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The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing$
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Betty R. Ferrell and Nessa Coyle

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195333121

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333121.001.0001

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The Suffering of Nurses

The Suffering of Nurses

Chapter:
(p.86) (p.87) Chapter 4 The Suffering of Nurses
Source:
The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing
Author(s):

Betty R. Ferrell

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333121.003.0004

Bearing witness to suffering across these contexts exacts a toll on the witness — the nurse. This chapter is a discussion of nurses' own suffering. It explores the topic of the moral distress of nurses who witness futile care. It also discusses the distress and conflict nurses feel in inflicting “necessary” pain while providing care. Nurses, like patients, are first and foremost people. The professional work of nursing requires boundaries, self-knowledge, and personal awareness of one's own attitudes and feelings about the meaning of life and of death. Failure to care for oneself ultimately diminishes the ability of the nurse to witness or relieve the suffering of patients or their families. Providing care for others without caring for oneself is unsustainable.

Keywords:   moral distress, suffering, futile care, self-knowledge, nursing

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