Nurses are Still the Most Trusted Professionals
Guess what nurses? Your patients believe in you!
Long hours. Critical thinking. Problem-solving. Compassion. Hard conversations. All the research. Lifelong learning. My fellow nurses, your commitment to your work and everything you stand for as a nurse is seen by your patients and your communities. All of it comes together and manifests into a single, unbelievably important value: trust.
The Gallup Poll Social Series Findings
Your patients and communities trust in you. It cannot be emphasized enough how important that is, and how beautiful it is to be honored with that trust. The Gallup Poll Social Series has released its findings for the year of 2019, and nurses have been found by the people to be the highest of all other professions in question in matters of honesty and ethics.
Nurses ranked higher in matters of honesty and ethics by a fairly large margin over other professions. In fact, 85 percent answered with “very high” or “high” when asked, “Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields — very high, high, average, low, or very low?” The next highest-ranked professions were; engineers coming in at 66 percent, medical doctors at 65 percent, pharmacists at 64percent, and dentists at 61 percent.
For 17 years consecutively, nurses have ranked highest in this category, and with the exception of the year 2004, at an encouraging 80 percent or higher. In 2004 we ranked at 79 percent and were still ranked highest of the professions in question.
The poll asks about several other professions: politicians and salespersons are ranked among the lowest. (I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere, but I won’t stoop to it.)
What is the Gallup Poll Social Series?
The Gallup Poll Social Series conducts interviews with a little over 1,000 randomly selected adults living via telephone. These adults hail from all over our nation, including all 50 U.S. states and the District of Colombia. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, depending on the language preference of the adult being surveyed.
A Little History About our Code of Ethics
The profession of nursing has not always had a code of ethics. Our profession’s first official code of ethics was established in 1950. So what did nurses subscribe to, as a guide before then? The Nightingale Pledge.
In 1893, the Nightingale Pledge began giving a sense of unity and structure to the nursing profession. It was changed slightly in 1935. Odds are, one of these versions was read at your graduation. Do you remember? Here’s the 1935 version:
“I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practise my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping, and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavour to aid the physician in his work, and as a ‘missioner of health’ I will dedicate myself to devoted service to human welfare.”
Our code has been revised several times since 1950. As our society changes and our professional duties change, so too will our code continue to change. The last revision, Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements can be found here. Our code of ethics is a rigorous one. All nine of the provisions are as important as any other. And our subscription to them is what has given our communities the confidence to trust in our abilities, and in us.
Well, the point isn’t actually to win. The point I am trying to hammer home, (is it working?) is that your commitment to the code is working, and has been working for a long time! When our patients trust us, they are more likely to follow our guidance.
With trust, those painful conversations are no less painful but are purer because they aren’t further marred by feelings of guilt or feelings of deception. With trust, our communities are more likely to engage in our efforts of preventative medicine. Our power as advocates for our patients is strong because we have established that trust.
Nursing Work is Hard
I don’t have to tell you that being a nurse is not an easy job. The studying required to become a nurse is rigorous in and of itself. The university degrees, the licensing, the certifications for specializations: they all require focus, time, energy, and money. Furthermore, the continuous learning required to stay abreast of changes in medical technology, and changes in the way we treat injuries and illnesses is no small endeavor either.
Nurses work with so many other disciplines in the medical field. Sometimes those colleagues are difficult to communicate with. Sometimes our professional opinions and recommendations are not met with the respectful ear they deserve. Yet, knowing that our patients place their trust so strongly in us, doesn’t that make some of those burdens a bit easier to bear? Look to your small victories with patients or colleagues, and the small joys that come your way while on shift for comfort on those days that just seem so hard.
2020 is the Year of the Nurse
Yes, surely you’ve heard by now, we are being celebrated! All. Year. Long.
This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, and the World Health Assembly has dedicated 2020 to be the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, worldwide. This worldwide campaign aims to celebrate nurses and their stories and advocate for governments all over the world to invest in the growth of the workforce.
Get involved in local campaigns or follow your professional nursing organization to see how they are celebrating nurses this year. Look for and use #yearofthenurse, #nurses2020, #thankyounurse to be inspired. You are doing great, and your communities value you.