Why are nurses such trusted sources of healthcare information?

Deb Cordes
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

The Gallup poll began including nurses in 1999 and since that time they have ranked as the top profession in the category of honesty and ethical standards. Nurses are the premier health educators. The nurse best translates health information into actionable and meaningful information for people to apply to their daily life. Nurses represent the most powerful opportunity to present health information in a trusted environment. 

Nurses have ranked very high for a long time regarding trustworthiness by the general public all over North America in the least.  In my opinion, there are several reasons for this:

  1. Nurses are well educated and know where they can access up-to-date information when they need it.
  2. Nurses are guided by a code of ethics that requires them to know both their capabilities and their limits so they are honest with both themselves and others.
  3. Nurses know that establishing a trusting and therapeutic relationship with clients is essential
  4. Nurses are taught how to teach, listen actively and assist others to learn how to manage their own health.

These are some of the reasons why the public sees nurses as trusted sources of health information.

Let’s think about the word trust.  Patients place their trust in us each time they are admitted to our care.  They expect, and they deserve, the best outcome possible.  Yet, healthcare is a risky business.  Life is a journey, and with well-placed trust, the journey can meet and exceed your expectations.  As nurses and patients, trust matters! Why trust?  Why does it matter?  It matters to each and every one of us as professionals because Americans have been asked to rate the honesty and ethics of various professions annually since 1990, and periodically since 1976 through the Gallup Poll.   Nurses have topped the list each year since they were first included in 1999, with the exception of 2001 when firefighters were included in response to their work during and after the 9/11 attacks. Since 2005, at least 80% of Americans have said nurses have high ethics and honesty.  Nurses advocate for patients and their families, they respond to concerns, they refer appropriately, and they are active listeners.  If you were asked to identify the 3 most significant factors in creating trust, what might your list look like?  My own choices would include:  1) honesty and openness – a willingness to tell the truth about a clinical situation, about a patient encounter, and knowing that the truth is honored within my organization; 2) ensuring transparency – creating a platform in which transparency is valued ; and 3) acknowledging the situation and using it as a learning opportunity. Hospitals are a center of trust, and nursing is at its core!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.