Economism, Efficiency, and the Moral Ecology of Good Nursing Practice

Sara M. Weiss, Ruth E. Malone, Joseph R. Merighi, Patricia Benner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The free-market rhetoric dominating health-policy discussions today frames health-care goods and services as commodities that consumers will or will not buy at a given price. Health-care systems are being redesigned and hospitals restructured with a view to increased efficiency and productivity. Drawing on the experiences of clinical nurses in the United States, this paper shows how the application of economism to nursing may severely disrupt the ecology of good practice, leading to difficulties in meeting minimal standards of nursing care and severely constraining the acts of compassion called for by the human experiences of illness, loss, and death. Concerns about moral responsibility and conflicts between institutional and nursing goals are described. Increasing mistrust of health-care systems on the part of practitioners, patients, and families suggests that it is time to attend closely to the moral ecology of caring practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-119
Number of pages25
JournalCanadian Journal of Nursing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2002


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