Nurses consistently rank among the most trusted professions in America. In fact, since 1999, they’ve ranked first in Gallup’s annual honesty and ethical standards poll every year except for one. 84% of Americans rated nurses as having high or very high ethical standards and honesty.
Second and third place in the poll went to two other healthcare professions - pharmacists and medical doctors. There are high standards of ethics in nursing, and for good reason.
Nurses and nurse practitioners are gaining more autonomy and independence. The profession as a whole is advancing and taking on a larger role in healthcare. The push for registered nurses to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is also helping improve patient outcomes and increase trust in the profession.
What Makes the Public Trust Nurses?
Attributes that influence the public’s trust in nurses include compassion, advocacy, clinical competency, moral duty, and the vulnerability of the patients they care for. Each of these aspects is heavily emphasized in nursing school, and even more so when pursuing advanced nursing degrees.
Patients and their loved ones are able to build trust in nurses when they see that their actions are compassionate, ethical, and in their best interests.
The Value of Trust in Nursing
The relationship between nurse and patient must have a foundation built on trust, and for several reasons. Hospitalization can be frightening, and patients may feel that they don’t have enough support or resources. It’s easy for patients to feel overwhelmed and intimidated.
Normally, people tend to form trusting relationships with people in equal positions. However, there is an unequal balance of power between the nurse and patient because of the patient’s vulnerability. Patients must be able to trust that they will be protected while they’re healing, and that their best interests will be pursued. Nurses, at their most basic definition, are patient advocates and have a duty to protect their patients.
It’s also important that nurses be perceived as honest and ethical because patients are more likely to trust the information and education they’re receiving from their nurse. If a patient feels that their nurse isn’t competent and trustworthy, they may be less likely to follow the instructions they’ve been given, which can lead to poor outcomes for the patient (possibly readmission or complications).
Trust Must be Central to Nursing Practice
Nurses uphold their moral duties to advocate for and protect the vulnerable during every shift they work. The public’s trust of nurses is worthy of respect. The demonstrated goodwill and compassion of many generations of nurses has allowed the public to establish a high level of trust in the profession.
Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University’s RN to BSN (RN-BSN) program values education on holistic care and patient trust, empowering nurses to continue the generations-long tradition of providing the most ethical, honest, and compassionate care.
Trust is hard won, easily lost, and very difficult to regain. Nurses should take pride in their valuable contribution to society and continue to nurture trust as a core value in their nursing practice. Both patient outcomes and the advancement of the profession depend on it!
Contact us to find out more about the RN to BSN program.
Mundinger, M.O., Kane, R.L., Lenz, E.R., et al. (2000). Primary care outcomes in patients treated by nurse practitioners or physicians: A randomized trial. JAMA. 2000;283(1):59–68. doi:10.1001/jama.283.1.59
Norman, Jim. (2016). Americans rate healthcare providers high on honesty, ethics. https://news.gallup.com/poll/200057/americans-rate-healthcare-providers-....
Rutherford, M. M. (2014). The value of trust to nursing. Nursing Economics, 32(6), 283+.