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Work as Freedom: Nursing

This is a chapter review of John Budd’s Though of Work. Work as Freedom shows the modern understanding of work within the Western tradition. Budd argues that work should be free from nature and compulsion from others (Budd, 2011). In this sense, work should be a source of nurses’ freedom and individual rights.

Given the Western anthropocentric belief systems, nature should offer human satisfaction. These beliefs are based on scientific discoveries, which show that humans can conquer nature. Nursing profession, therefore, shows human creativity over nature.

Budd reflects on the argument that John Locke made in the 17th century about work. Locke regarded work as freedom from coercion and others because it brought about ownership of private equity and economic liberalism. Nurses as professionals are free to offer their services and receive fair compensation. Adam Smith reinforced the idea of work as an economic service for sale. In other words, nursing is a productive service with economic value to nurses and provides quality healthcare outcomes for patients.

Nurses have the liberty to conceptualise and commercialise their professional services. Nursing, therefore, has become a form of free profession that any individual can join for economic benefits and personal development.

Generally, nursing as a profession may not be desirable for many people because it is laborious, less fun and demanding. As a result, many nurses have reported work-related stress and other challenges. Hence, David Spencer calls for less work to overcome overwork, unemployment and improve quality of life (Spencer, 2014). Nevertheless, nurses must tolerate work for their personal benefits and as a means of survival. Today, healthcare facilities offer incentives to motivate nurses to work and deliver high quality services to patients.

Work as freedom reflects self-interests, self-worth and self-esteem of nurses to achieve and master their roles. In this sense, nursing profession has become a source of personal fulfilment and mental health for nurses. Today, contemporary scholars have focused on how employers can enhance job satisfaction. As a result, human resource managers in healthcare facilities strive to meet needs of nurse to ensure that they perform better in healthcare service provision.

Heterodox critics have rejected the notion that work is a commodity and workers are merely factors of production. They posit that workers have their rights, human dignity and are entitled to self-determination regardless of the market conditions. As a result, there are several nursing professional bodies to promote welfare of nurses and nursing as a profession. Hence, there are strict labour laws, political and social interventions, as well as ethical standards to protect nurses. Nursing should meet physical, emotional and cognitive needs of nurses.

The contemporary nursing leadership aims to ensure that work and citizenship are consistent, workplaces promote participatory democracy and independent citizenship, as well as individual responsibility. Therefore, nurses have been given greater roles to influence and change nursing practices positively. This approach has promoted greater participation of nurses in decision-making processes. Such roles aim to limit poor practices in healthcare institutions, improve quality of healthcare outcomes and enhance nurses’ well-being.

Work as freedom promotes nurses’ liberty by allowing them to control their duties. Nursing establishes individual status and provides a sense of identity to nurses. Consequently, nurses are identified by their roles and contributions in the field of nursing. Nurses strive to understand themselves and their roles in the broader society.


Budd, J. W. (2011). The Thought of Work. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Spencer, D. (2014). The Case for Working Less. Web.

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