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  1. Maier-Lorentz, Madeline M. MSN, RN


Staff educators recognize the importance of affective competency for effective nursing practice. Inservice programs must include affective learning with objectives stated in measurable terms. Staff educators often express frustration in developing affective objectives and evaluating the learning outcome because attitudes and feelings are usually inferred from observations. This article presents affective learning objectives for a gerontological nursing inservice program and a rating scale that measures attitudes to evaluate the learning outcome.


Nursing is characterized as a humanistic and caring profession. Certain competencies are required of practicing nurses to provide care in a humanistic and caring manner. These are affective competencies, relating to the use of moral reasoning in ethical decision making and the development of a personal value system that guides nurses in making judgments about matters that are concerned with ethical issues. Such dilemmas are increasing in daily nursing practice because of the complex nature of society and the ever-growing intricate problems that stem from the use of modern medical technology.


Nurses are encountering various moral and ethical conflicts, such as euthanasia, organ donation, and health rationing, which mandate moral reasoning for a satisfactory resolution of these difficult problems. This implies that nurses have critical thinking skills in order to analyze and interpret a moral dilemma and determine an appropriate course of action for resolving these problems. Decision making concerning moral and ethical dilemmas requires affective competency. Affective competency development must be an integral part of nursing education to give nurses these necessary skills. Nurse educators must design a deliberate protocol for teaching and evaluating affective competencies. Nurse educators must also recognize the need for students to learn equally as well in the affective domain as in the cognitive and psychomotor domains.