Nurse Keith: The Importance of Accountability

Nurse Keith: The Importance of Accountability

Whether you’re in nursing school or working as a professional nurse, being held accountable for your goals is a powerful means to fulfilling your aspirations. Accountability counts in the education process, career development, and other aspects of your personal and professional life. How are you held accountable? 

Accountability in nursing education

When you’re in a nursing degree program, accountability is measured by handing your assignments in on time, your grade point average, fulfilling obligations to peers during group projects, and being fully present during clinical training. Nursing education provides many avenues for being held accountable, and woe to those who shirk their responsibilities during their nursing education.

In some programs, rote memorization may call for intensive studying and application of brain power, and study groups can be very helpful in this regard. These groups require a great deal of individual and collective accountability, forming bonds of trust that amplify everyone’s efforts in the interest of educational success.

Many of us have had study buddies in nursing school; this is a very important form of one-to-one accountability that occurs during almost any level of nursing education.

Clinical accountability

As a clinical nurse, you are accountable to your patients and their families, your colleagues, the nurse licensing board, your employer, and any organizations that have awarded you certification. You can indeed hold the balance of someone’s life in your hands, and a nurse who fails the ultimate test of accountability runs the risk of losing her license or being held legally liable for an error or oversight.

In high-stress clinical situations, finding accountability buddies who can hold your feet to the fire is very important. We all need allies at work, and an accountability buddy is a fellow clinician to whom you can turn for support and motivation.

In most settings, a second nurse is needed to double-check doses of certain medications like insulin or to perform accuracy checks during the hanging of blood products. This is a crucial form of clinical accountability that cannot be ignored.

Nursing career accountability

In terms of your career trajectory and goals, having a trusted colleague who can be your accountability buddy can also be a satisfying form of support.

Let’s say that you and your buddy work in the ER and you both want to become flight nurses. Achieving your flight nurse certification is a demanding process that spans a number of years; your mutual goal is an opportunity for very powerful and effective accountability for both parties. Yes, an accountability partner can make sure you’re giving the right dose of insulin; but he or she can also be your partner in moving forward in terms of the macro vision of your nursing career.


Finally, you are indeed your own best accountability partner; in the end, it all comes down to you. Your buddies and colleagues can cajole and push you all they can, but you have to eventually do the work to get things done.

We can all be our own best friends and worst enemies, so holding ourselves accountable for our goals and aspirations is one of the ultimate ways to befriend ourselves and make choices that are positive, forward-thinking, and consistent with who we are, what we want, and who we want to become.

Self-accountability and effective accountability partners can be central to success and fulfillment.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist for With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at

Empower yourself with knowledge through an online RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees, including programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in case managementinfection control, and executive leadership.


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