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Authors

  1. Erlen, Judith A.

Abstract

The persistent nursing shortage is challenging the values and beliefs of the nursing profession and causing nurses to ask how they can fulfill their ethical responsibilities to patients when there are an insufficient number and a maldistribution of nurses. Nurses are expressing job dissatisfaction, experiencing moral distress, and wondering about their inability to provide quality patient care. In this article, the author addresses the commitment to care for patients and the ethical dilemma with which nurses are grappling: caring for self versus caring for others. Recommendations for possible action include reenvisioning the profession of nursing, empowering nurses, providing support, and restructuring the work environment. Taken together, these actions have the potential to reduce the moral distress that nurses are experiencing and to enable them to honor their commitment to patient care.