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Professional nursing accountability is described by both professional nursing organizations and nursing education credentialing agencies as a core aspect that underpins professional nursing practice. Although accountability is foundational to professional practice, a review of the literature revealed no consistent language or definition regarding professional nursing accountability. Instead, the literature itself reveals that professional nursing accountability is challenging to both describe and define. The ambiguity surrounding how to define professional nursing accountability contributes to challenges associated with both teaching and evaluating student nurse accountability within nursing education curricula. This article provides a reliable and comprehensive definition of professional nursing accountability derived from a synthesis of the literature. Recommendations for nursing education practice and recommendations for nursing education research are proposed.


Originally published in Journal of Professional Nursing, 30 (1), 43-47. doi:10.1016/j.profnurs.2013.06.008.

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