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Ask a Practice Consultant - Conduct Unbecoming

Ask a Practice Consultant
by CRNNS on October 1st, 2015

I have heard of the term conduct unbecoming in relation to a colleague who was acting in an unprofessional manner outside of the workplace. What is conduct unbecoming and can I really be held accountable for unprofessional actions outside of my place of employment?

Conduct unbecoming is defined in legislation as, “conduct in a member’s personal or private capacity that tends to bring discredit upon the nursing profession”.  This includes behavior in one’s private or personal life which is clearly inconsistent with the standard of integrity and professionalism expected of a registered nurse. Such conduct may reflect adversely on the nursing profession as a whole. If the conduct is such that knowledge of it would be likely to impair future clients’ trust in the nurse, CRNNS may be justified in taking disciplinary action.

Generally speaking however, CRNNS will not be concerned with the purely private or extra-professional activities of a nurse which do not bring into question the nurse’s professional integrity or competence.

Some examples of behaviour, which could be categorized as conduct unbecoming are described below:

  • Committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the nurse’ integrity or fitness as a nurse, such as offences related to the illegal sale of controlled drugs and substances.
  • Providing unauthorized medications or treatments to former clients or family members.
  • Using public social media platforms in a way that does not uphold public trust in the nursing profession. Examples could include posting comments that provide inaccurate information on treatments or medication or publically posting disparaging comments about colleagues.

As member of the nursing profession, we are viewed as one of the most trusted professions, as people look to RNs for support and advice both inside and outside the workplace. You may feel that what you do in your personal life outside of work hours is your own business and it is; however,  we encourage you to think about how your behaviour and actions affect how you are viewed as a professional.

If you need help navigating a situation related to this topic, or you have questions about how actions outside of work can affect you as a professional RN, we encourage you to contact a CRNNS Practice Consultant at

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