A moral profession: Nurse educators’ selected narratives of care and compassion

Roger Newham, Louise Terry, Siobhan Atherley, Sinead Hahessy, Babenko-Mould Yolanda, Marilyn Evans, Karen Ferguson, Graham Carr, SH Cedar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Lack of compassion is claimed to result in poor and sometimes harmful nursing care. Developing strategies to encourage compassionate caring behaviours are important because there is evidence to suggest a connection between having a moral orientation such as compassion and resulting caring behaviour in practice. Objective: This study aimed to articulate a clearer understanding of compassionate caring via nurse educators’ selection and use of published texts and film. Methodology: The study employed discourse analysis Participants and research context: 41 nurse educators working in universities in the UK (n=3), Ireland (n=1) and Canada (n=1) completed questionnaires on the narratives that shaped their understanding of care and compassion. Findings: The desire to understand others and how to care compassionately characterised educators’ choices. Most narratives were examples of kindness and compassion. 17 emphasised the importance of connecting with others as a central component of compassionate caring. 10 identified the burden of caring. 24 identified themes of abandonment and of failure to see the suffering person. 15 narratives showed a discourse of only showing compassion to those ‘deserving’ often understood as the suffering person doing enough to help themselves. Discussion: These findings are mostly consistent with work in moral philosophy emphasising the particular or context and perception or vision as well as the necessity of emotions. The narratives themselves are used by nurse educators to help explicate examples of caring and compassion (or its lack). Conclusion: To feel cared about people need to feel ‘visible’ as though they matter. Nurses need to be alert to problems that may arise if their ‘moral vision’ is influenced by ideas of desert and how much the patient is doing to help themselves.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNursing Ethics
Early online date18 Jan 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2017


  • moral vision
  • non-abandonment
  • compassion
  • caring
  • moral practice


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