Nursing Ethics 5 (2):95-102 (1998)
AbstractQuality of nursing cannot be assessed in terms of performance referenced criteria, but only in terms of the personal qualities displayed in the performance. The key to improvement in practice may be the improvement of emotional and motivational tendencies. In essence, professional development implies personal development. Harré makes a distinction between ‘powers to do’ and ‘powers to be’ (a state of being). The former are the capacities that individuals acquire to perform their tasks and roles. Professional development therefore involves, first, the acquisition of the capacities necessary for the successful completion of a set of professional tasks (the powers to do). Secondly, it involves the acquisition of the appropriate emotions and motivations, and the theories about human nature and the conduct that underpins them (the powers to be). Therefore, these capacities cannot be derived from an analysis of tasks, since what are defined as tasks in the first place are determined by the exercise of such powers. The acquisition of attitudes constitutes a source of competent practice. Harré’s model of ‘personal identity’ provides a conceptual framework for thinking about the process of the acquisition of nursing competence and its relationship to differing views of nursing. Considerations relating to different priorities within Harré’s model make it possible to raise questions about the objectives of competence at different stages
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