Begley AM. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2010; 16: 525–532
On being a good nurse: Reflections on the past and preparing for the future
The objectives of this paper include reflecting on the attributes of the ‘good’ nurse in the past, outlining thematically the essential attributes (virtues) required by the ‘good’ nurse today and presenting an original 4-point framework for ethics in practice. Although there is no doubt that nurses in the past were highly professional, the culture within which they practiced tended to stifle the emergence of autonomy, assertiveness, advocacy and accountability.
An original table of contemporary attributes, which is congruent with a neo Aristotelian virtue ethical approach, is arranged in themes of Intellectual and Practical Attributes, Dispositional Attributes and Moral Attributes. A framework for professional practice, the ‘Four As’ is then extrapolated from these themes. These four key professional attributes, autonomy, advocacy, accountability and assertiveness, along with the virtues listed in the themes, exemplify the ‘good’ nurse and are identified as the linchpins of modern professional ethics and good conduct.