What part does university play in the development of a caring character disposition for nurses? Some theoretical, historical and empirical considerations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



This article explores how nurses learn to care and in particular, what higher education adds to that learning. Does it leave nursing graduates resentful of the more menial aspects of nursing, or ?too posh to wash? (Beer, 2013; Hall, 2004) and if so, does that matter? Ultimately, the discussion reveals confusion over the role of the nurse in health care practice today, ambivalence from nurses themselves about the contribution higher education makes to their preparation for the caring aspects of their practice, and different conceptions of what it means to care in nursing. Grounding this discussion in a theoretical framework that links Tronto's ethic of care, Eraut's typology of knowledge and an Aristotelian understanding of phronesis, or practical wisdom, I argue for a greater emphasis within nurse education on the development and importance of character and virtue both in university and whilst on placement.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Research in Character Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Ethics, Higher education, Theory, Professional development, Learning, Health services, Professions, Nursing care, Nursing education, Nurses, Nursing, 21st Century