should not discriminate in any way against those you care for

Respect people’s confidentiality

  • You should respect people’s right to confidentiality
  • You should not knowingly disclose information to anyone who is not entitled to it
  • You should seek advice before disclosing information if you believe someone may be at risk of harm
  • You should request permission if you wish to use people’s information in your coursework or assessments
  • You should anonymise personal information that you use in your coursework or assessments
  • You should follow the guidelines or policy on confidentiality as set out by your university and placement provider
  • You should follow your university guidelines or policy on ethics when undertaking research

Collaborate with those in your care

  • You should listen to people and be responsive to their needs
  • You should communicate effectively and openly so that the message is always clear and understood
  • You should support people in caring for themselves to improve and maintain their health
  • You should be sensitive to people’s values and the need to have understandable health information to make choices
  • You should involve people, their families and carers in decisions about their care
  • You should speak out when there is a need to protect people

Ensure you gain consent

  • You should make sure that people know that you are a student
  • You should ensure you gain consent before you begin to provide care
  • You should respect the right of people to request care to be provided by a registered health professional

Maintain clear professional boundaries

  • You should refuse any gifts, favours or hospitality that might be interpreted as an attempt to gain preferential treatment
  • You should not ask for or accept loans from anyone for whom you provide care or anyone close to them
  • You should maintain clear sexual boundaries at all times with the people for whom you provide care, their families and carers

b)Work with others to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of those in your care, their families and carers, and the wider community

Work as part of a team

  • You should be aware of the roles and responsibilities of other people involved in providing healthcare
  • You should work co-operatively within teams and respect the skills, expertise and contributions from those involved with your education and training
  • You should treat all colleagues, team members and those with whom you work, fairly and without discrimination
  • You should inform your mentor/practice teacher or academic tutor/teacher if you believe that you, a colleague or anyone else may be putting someone at risk

c)Provide a high standard of practice and care at all times

Recognise and work within your limits of competence

  • You should only undertake care if you feel that you have the appropriate education and training
  • You should ensure that you are appropriately supervised and supported by a registered health professional
  • You should work with your mentor/practice educator and academic tutor/teacher to monitor the quality of your work and maintain the safety of people for whom you provide care
  • You should ask for help when necessary
  • You should seek help if your performance or judgement is affected by your health

Ensure your skills and knowledge are up to date

  • You are responsible for your own learning
  • You should follow the policy on attendance and submission of courseworkas set out by your university
  • You should follow the policy on attendance and completion of clinical assessments as set out by your university and placement provider
  • You should reflect on and respond constructively to feedback you are given
  • You should endeavour to provide care based on the best available evidence or best practice

Keep clear and accurate records

  • You should ensure that any entries you make in someone’s records are clear, accurate, legible, dated and timed
  • You should not tamper with original records in any way
  • You should ensure that you followlocal policy on the recording, handling and storage of records

d)Be open and honest, act with integrity and uphold the reputation of your profession

Be open and honest

  • You should be honest, trustworthy and have the integrity needed for professional practice
  • You should be honest and trustworthy when completing records and logs of your practice experience
  • You should not try to pass off other people’s work as your own
  • You should ensure that you reference other people’s work appropriately
  • You should make sure that you complete CVs and application forms truthfully and accurately
  • You should ensure that you are not influenced by any commercial incentives

Act with integrity

  • You should demonstrate a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity
  • You should adhere to the laws of the country in which you are undertaking your education and training programme
  • You should inform your university if you have been cautioned, charged or found guilty of a criminal offence
  • You should comply with the regulations of your university and placement provider

Deal with problems

  • You should show insight into the challenging role of being a nurse or midwife, including the reality of sometimes having to provide care in difficult circumstances
  • You should seek help immediately to put matters right if someone for whom you are providing care has suffered harm for any reason
  • You should seek help if people indicate that they are unhappy about their care or treatment

Uphold the reputation of the nursing and midwifery professions

  • You should be aware that your personal conduct may affect your ability to complete your education and training programme
  • You should ensure that your dress and personal appearance is appropriate for the environment in which you are providing care
  • You should maintain appropriate standards of personal behaviour so that the public has confidence in you

Section 5

Further information

We hope that you have found this guidance helpful in understanding the important responsibilities of a student.

If you need to discuss any of these issues with us please contact our advice centre on 020 7333 9333 or by email at .

If you would like to find out more about the work of the NMC and other useful information such as NMC publications and advice sheets, visit our website at

You can also contact us at the following address:

Nursing & Midwifery Council

23 Portland Place


W1 1PZ