By Lori Gudat, RN, MSN, CDE, NP-C
Nursing is counted as one of the most trusted professions. It comes in ahead of 21 other professions on honesty and ethical standards, with the latest Gallup poll listing it as the top profession for the 16th consecutive year.1 As a fellow nurse and recent nurse practitioner graduate, I feel humbled to be part of such a noble profession.
Nurses have always placed an increased value on the dignity of others. The profession has required the strictest standards of integrity for its members2 and even developed its own code of ethics, which serves as an outline for ethical behavior for the profession of nursing as a whole. The domains for ethical behavior include the relationship between the patient and the nurse, medicine and the nurse, and the relationship to the profession of nursing itself.3
The profession of nursing requires strict adherence to this code of ethics which guides our behavior and sets the tone for the trusting relationship with the patient. The code has lived through many revisions. For example, as technology continually evolves, it changes how we deliver healthcare. Technology has helped to improve communication between providers, other members of the healthcare team, and patients, but also adds challenges with patient privacy and security which must be secured at all costs.
People ask me why I think nursing is the most trusted profession, and I can answer in a few ways. I believe the reason relates to the fact that we convey empathy to our patients, follow the strict code of ethics as mentioned, and build a trusting relationship with the patient. Several things come to mind which lay the foundation for this type of trusting relationship.
First, we convey a sense of empathy by letting patients voice their concerns and by listening to their home life situation, daily demands and what fears they may have regarding their medical conditions and treatments. As a nurse, I can help them work through those fears which ultimately improves their outcome. When the patient and nurse form a trusting relationship, it establishes a foundation where patients can be free to share their fears and concerns which allows the nurse to truly assess their needs and how best to deliver their care in a holistic manner.
Second, by following our code of ethics, we maintain privacy and confidentiality for the patient at all costs. Patients will reveal what is happening in their lives on a personal level, which often is the key to providing the right care for that patient. As a Certified Diabetes Educator and VMS Clinical Nurse Educator, I have been focused in diabetes care for the last 17 years, and by building a trusting and caring relationship with patients, I have provided holistic care for them which has helped to improve their diabetes outcomes.
Lastly, when nurses follow the code of ethics for the profession and use therapeutic communication techniques with their patients, they bring to the table all the qualities that build trust, enabling many patients to enjoy fuller and healthier lives. Congratulations to all nurses during this National Nurses Week, and thank you for your commitment to improving healthcare for all.
1 Nurses Ranked #1 Most Ethical Profession By 2017 Gallup Poll. Retrieved from ttps://nurse.org/articles/gallup-ethical-standards-poll-nurses-rank-highest 2 Kozier, B., Erb, G., Blais, K., Wilkinson, M.J., Van Leuven, K., (1998) Fundamentals of Nursing, Concepts, Process and Practice. Addison Wesley, Menlo Park, CA 3 American Nurses Association. (1926). A suggested code. American Journal of Nursing 26(8): 599-601.