A scene from the 1983 film Terms of Endearment earned actress Shirley MacLaine an Oscar as she played a fiercely protective Aurora Greenway demanding care from a seemingly uncaring or incompetent nurse. That scene reveals a more mundane reality from the nurse’s perspective — a staffing issue. The fictional nurse was juggling a number patients. Experts have long worried that patients’ quality of care can suffer depending on the number of nurses on the job. But, is it best to legally limit how many patients one nurse can care for? Or is it best to allow nurse staffing assignments to adjust as needed? That’s what Massachusetts voters will decide when they vote on Ballot Question One on election day in November.
Donna Kelly-Williams, a registered nurse at the Cambridge Hospital Birth Center, and president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. She is a proponent of yes for Question One.
Donna Glynn, is a registered nurse at the VA Boston Healthcare System and president of the American Nurses Association of Massachusetts. She is a proponent of no for Question One.