Nurse Safety: Have We Addressed the Risks?
by Michal Kelman in response to Caring for Those Who Care: A Tribute to Nurses and Their Safety Mary Foley, MS, RN (September 30, 2004)
I am responding to the Nurse Safety article titled, "Caring for Those Who Care: A Tribute to Nurses and Their Safety." I am currently attending an Accelerated Baccalaureate Degree Nursing Program. As I immerse myself ever more deeply into my chosen profession, I am constantly met with new examples of why nurses truly are paradigms of care and selfless giving. However, I am also forced to face some of the more concerning aspects of nursing.
The physical and emotional dangers of nursing are self-evident and undeniable. Yet I've often been troubled to see that nurses consider the lack of nurse safety as unavoidable and unalterable. Nearly every nurse I've worked with has lamented over the dangers inherent in nursing, yet none ever spoke of a plan to change the system. I applaud Ms. Foley for her comprehensive description of the issue of nurse safety as it truly is: an unfortunate situation that can and should be corrected. Nurses have always been known to be self-sacrificing, to put their patient's needs above their own, but in this case, as Ms. Foley so aptly explains: "nurses must also focus on taking care of themselves, so they are able both to continue providing quality care for their patients and to maintain the profession's ability to recruit and retain new nurses" (Foley, 2004, para. 1). Even if we as nurses are not willing to speak up about the lack of nurse safety for ourselves, it behooves us to stand up for this elementary right for the sake of our patients and for the sake of our profession.
In addition, I particularly appreciated Ms. Foley's section titled, "The Policy and Politics of Health and Safety." Most likely due to the selflessness inherent in our profession, nurses are often hesitant to voice their opinions on a political level; we fail to utilize our power of numbers in the political arena. I heartily agree with Ms. Foley's proposal that the most effective strategy to make nursing a safe profession is to support our state and national professional nursing organizations, such as the ANA, and to use all possible venues, such as the media, to get our message across. If we unite together as one voice, we can move mountains.
Once again, I commend Ms. Foley for reminding nurses that the dangers of nursing do not have to be a given, and that we do have the power to bring about a change for the better.
Michal Kelman, BA
College of Nursing
The State University of New York (SUNY)
Downstate Medical Center