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Nurses Win Trust, Leadership Next?

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, December 7, 2010

Nurses are the most trusted professionals in the nation and once again top a list they have dominated for 11 years. Since 1999, the only time nurses have been ousted from the top spot of Gallup's annual survey was in 2001, when firefighters were ranked highest following their heroism on Sept. 11.

Not surprisingly, car salespeople, lobbyists, and Congress rank at the bottom of the pile.

Eighty-one percent of Americans say nurses have high or very high honesty and ethical standards. This is much higher than those for the next most trusted professionals, military officers and pharmacists. Physicians are number five on the list.

It's no surprise to anyone in the profession that the general public trusts nurses. When people are hospitalized, nurses are the ones who provide hands-on care, performing intimate and important medical tasks and helping patients return to health. They are patient advocates who often explain complex treatment regimens that help patients understand their care.

So what can nurses do with their status as most-trusted professionals? A different Gallup poll from almost a year ago found that opinion leaders from across the country believe nurses should have greater influence in many healthcare areas—from reducing medical errors to improving efficiency and reducing costs—but that significant barriers continue to block them from fully achieving those goals.

In this older study, the opinion leaders said nurses are not able to exert greater influence and leadership because they are not perceived as important decision makers or revenue generators, compared with physicians, and that nurses do not have a single unified voice with which they speak about national issues.

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1 comments on "Nurses Win Trust, Leadership Next?"


Stefani Daniels (12/7/2010 at 4:36 PM)
Not only is there a lack of a unified voice, there is no one individual who has taken the initiative to step forward and grab the mike!! There are several well published and highly visible pundits from medicine, but there is not one RN among them. When the ANA moved from being a professional organization to being a union, it diminished in its capacity to represent nurses. And while there was always tension between NLN educators and AONE leaders, it will probably intensify since the IOM has called for baccalaureate education for entry level nurses. Nothing has changed in my 40 years in nursing. Same church; different pew.