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The values of nursing arise from a concern with human flourishing. If the desire to become a nurse is a reflection of an aspiration to care for others in need then we should anticipate that those who choose to nurse have a tendency towards the values we would normally associate with a caring profession (care, compassion, perhaps altruism, and so on). However, these values require a secure base if they are not to succumb to the corrupting pressures of the increasingly instrumental nature of the values of the institutions in which healthcare in general and nursing in particular takes place. One way of securing a base for withstanding the corrupting influences of the institution is to understand nursing as a practice in the sense in which Alasdair MacIntyre uses that term. In this brief paper I will outline ways in which the managerial imperative of meeting targets is both distorting practice and undermining nursing's values. I conclude that understanding nursing as a MacIntyrean practice provides a refuge from what might otherwise be overwhelming pressures for nurses to adopt instrumental values to the detriment of professional caring values.
Institute for Philosophical Nursing Research, University of Alberta, 3rd Floor Clincal Sciences Building, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2G3, Canada, email@example.com.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Medicine, health care, and philosophy
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