Nursing Ethics 19 (6):838-848 (2012)
The aim of this study was to get a deeper understanding of student nurses’ experiences of personal caring ethics by reflection on caring encounters with patients in clinical practice, ethical caring ideals, ethical problems, and sources for inner strength that give courage to practice good caring. In all, 24 Scandinavian student nurses participated voluntarily in an interview study. The interviews were analyzed within a phenomenological–hermeneutical approach and revealed three themes. The students found themselves in two different states of vulnerability: one in which they were overwhelmed by their vulnerability and began to suffer themselves and the other where their vulnerability became a source of development with focus on the patient. The students’ ethical caring ideals served as fixed reference points in their ethical development, but their ideals were at risk of decline. The students reflected on the barriers for performing ethical care and nurtured their ethical ideals by providing ethical care in secret. Caring in secret occurred also when student nurses did not experience a shared ethos
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