Nursing Ethics pp 125-156 | Cite as

Virtue-Based Moral Decision-Making in Nursing Practice



I shall begin this chapter by summarizing several points made in Chapter 2. First, illness causes people to feel certain emotions, for example vulnerability, helplessness and powerlessness, and these feelings can be intensified through the process of hospitalization. Second, patients depend on nurses for help to meet their interests and needs and this is effectively achieved by means of the helping or therapeutic nurse-patient relationship. Third, nurses’ roles are multifaceted and difficult to generalize, however it is widely agreed that the development and sustenance of a helping nurse-patent relationship is a vital role of the nurse. Fourth, in essence nurses help to ensure that patients survive and fare well during illness and strive hard to enable their recovery from illness; or when dealing with terminally ill patients, nurses help to ensure patients have good deaths.1 Fifth, while illness forms only one aspect of a patient’s life nurses can view the patient’s illness in the form of a narrative. To understand the narrative, a nurse needs to converse with the patient and desire to listen to the patient’s lived experience of illness. This approach is in sharp contrast with the medical model. Sixth, according to samples of patients and patients’ relatives, being a ‘good’ nurse and providing ‘high-’ quality care includes such issues and themes as nurses spending time with patients, nurses getting to know patients and nurses listening to patients.


Moral Obligation Nurse Practice Virtue Ethic Moral Theory Moral Rule 
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  1. 6.
    T. L. Beauchamp & J. F. Childress, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 5th edn (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).Google Scholar
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    This is discussed in: V. Tschudin, Ethics in Nursing — The Caring Relationship, 3rd edn (Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann, 2003), pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Alan E. Armstrong 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Central LancashirePrestonUK

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