Human rights education for nurses: An example from Finland

Hanna Hopia, Ilsa Lottes


Background and objective: Nurses deal with complex human rights issues arising from difficult situations and ethical dilemmas involving patients, relatives, and health care professionals. Human rights education can enable nurses to understand principles of human rights and apply them at work in their efforts to provide high quality care. The objective for this study was to describe how human rights material was integrated into a professional ethics course for master degree nursing students and to facilitate nurse educators’ efforts to include such material in their courses.

Methods: In this qualitative study, data consisted of responses to a human rights assignment by 23 nursing students at a university of applied sciences in Finland. Thematic analysis was used to identify patterns and themes from the assignment.

Results: Participants’ consensus was that human rights education should be part of nursing curricula. Students described what they learned, identified similarities and differences between human rights principles and ethical codes, gave examples applying human rights principles to their work, and stated how they could better protect human rights of nurses and their patients.

Conclusions: Learning about human rights reinforces nurses’ knowledge and application of ethical codes and increases their awareness of factors necessary for quality care. 

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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