When hospitals struggle to make ends meet, nurse staffing frequently takes a hit because nurses make up the largest portion of labor costs, oncology nurse Theresa Brown writes. Complicated health care accounting systems make it hard to conduct a definitive cost-benefit analysis of nurse staffing, but studies show that having enough nurses can substantially reduce hospital costs. In the end, the discussion comes down not to money, but to alleviating suffering and helping patients get well. "We can be where we are needed, but only if there are enough of us," she writes.

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