August 16, 2011
Reply by author Gallagher to Rosario Gallegos on “Moral Courage Amid Moral Distress: Strategies for Action” (September 30, 2010).
Dear Ms. Gallegos,
I would like to thank Rosario Gallegos for her letter. I can only agree that inadequate staffing will affect the quality and the safety of nurses' practice. Ms. Gallegos correctly points to the political and economic factors that impact on this situation. Those nurses who, as noted in Ms. Gallegos’ Letter, go to work to provide care in the best possible way despite the personal and legal risks, are indeed courageous. They should not, however, stand or feel alone in doing so.
There is an important role here for individual nurses to draw attention to deficits in staffing by completing incident forms and presenting these forms to their managers and the hospital executive every time they feel care is compromised by inadequate staffing. Nursing organisations also need both to lobby politicians for the resources nurses need to deliver dignifying care and to mobilise the media so they present the perspectives of committed nurses who often work under conditions of inadequate staffing.
Dr. Ann Gallagher, PhD, MA, PGCEA, Bsc, RMN, SRN