5 things your nurse wants you to know

Nurses work behind the scenes to improve your well-being in more ways than you might realize.

nurse smiling and clutching hand of patient

Updated on April 26, 2023.

I consider myself lucky to be one of the 4.2 million registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. It's an amazing profession full of brilliant, kind, passionate people with years of education and experience in caring for well, sick, and injured folks. Nurses are the heartbeat inside not just hospitals, but also urgent care centers, healthcare provider offices, labs, and much more.

It’s little wonder, then, that nurses consistently rate as the most trusted profession, according to Gallup's annual honesty and ethics survey. Here are five reasons why:

Nurses are leaders for better health care

Nurses advocate for patients and help shape public health policy by serving on city councils, in government agencies, and on state advisory boards. Nurses can also be found in the halls of Congress, educating, informing, and working closely with legislators to improve your health and safety. Nurses also contribute to clinical trials and groundbreaking research to improve the future of healthcare services.

Nurses are your medical confidantes

Nurses spend more time with patients than any other caregiver. They’re educated to detect subtle changes in your appearance and behavior, keep a constant watch over your progress, and anticipate problems. But even with such finely honed analytical and decision-making skills, your nurse can’t pick up on those symptoms that only you know. Things you might not think worth mentioning—like feeling especially thirsty or lightheaded—could signal a more serious symptom that needs attention. So speak up and let your nurse know about anything that's going on with you that seems out of the ordinary.

When visiting your healthcare providers, bring any notes you've kept about your symptoms and your top questions. Nurses don't mind if you come prepared with a list. In fact, they welcome it. Be sure to bring a list of all your current medications, including dose amounts and any supplements you take.

Nurses are your personal advocates

Nurses coordinate every aspect of your care to help keep the physician, pharmacy, lab, and other caregivers informed and working together in your best interest. They’ll help you understand a difficult diagnosis by answering questions you may have forgotten to ask your healthcare provider and will help you make informed decisions.

Nurses help you navigate a complicated system

You may find yourself flooded with information regarding your diagnosis and treatment that may be difficult to absorb even in the best of times. Your nurse can be a trusted go-between in communications with the larger healthcare team, including family members. Your nurse plays a key role in coordinating care when it’s time for you to be discharged from the hospital. They also makes sure that follow-up appointments are made, medications are ordered, and anything else required for your recovery is in place.

Nurses see you as a whole person

When it’s time for you to go home or to another healthcare facility, your nurse considers every aspect of your well-being—your physical, emotional, and psychosocial needs. And they'll provide you with the information you need to live a healthier life that extends beyond the illness that initially brought you to their care.

Article sources open article sources

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Nursing Fact Sheet. Last Update: September 2022.

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