Do you ever wonder what makes nursing the most trusted profession?
Every year, we are recognized as being the most trusted profession in the USA by the preeminent public opinion poll, Gallup. I always think it’s just because we are, well, trustworthy. We put our patients first, say what we mean and do what we say.
But lately, I have been thinking more about this in the context of caring, professional responsibility, and the codes of ethics that guide our practice-what makes us so trustworthy.
By definition, we are the caring profession and place our patients’ needs first. Professional responsibility refers to the ethical and moral obligations on which our profession is built. These include not just patient care and teaching,but collaborating with families and staff, maintaining integrity, and boundaries, and even the responsibility to effect social change. This becomes part of our identity long before we ever learn to take a blood pressure.
To us, the best interests of the patient come first. How often do you meet someone who places your best interests above all else? How often does the average person meet someone who demonstrates compassion and respect for their self-determination, regardless of other factors? Could this be why we are so trusted?
As nurses, we work to resolve conflicts of interest in ways that ensure patient safety and guard professional integrity. Part of this responsibility is our duty to collaborate fully with the entire treatment team, even when it is difficult.
We have a duty to advocate for our patients. We must work to advance the patient’s legal rights, privacy protections and right to choose. As advocates, we further ensure that we meet all the qualifications and state licensure regulations, including being watchful for colleagues with impairments. We have the duty to accept responsibility for our actions and are accountable for nursing judgment and action or inaction. This accountability extends to situations in which we delegate duties to a colleague or subordinate.
As nurses, we have a duty of self-respect and morality to ourselves and others, including patients. We maintain constant professional growth and commitment to lifelong learning. As nurses, we are ethically bound to virtuous character extending beyond the workplace and into our personal lives. We express wisdom, courage and honesty. When in a leadership role, we provide staff an opportunity to express grievances in a positive way and create environments that foster ethical nursing practices.
We have an ethical duty to spread knowledge and information about health, wellness and the avoidance of disease. Our codes of ethics mandate that we advance the profession by participating in community outreach programs and civic activities related to health. We have a duty to stay abreast of national and global health concerns, outbreaks, epidemics and infectious diseases. As nurses, we must also stay educated about current issues in health including vaccines, world hunger, pollution, lack of access to health care, and homelessness.
So, it’s no wonder that nursing is the most trusted profession. The wonder is how we do it all!
Mahalo for all you do!