Conflicts and con-fusions confounding compassion in acute care: Creating dialogical moral space

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Jones, Jenny
Strube, Petra
Mitchell, Marion
Henderson, Amanda
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2019
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Abstract

Background: Compassion, understood as empathy for another who is experiencing physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual suffering, is an essential element of our shared understandings of nursing and the constitution of the professional nurse.

Theoretical foundation: Charles Taylor account of ethics which concerns ‘what or who is it good to be’ rather than the predominant analytical moral philosophy approach which concentrates on ‘what ought one to do’ is the core concern of this discussion. An ontological appreciation of our shared human condition is the premise upon which the discussion is based.

Discussion: This article proposes that concept by opening a dialogical space, nurses can engage in reflection and sense making wherein they explore individually and collectively the conflicts and confusions encountered in their day-to-day work. Through their dialogues, nurses – individually and collectively – orient and reorient themselves and each other towards what they see as meaningful and purposeful in their lives and in doing so they are well positioned to reaffirm their commitment to compassion as a value which both anchors and orients their day-to-day work.

Implications: The provision of opportunities in the workplace, in the form of dialogue, to articulate often unspoken assumptions and frameworks in which nursing work is carried out can not only initiate the building of pathways of support but also assist nurses reaffirm their compassion – arguably the essence of their nursing practice.

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Nursing Ethics
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Nursing
Applied ethics
Applied ethics not elsewhere classified
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