15 Reasons Why Nursing is the Most Trusted Profession in America

Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C

What words come to mind when you think about nurses? Do kindness, compassion, honesty, advocate, and support come to mind? The last few years have been very difficult for healthcare teams, including nurses. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about many new challenges that we are constantly adapting to ensure high quality of care. One thing that hasn’t changed is that nurses have continued to be considered the most trusted profession in America. So, now are you wondering why is nursing the most trusted profession in America? Below, I will provide 15 reasons why nursing is the most trusted profession in America.

What Are The 5 Most Trusted Professions In America?

The Gallup Honesty and Ethics Poll was first completed in 1976, and starting in 1990, it has been completed annually. The most recent poll conducted between December 1-16—asked Americans to rank the honesty and ethics of various professions on a scale from “very high” to “very low.” Below is a list of the 5 most trusted professions in America, with the percent indicating the number of Americans ranking the profession “very high” on the Gallup rating scale.

Number one on the list is nursing, indicating nursing is the most trusted profession in America. You will notice that nurses are ranked as more trustworthy than medical doctors by 14%, which is significant compared to the difference in trustworthiness amongst the other top 5 most trusted professions.

1. Nurses—81%
2. Medical Doctors—67%
3. Grade-School Teachers—64%
4. Pharmacists—63%
5. Military officers—61%

For How Many Years Have Nurses Been Ranking As The Most Trusted Profession In America?

Are you wondering how many years the Gallup Honest and Ethics Poll has ranked nursing as the most trusted profession? The answer—20 years!. This is remarkable and quite an achievement for nurses! Plus, it reinforces the value of nurses in the delivery of care in all healthcare settings.

Why is Nursing the Most Trusted Profession in America?

We now know that nurses are the most trusted profession in America, and have been for the last 20 years. Below, in no particular order, I provide a list of 15 reasons why nursing is the most trusted profession in America.

1. They care for the sick

All healthcare providers care for the sick, but the nurses are at the bedside most of the time. They advocate for their patient, hold their hands in times of heartache or sadness, and are there to deliver care at all times of the day. Frequently, they are also the ones coordinating care between the ancillary team to ensure the patient is getting the therapy, nutritional support, social services, and other services they need.

2. Ensure patients and their families understand their diagnosis, treatment, discharge, etc.

This is huge! I can say from first-hand experience majority of nurses take the extra few minutes to ensure the patient and their family understand the information given to them. Yes, the medical doctors will explain this to the patient but may not use easy-to-understand words. Nurses know how to clarify diagnoses, treatment plans, discharge instructions, etc., to the patient to understand. They use pictures, written instructions, and the teach-back method to ensure comprehension of the information. This will then lead to better compliance with medication and treatment plans—leading to better or improved overall health.

3. Nurses advocate for their patients

Nurses are known for being advocates for their patients; they will speak up and support what is right. They spend the most time with the patient—standing alongside them while in the hospital or outpatient settings. The nurse talks with the patient, answers questions, and advocates for them when necessary. I see this all the time in my career, both as an RN and APRN. When I was a bedside nurse, I remember a patient whose respiratory status was declining. I kept talking to the hospitalist, who told me it was normal and not to worry. I was getting more concerned and finally spoke with the cardiothoracic surgeon involved in the patient's care. This physician listened, assessed the patient, and agreed—and he ordered various treatments to prevent the patient from declining more. This nurse's role is sometimes overlooked, but we need to advocate for our patients!

4. Nurses are empathetic

Empathy is putting yourself into someone else’s shoes and understanding how they may be feeling. Empathy also helps the nurses see other viewpoints and deliver non-judgmental care to their patients. Nurses are empathetic towards their patients—it is one of the pieces that allow them to provide excellent care through advocacy and compassion.

5. Nurses do not judge

Nurses do not care who you are, where you came from, or what you did—nor will they judge for past or current decisions. While they may provide education regarding lifestyle changes, they will always deliver the best care possible and offer you resources and support as needed.

6. Nurses are dependable

Nurses will continue to show up for their shifts, follow through with the orders from the medical doctors and go the extra mile for their patients to help them be more comfortable. Nurses do this every shift they work regardless of any outside stressors they may be experiencing. They know while at work, their job is to deliver high-quality care and for their patients to know they can depend on them to do so. While this is not to say nurses do not forget to grab a blanket for a patient throughout the day or a cup of ice—overall, patients can depend on their nurse throughout the day to provide patient-centered care.

7. Nurses adapt to their surroundings

Another reason nursing is the most trusted profession in America is that they can adapt to their surroundings—and I feel we are seeing this more and more with the current Covid-19 pandemic. Nurses have the skills and qualifications to float between floors in their hospital, work with different physicians in clinics, or assist in other roles (within their scope of practice) as needed. While they may not always enjoy it, they can do it—knowing that it is done to make sure patients receive the appropriate care.

8. Nurses are smart

Nursing school is hard—there is no other way to say it. But, it is so rewarding and prepares you for practicing on your own. You have to learn a lot in nursing school (pathophysiology, pharmacology, clinical skills, health assessment, etc.) to ensure safe care delivery. You must be smart to identify changes in a patient’s status and think critically. You must also educate patients and communicate efficiently with the healthcare team. Nurses also gain their “smarts” through experience—you are always learning from preceptors, co-workers, past and current experiences.

9. Nurses are honest

Honesty is one of the primary traits of nurses. They are honest in their words, delivery of care, and actions. They are honest in delivering education and answering questions. They do not want to mislead patients—and want the patients to know the facts. But, they have a way of delivering this news or education with compassion and patience.

10. They will remember you

Nurses will remember you. In the hospital, you will be on their mind, even if they are not caring for you, because they will be wondering how you are doing. It’s not uncommon for nurses to stop by and say hi to patients once they have transferred to another floor--or to ask the nurse caring for you how you are doing. Once you are discharged and years have passed--they may not remember everything about you, but every patient a nurse cares for impacts them and their practice.

11. Nurses are responsive

Now it may not seem to everyone that nurses are responsive—but they are. They do their absolute best to respond to every concern, question, and request from a patient or their family member, but they do respond to more urgent matters first. They respond to codes, call lights, critical values, changes in patient status, and requests from patients. They are responsive to changes in orders, new admissions, or anything else thrown their way. Nurses must be responsive to provide high-quality care to their patients.

12. Nurses will listen to their patient

Have you ever been cared for by a nurse and felt they really listened to you? They listened to your concerns or complaints, listened to you talk about your family, or even listened to you talk about your grief. That is because nurses do listen to their patients. They may be doing other things simultaneously, such as assisting you with personal care, administering medications, or completing their assessment, but they are listening. When nurses take a few extra minutes to listen to the patient, it shows the patient they care and can lead to greater trust. This is all-important to help achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients.

13. Nurses spend time with their patient

Nurses spend time with their patients. This is not meant to mean that the other professions don't want to; it's that nurses are assigned a specified number of patients to care for during their 8 or 12-hour shift. During this time, they spend a lot of time with their patient--administering medications, helping with daily care, walking the patient in the hall, and completing other tasks, including education. They may even care for the same patient for two or three days in a row, allowing the nurse to spend even more time with the patient delivering care and getting to know their patients.

14. Nurses are compassionate

Compassion is another word that is often used to describe nurses. It is the act of recognizing a person suffering or needing help and then doing what they can to provide this help. Many of the actions of compassion a nurse displays are discussed within this list; listening, advocating, empathy, and caring. In all honesty, everyone who delivers healthcare is practicing compassion. I believe this is one of the core components in providing high-quality patient care.

15. Nurses get to know their patients

Nurses get to know their patients. This is often because they spend so much time with the patient throughout the days—and possibly even several days in a row. Nurses will often ask questions about their family, what they do for work, activities they enjoy, etc., to help pass the time while they are in the patient's room. Plus, it can often be a nice escape for the patient to think about something other than being in the hospital--or feeling like they are just another number along with the other patients. This simple act, along with the other 14 points on the list, is why nurses are the most trusted profession in America.

Do Patients Trust Nurses More Than Doctors?

Nurses are the most trusted profession indicating patients trust nurses more than doctors—but doctors are second on the list.

5 Reasons Why Nurses Are More Trusted Than Doctors

So, why are nurses trusted more than doctors? There may be a few contributing reasons why nursing is the most trusted profession--none of which are to be viewed as disrespectful to the medical doctor. But instead, it does display the differences in the role of the nurse and medical doctor in the delivery of care and why the healthcare team must work together to deliver high-quality care to achieve positive outcomes.

1. Nurses spend more time with the patient
2. Nurses advocate for the patient
3. Nurses translate medical jargon allowing the patient and family to understand
4. Nurses help patients be as comfortable as possible
5. Nurses are empathetic

My Final Thoughts

Nurses play a significant role in delivering care to patients, and there is a reason why they have been consistently voted for the last 20 years as the most trusted profession. And, now that you have read the 15 reasons why nursing is the most trusted profession in America, I hope you can answer the questions, why is nursing the most trusted profession in America?

Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!