Why Are Nurses Important To Society – (20 TOP REASONS)

Written By: Kelsey Bader, BSN, RN

Are you a new nurse or considering becoming one? Do you wonder if being a nurse is significant? Perhaps you have asked the question, “Why are nurses important to society?” I understand; after all, you want to know you have chosen a career where you can make a difference and positively impact the world around you. In the field of nursing, you will have countless opportunities to do just that! Nurses play a HUGE role in healthcare and are vital to the medical field. In this article, I will share 20 reasons why nurses are so important to society and tell you how your actions can directly impact patients, families, and communities.

Why are Nurses Important to Society?

(The following are the top 20 reasons why nurses are important to society.)

REASON #1: Nurses Are Patient Advocates

Nurses spend an extensive amount of time with patients, which often results in close bonds being formed, also known as the nurse-patient relationship. As your relationship with your patient strengthens, they are more likely to confide in you, which puts you in the perfect position to advocate on their behalf. As a nurse, you may often be the voice of your patients, either because they feel they have no voice of their own or because they feel insecure or unsure about their rights. You are responsible for making sure that the medical decisions that are being made are in the best interest of the patient.

Because of the bond you share with your patients, you can express their wishes to physicians and other team members and ensure that their rights are being protected. Our ability to advocate for the patients we care for is one of the main reasons why nurses are important to society.

REASON #2: Nurses Provide Most of the Direct Patient Care

As a nurse, you will be the one who provides much of the hands-on care. Whether that care entails performing an assessment, monitoring vital signs, administering medications, helping with activities of daily living, or carrying out physician orders, you will be the one who is at that patient’s bedside more times than not.

Even nurses who have more of an administrative role may be found spending time providing direct patient care. In fact, when I moved from bedside nursing to management and worked as an ADON, I was still at the patient’s bedside frequently throughout their stay. Of course, my role was slightly different than it had been in the past, but in my new nursing role, I was still carrying out physicians’ orders, working with the patient on discharge planning, and addressing any reported issues.

REASON #3: Nurses Provide Compassionate Care

Almost all nurses go into the medical field because they are passionate about caring for and helping others. It truly is a calling! Now, of course, you do have some nurses who were drawn to the field for other reasons, such as compensation or the work schedule. However, for the most part, each nurse who has gone through the challenges of nursing school and taken the oath does so because they want to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Nurses provide compassionate care to patients and their families during what might be some of the toughest days of their lives. For patients and their loved ones, the compassion we show can make a world of difference in how they receive and respond to care, which can significantly impact their health outcomes. Our ability to provide genuinely compassionate care is another top reason why nurses are so important to society.

REASON #4: Nurses perform vital patient assessments

As part of their daily routine, nurses usually perform an assessment of each of their patients. These assessments can vary depending on their specialty area and the patient’s chief complaint. Some of these assessments may be focused and condensed, while other assessments will consist of a full head-to-toe exam.

Regardless of the level of complexity, these patient assessments assist nurses in identifying important symptoms and significant problems that the patient is experiencing. Nurses are then responsible for reporting these findings to the physician so the patient’s plan of care can be appropriately adjusted. Nurses assist physicians in the process of determining the best treatments for patients, which is another reason why nurses are so important to society.

REASON #5: Nurses Play a Huge Role in Emergency Response

In the unfortunate event that an emergency occurs, nurses are often the first on the scene. In fact, the emergency response team is made up, in large part, of a team of nurses. Whether there is an internal emergency situation in a hospital, such as a code blue being initiated, or an external emergency, such as a weather event or a violent attack on the public, that requires medical assistance, chances are you will see nurses on the forefront of the emergency response.

In these situations, you will see nurses performing chest compressions, administering critical medications, obtaining additional IV access as needed, and recording a timeline of events, along with any other necessary actions. Nurses play a vital role in the success of emergency response teams.

As an ICU nurse and a member of the response team, I was responsible for responding to and playing an active role in any emergency event that occurred while I was on shift. Many of these codes would have had a significantly different outcome if it were not for the nurses who responded quickly and sprang into action without hesitation!

REASON #6: Nurses Assist Patients with Medication Management

Nurses are not only responsible for medication administration while caring for patients, but we are also responsible for reviewing the patient’s complete medication profile and identifying any contraindications or possible interactions. Some patients, especially the elderly, see several different doctors or specialists and fail to relay their entire medication list to each one. Unfortunately, because of this miscommunication, the patient can end up with more medication than what is needed to treat their condition, known as polypharmacy, or they may be prescribed multiple incompatible medications because the doctors do not have full access to their medication lists.

As nurses, it is our responsibility to conduct a thorough assessment of the patient’s history, including gathering a complete medication profile, to ensure they receive the best and safest treatment options. Sometimes, this means going through each and every medication one at a time with the patient. Identifying duplicate meds or contraindications can prevent further illness or even fatality for patients!

REASON #7: Nurses Are a Source of Emotional Support

On some of the darkest days of a patient’s life, nurses are there to provide care and support. If you have ever sat at the bedside of a loved one during some of their toughest days, or if you have personally been on the receiving end of nursing care, then you know exactly what kind of difference the nurse can make in the overall experience. It is such an impactful role that we have the privilege to fill!

As a first-time mom, I was a nervous wreck when I went into labor. I knew what I was taught about labor and delivery in nursing school, but it is a whole different ballgame when you are the one wearing the armband! I did not have a clue what the pain would be like, what to expect throughout the process, or how my body would respond. Let me tell you, my nurses were absolutely phenomenal! They talked me through everything, eased my mind, supported me, and made the overall experience a wonderful one – well, about as wonderful as labor can be! This is the potential impact that a nursing role holds, and what a beautiful impact it can be!

REASON #8: Nurses Are Critical Thinkers

Part of the required curriculum in nursing school includes extensive training on how to apply critical thinking skills in the clinical setting. Critical thinking skills are the driving force behind each task that a nurse completes throughout the day. This skill set allows a nurse to analyze, interpret, and respond to information in a variety of situations.

Because nurses are critical thinkers, we can play a key role in the medical field. As nurses, we continually rely on our critical thinking skills to appropriately respond to the changing circumstances of our day. This analytical and adaptive approach is another reason why nurses are important to society and why we impact the medical field in such a substantial manner.

REASON #9: Nurses Ensure Patient Safety

When you arrive for your shift, and you are assigned a patient, you take responsibility for that patient and their well-being. Part of your responsibility includes promoting measures to ensure their continued safety. To successfully promote patient safety, nurses must rely on their clinical judgment. We assess our patients to identify safety risks based on their individual status and needs.

Once those risks have been identified, it is up to us to initiate preventative measures to reduce those risks. Preventive measures may include things like implementing fall precautions, initiating pressure ulcer preventatives, or making sure DVT prophylaxis measures are in place – just to name a few! By identifying risks and implementing interventions, we promote patient safety and reduce the risk of complications for our patients.

REASON #10: Nurses Are a Source of Health Education for Patients

Education is extremely important when it comes to one’s health! After all, you can’t practice what you do not know or understand, and this is where nurses come in! As nurses, we have such a unique opportunity to teach patients what they really need to know about their diseases and how to best manage them and answer any questions they may have.

You can implement patient education at every point of contact with your patient, from admission to discharge. Whether you discuss various aspects of their condition over the span of several days during their facility stay, teach them about medications, or educate them on how to use medical equipment at home, educating your patients is key to decreasing rehospitalizations and reducing further complications. The nurse’s role in patient education and the impact that it has on their overall health outcomes goes to show just one more reason why nurses are so important to society!

REASON #11: Nurses Are Care Coordinators

The patient’s care team is made up of several interdisciplinary care providers. When you put it all together, it is like a giant puzzle in motion. Because nurses spend the most time with patients and are typically the ones to receive updates about patients from other team members, we are naturally at the center of the care coordination “puzzle.”

While other interdisciplinary team members may move throughout a facility caring for multiple patients, nurses often have a set number of patients to care for each shift. As such, we become somewhat of a "constant" in regard to a patient's care and are tasked with coordinating care. Effective care coordination is crucial to seeing positive patient outcomes, and this is one of the reasons nurses are important to society.

REASON #12: Nurses Aid in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Through the processes of educating patients and implementing interventions, nurses play an active role in promoting health and preventing the spread of disease. When we teach patients about preventative measures and the impact that they can have on one’s health, we empower patients to take control of their own health. Preventive measures may be as simple as encouraging patients to eat a healthy diet, participate in regular exercise, and get adequate amounts of sleep.

These principles are important because they aim to prevent diseases before they occur. Secondary prevention measures are used to help reduce the effects of a disease and prevent any further complications. Nurses are important to society because of our ability to educate and inspire patients to prioritize their own health and well-being.

REASON #13: Nurses Empower Patients

It is not only a nurse’s job to care for patients when they are sick or weak, but it is also our job to empower patients to become as independent as possible and able to care for themselves. This process of empowering patients looks different from patient to patient. For some, this process will be brief and easy, while others will have a more extensive and lengthier journey.

Depending on your patient’s level of acuity, you may empower them by doing something as simple as teaching them how to correctly use their at-home glucometer to monitor and treat their blood sugar. On the other hand, you may have more challenging tasks, like teaching a patient who just had an upper left arm amputation how to adapt to completing their activities of daily living with their non-dominant hand.

No matter how little or how big the task seems, the empowerment that you can help instill in your patients is priceless! No wonder nurses are so important to society!

REASON #14: Nurses Contribute to Healthcare Innovation

As part of the frontline healthcare team, nurses are keenly aware of the problems that plague the medical field and interrupt patient care. Because of our natural problem-solving tendencies and critical thinking skills, we are often some of the first individuals to brainstorm solutions for these problems, contributing to the progress and success of the nursing profession and health of society. This is just one more reason why nurses are important to society.

One example of how nurses contribute to healthcare innovation occurred at one of the hospitals where I used to work. We had a program that encouraged employees to submit ideas and solutions for any problem of which they were aware. If the suggestion seemed to be something capable of solving the issue, the facility would go through the process of designing and producing the product or protocol with the assistance of the original inventor. If the product became marketable, then the creator (submitting employee) received a portion of any profits. I always thought this was a great concept because it gave everyone potential access to the necessary resources that would allow their ideas to become a reality.

REASON #15: Nurses Play a Significant Role in Infection Control

There are countless opportunities for an infection to occur in the medical field. Whether we walk into a room where someone is coughing or sneezing, touch a contaminated surface, or participate in a medical procedure, there is always a risk of being infected.

In the first term of nursing school, nursing students learn about standard precautions such as hand hygiene, medication safety and injection practices, and the proper use of personal protective equipment. As nurses, we can have a significant impact on mitigating the rate of infection by implementing infection control measures and teaching patients about standard precautions.

You may also choose a specialty that requires more extensive training in the prevention and reduction of infection. For example, some nurses choose the career path of becoming an infection control nurse, working in conjunction with medical staff, patients, and public health agencies to promote and protect the safety and health of individuals.

REASON #16: Nurses Help Patients Manage Their Pain

If you have ever been injured or had a painful procedure, then you know what a relief it can be to see your nurse coming in with pain medication! As part of standard assessments, nurses are tasked with evaluating our patient’s level of pain and offering interventions to help manage their pain.

Some interventions may include pharmacological measures like administering pain medications or utilizing non-pharmacological measures such as repositioning, using hot or cold compressions, relaxation techniques, or physical therapy.

While pharmacological measures are sometimes necessary, when we teach patients about non-pharmacologic interventions, we become instrumental in combating the opioid crisis currently affecting the country. This reason alone is enough to shout out that nurses are so important to society!

REASON #17: Nurses Engage in Lifelong Learning to Promote Positive Patient Outcomes

By participating in lifelong learning and continuing education opportunities, nurses stay up to date with the latest evidence-based practices and medical innovations. Doing this makes it possible for us to remain knowledgeable about the newest developments in healthcare. With enhanced clinical skills, we can then implement improved practices in the delivery of patient care, resulting in better patient outcomes.

REASON #18: Nurses Serve in Leadership Roles Throughout Healthcare

One of the great things about nursing is that, although you can be a leader and make a significant contribution as a bedside nurse, you can also serve in leadership roles in various healthcare settings. Good nurse leaders are essential for the growth and sustainability of the healthcare profession. Numerous leadership roles exist, and each one contributes to the success of other nurses. For example, you may decide to be a charge nurse, a unit manager, a nurse educator, or a director of nursing. These are just a few of the many different leadership roles that exist! Whether you work in a bedside nursing position or take on a designated leadership role, you can lead others by your good example.

REASON #19: Nurses Contribute to Industry Research and Evidence-Based Practices

As nurses, we have the opportunity to directly impact evidence-based practices by participating in clinical trials and assisting with the collection of data. Through our contributions, we have the chance to help advance nursing knowledge and improve the overall quality of patient care.

Also, if you choose to pursue an advanced nursing degree, you will likely participate in industry research, which provides new information and drives the continual improvement of medical practices. The impact that research and evidence-based practices have on patient outcomes is another reason nurses are important to society.

REASON #20: Nurses Provide Telehealth and Telemedicine Services

With every patient interaction becoming more technologically driven, it’s no surprise that healthcare has become more geared toward the availability of virtual encounters. The popularity of telehealth and telemedicine has skyrocketed over the last decade, even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through technological advances, nurses provide patient care, monitoring, and education remotely. Because of these technological advances, individuals who may otherwise not seek healthcare now have increased access to healthcare services. This step in the right direction in regard to accessible healthcare is another reason nurses are so important to society!

My Final Thoughts

In this article, I shared 20 reasons why nurses are so important to society with you, and honestly, these reasons are just the tip of the iceberg! Nurses fulfill a variety of roles within the medical field, with each one being just as significant as the other. Just like other members of the interdisciplinary team, nurses are invaluable to the field of medicine! The next time the thought, "Why are nurses important to society?” crosses your mind, I hope you’re able to easily recall the magnitude of the impact that nurses have across the medical field and pat yourself on the back knowing you are making a difference and are so important!

List of Sources Used for This Article

1. “What Is a Nurse-Patient Relationship (with Components, Phases, Importance, & How to Establish) (nursingprocess.org)
2. “12 Ways To Show Compassion In Nursing (With Examples)” (nursingprocess.org)
3. “The Dangers of Polypharmacy and the Case for Deprescribing in Older Adults” (National Institute on Aging)
4. “What is Critical Thinking in Nursing? (With Examples, Importance, & How To Improve)” (nursingprocess.org)
5. “The Nurse’s Role in Patient Education” (Arkansas State University)
6. “Standard Precautions for All Patient Care” (https://www.cdc.gov/)
7. “10 Pros and Cons of Being an Infection Control Nurse + Salary + Steps to Become” (nursingprocess.org)

Kelsey Bader, BSN, RN
Kelsey Bader is a registered nurse from Louisiana. Kelsey has a diverse range of experiences. Some of Kelsey’s work experience includes bedside nursing in ICUs at various hospitals in COVID and non-COVID units, emergency rooms. Kelsey has worked in remote chronic care management, as a remote patient monitoring nurse, and has experience as an Assistant Director of Nursing.