We nurses have a long-standing position as the most trusted profession in America. Say you’re a nurse and right away people’s faces light up. At the same time, it is not well understood what nurses do, and the media is rife with misconceptions.
The question posed to several high-profile nurses was:
Here are their answers:
The complexity of what we do is certainly not well understood. It’s complicated, right?
Joan Ekstrom Spitrey, a clinical nurse instructor from the site theNurseTeacher, who works tirelessly to educate student nurses, says:
“Overall, I think the public has a very favorable opinion of nurses, despite the fact they may not know everything that we do and the education and knowledge we have acquired. (And most opinion polls agree on this fact – still America’s most trusted profession!) People are usually very surprised once they learn all that really goes into a nurse’s day. But, what they do know, is that the nurse is the one at the bedside, holding their hand, explaining what the doctor just said and celebrating their victories and setbacks. Nurses are the trusted stranger – just by virtue of saying, “Hi, I am going to be your nurse today” – they trust us immediately. After that, it is our job to uphold the trust and not fail them at the time of their greatest need.”
Most every writer says nurses are seen as trust-worthy. And respected.
But being trusted is not enough to focus attention and garner greater resources for nurses, and ultimately, patients. I wrote a piece to try to answer the question “What do nurses do?” and ended with “We provide safe passage.” But that doesn’t go far enough and is not clear enough.
What do you say is the public’s perception of nurses? And how do we close the gap between perception and reality? Are nurses seen as Waitresses with Stethoscopes?
Until next time friend,
You can also come visit me at Ask Nurse Beth career column at allnurses.com for all kinds of entertaining and informative career questions and answers, and to submit your own question 🙂