Abstract Corporate and commercial values are inducing some healthcare organizations to prescribe a customer service model that reframes the provision of nursing care. In this paper it is argued that such a model is incommensurable with nursing conceived as a moral practice and ultimately
places nurses at risk. Based upon understanding from ongoing research on compassion fatigue, it is proposed that compassion fatigue as currently experienced by nurses may not arise predominantly from too great a demand for compassion, but rather from barriers to enacting compassionate care.
These barriers are often systemic. The paradigm shift in which healthcare environments are viewed as marketplaces rather than moral communities has the potential to radically affect the evolution of nursing as a discipline.