Reviewing and integrating lived experiences in nursing with theory and research, The Moral Work of Nursing is a blend of life story and overview of factors affecting ethical nursing practice during the past 50 years. Reflecting on her 35-year nursing career, studies in health care ethics in the 1980s and recent developments in Canadian health care, Magnussen invites readers to ponder moral questions about the work of nurses in community, hospital and long term care settings.
Nurses’ moral work requires reflection on practice, sensitivity to moral issues, courage to ask questions and take action when patient care is compromised. When concerns are not taken seriously, and systemic or other constraints make it difficult or impossible to act morally, nurses experience moral distress. They are torn between their professional commitment to safe, competent, compassionate and ethical care for patients/clients, and their personal responsibility to remain healthy and fit to practice in ever-changing health care environments.