For nineteen years, Americans have ranked nursing as the No. 1 most honest and ethical profession, according to an annual Gallup poll. Nurses outrank physicians, teachers, pharmacists, judges and even members of the clergy.
The integrity of nursing is also one of the few things Americans across the political spectrum agree upon, with democrat and republican respondents choosing nurses as No. 1 in near-equal measure.
The bottom line is people from all walks of life trust nurses with their lives. But what is it about nurses that foster such a deep sense of faith and confidence? In honor of nurses’ week, we’re delving into a few reasons people consistently rank nursing as the most trusted profession in the country.
Nurses Act as Advocates for Patient Comfort
The cold, sterile, fluorescent-lit environment of hospitals are not spaces most of us associate with comfort, and it’s often nurses who provide a human element amidst these otherwise unpleasant experiences. In addition to bringing you a cup of water when you’re thirsty and adjusting your pillows, nurses also act as their patients’ advocates.
From discussing patient comfort products to relaying patient concerns to physicians, nurses are often seen as patients’ champions — the ones looking out for their immediate well-being while physicians focus on diagnosing them and identifying a treatment plan. And while physicians are also ranked as one of the most trusted professionals, nurses often outrank them in part because they address patients’ most basic needs while also preserving their dignity.
Nurses are Leading the Way in Patient-Centered Care
Over the past several years, hospitals and other healthcare organizations have been striving to increase patient satisfaction by adopting a more patient-centered approach. Rather than creating care plans behind closed doors, patient-centered care urges healthcare organizations to empower patients by including them in the process and treating them with dignity and respect.
But great nurses were leveraging patient-centered approaches long before the buzzword began circulating in medical journals and hospital board meetings. And once patient satisfaction became a top priority within hospitals, nurses were entrusted with the lion’s share of the work. So, it’s no surprise that many healthcare organizations have placed nurses in charge of executing their patient-centered strategy.
In fact, a study published by Applied Nursing Research suggested nurse-led practices experienced fewer barriers when transitioning to patient-centered models.
Nurses are There During People’s Most Vulnerable Moments
Of all the heart-wrenching, harrowing stories from the frontlines throughout the pandemic, many of the most powerful accounts came from nurses. Stories of nurses holding up tablets while patients said goodbye to loved ones, standing vigil over patients’ bedsides as they succumbed to the virus and even returning to work each day despite PPE shortages, are all stark examples of the sorts of things nurses have always done.
“The world watched as nurses lost numerous patients and colleagues to a highly communicable, deadly virus while trying to protect and preserve their communities with limited resources and support,” said Ernest Grant, RN, Ph.D., president of the American Nurses Association, in an article for Nursing World. “Nevertheless, through it all, nurses have consistently proven they are resilient, selfless and compassionate, risking their health and safety for the common good.”
From giving birth or preparing for life-saving surgery to fighting cancer or hearing bad news, when people face the most frightening and difficult moments of their lives, nurses are there to offer support, comfort and compassion.
Nurses Put in More Facetime than Most Other Healthcare Professionals
Nurses spend more than twice as much of their time with patients as physicians, according to one study in the American Journal of Medicine. This means more time fielding questions, clarifying physician directives and ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and care plans.
It stands to reason that people trust nurses above other healthcare workers because they see their nurses as familiar faces. After all, the more time you spend with someone, and the more you’ve built a rapport, the more likely you are to trust them.
As author, speaker and American Academy of Nursing fellow Donna Wilk Cardillo said best, “Nurses are the heart of healthcare.” And as we celebrate Nurses Week after a year in which nurses proved even more essential than they were before, may we all take a moment to show our appreciation and gratitude for the nurses in our lives.