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- Nurses ranked as the most trusted profession for the 21st year in a row with 79% of people saying their honesty and ethics were high or very high.
- This honor comes even as nurses continue to navigate the ongoing nursing shortage.
- The president of the American Nurses Association (ANA) congratulated nurses on their achievements and voiced her concerns about the future of nursing in a statement.
Nurses ranked as the most trusted profession for the 21st year in a row, according to a Gallup poll released in January 2023. People have ranked nurses as the most trusted profession every year since 2002. Nurses also won the title in 1999 and 2000, but firefighters broke their streak in 2001 after the events of September 11, 2001.
"This recognition belongs to America's 4.4 million incredible nurses," said ANA President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. "For more than two decades now, the nation has recognized the vital role you play in keeping our friends, families, and communities safe and healthy, regardless of the setting you work in or the challenges you might face. Your ranking in this poll is an acknowledgment that without your bravery, professionalism, and clinical expertise, our health care system could not function."
Seventy-nine percent of people ranked nurses' honesty and ethics as high or very high, which was 17 percentage points higher than any other profession. Twenty-nine percent of those people ranked nurses' honesty and ethics as very high, 12 percentage points more than the second highest-ranked profession — medical doctors.
Medical doctors and pharmacists ranked second and third, which shows that people trust their healthcare professionals the most. Sixty-two percent of people ranked medical doctors highly. Fifty-eight percent ranked pharmacists highly.
Percentage of People Who Rated the Honesty and Ethical Standards of Each Profession as High or Very High (Top 5)
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Nurses Want to Be Treated Like They're the Most Trusted
This honor comes at a time when nurses must continue to navigate the pressures associated with the ongoing nursing shortage. On January 9, 2023, nurses in New York City began a strike for fair wages, better healthcare benefits, and safe staffing ratios; the strike ended after three days.
Senior nurse writer and family nurse practitioner, Joelle Jean, agrees that the Gallup poll does not accurately reflect how nurses are valued in the healthcare system.
"As you can see, it took threats of a strike and a recent three-day strike in New York to get the attention of hospitals for a fair contract that includes safe nurse-to-patient ratios, fair wages, and health benefits," she says. "Nurses aren't valued in the healthcare system because they are considered an expense, not an asset."
Jean continues, "At the end of the day, it's the patients and nurses who suffer while hospital execs receive million-dollar bonuses and raises. It is the nurses who provide the care, and if a nurse has 7-10 patients, there is no humanly possible way [they] can provide quality care."
Nurses have said for years that the pandemic caused a bad staffing situation to become worse. Negotiations in the Minnesota nurses' strike for more staff, better security, higher pay, and different shift scheduling started 16-18 months before the pandemic.
Even as Mensik Kennedy congratulated nurses for their achievement, she was concerned about the nursing profession.
In her statement, Mensik Kennedy said, "Though COVID-19 may have receded from the headlines, it continues to weigh on nurses in communities and care settings in every corner of the country. Additionally, the strain of a historically severe flu season along with a surge of RSV infections has only added to the stress and anxiety that many nurses are feeling."
She added, " … the lurking menace of workplace violence can make what is already a difficult job, a deadly one. In short, I am gravely concerned about our nation's nurses and the nursing profession."
Nurses have been clear about what needs to change for nursing staff. Many of their requests boil down to one request as Jean acknowledges: "Provide us with the appropriate staffing levels we need to provide the best level of care for our patients."
Jean identifies why these concerns have not yet been met. "I think where the confusion lies is [that] the public trusts us but they still really don't know what nurses do, how unbelievably difficult and task-oriented the job is, and how it's not okay to have us work short," she says.
"A nurse influencer recently posted how an airline won't even take off if they are short. Working short as a nurse should be held by the same standards," Jean says.
Changes Nurses Want to See in Healthcare Moving Forward
Nurses have asked for the same changes in healthcare since before the pandemic. They want a safe work environment for themselves and their patients that allow them to provide the best quality care for their patients.
According to a March 2022 report from the ANA, the top staffings solutions identified by nurses include:
- More travel nurses (62%)
- More nurses and support staff (52%)
- Higher wages, bonuses, and incentives (49%)
- Changed staffing models (18%)
- Increased float pool (18%)
- More licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, and patient care technicians (16%)
- Breaks they can take (15%)
- Vacation days they can use (15%)
Other strategies to combat the nursing shortage include listening to nurses, polling them for feedback and ideas, and prioritizing nurse retention. Yet, all of these solutions require agreement from both hospital administrators and nurses.
"I am urging the public and private sector to work together with nurses to develop solutions to the numerous long-standing crises that have plagued nursing for too long," said Mensik Kennedy.
Jean says, "I think hospital administrators and healthcare systems do trust nurses. Oftentimes, when policies and procedures are changed, it lands on the nurses' shoulders to implement them."
"The hospital system is broken, and what needs to change is the culture. The culture is top down, 'do as I say.' It needs to be a less punitive, lateral, collaborative approach where nurses are at the table making decisions," Jean says.
Meet Our Contributor
Joelle Jean, RN, FNP-BC
Joelle Jean has been a nurse for more than 10 years and family nurse practitioner for over three years. She has a background in pediatric emergency room, labor and delivery, and primary care medicine. Her passion for the nursing profession and writing led her to her current role as a senior writer for NurseJournal. She and her talented team are dedicated to delivering educational content to readers interested in the field of nursing.
Americans continue to rank nurses most honest and ethical professionals. (2023).
Brenan M. (2023). Nurses retain top ethics rating in U.S., but below 2020 high. https://news.gallup.com/poll/467804/nurses-retain-top-ethics-rating-below-2020-high.aspx
Pulse on the nation's nurses survey series: COVID-19 two-year impact assessment survey. (2022). https://www.nursingworld.org/~492857/contentassets/872ebb13c63f44f6b11a1bd0c74907c9/covid-19-two-year-impact-assessment-written-report-final.pdf
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