For the first time, nurses were included in the Ipsos MORI Veracity Index, an annual global survey that ranks the amount of trust the public has for various professionals.

According to the results, nurses were among the top few professions most trusted in many countries (while politicians remain at the bottom).

The caring professions enjoy the most trust

In Australia and Japan, nurses were the most trusted, with 96% and 90% of the surveyed doing so. In the former, this was closely followed by other professions in the medical industry – doctors (94%), paramedics (94%) and pharmacists (93%).

This was echoed in the UK, where 93% of 1019 British participants over 15 trusted nurses to tell the truth. Doctors and teachers were next, at 91% and 88% respectively.

In the US, nurses were voted the most trusted profession for the 14th year in a row, in 2015, according to the annual Gallup poll ranking for honesty and ethics.

In Indonesia, the only Southeast Asian country where the survey was taken, doctors and teachers were awarded the highest trust ratings at 93% each. Politicians, telemarketers/insurance agents, and lobbyists, on the other hand, had the lowest trust ratings – politicians, in particular, have never enjoyed trust ratings from more than 25% of the public. In Indonesia, insurance sales representatives were even less trusted than politicians.

Why nurses and not doctors?

One might expect doctors to be more trusted than nurses because these professionals are the ones heading the medical care plan for the patients. Indeed, doctors are often high in the list of trusted professionals.

However, the more care exhibited in the profession, the higher the trust rating. This is not to say that doctors do not exhibit care for their patients; simply that the profession of a nurse calls for the demonstration of patient care in ways that other professions do not.

Nurses are the ones who see to the needs of the patient – they have the most contact with patients in hospitals. It may not even be a stretch to say that 99% of the interactions patients have in a hospital setting are with nurses (if we exclude visits from loved ones).

It is natural to trust those who are always there to see to one’s needs, and to successfully alleviate pain and discomfort. For this, patients and loved ones trust nurses to see to their well-being. Even if the full scope of a nurse’s duties is not often understood, and they are not always given the full appreciation they deserve, the fact is that patients do trust that nurses will be there to provide help when needed, sometimes even to the point of being taken for granted.

Nurses are closest to the patients

Nurses are professionals that are explicitly required to demonstrate both the medical and human sides of the healthcare industry. It takes a certain amount of compassion to be able to work as a nurse, and patients respond to this human touch with trust.

This may mean taking care to be more sensitive to any discomfort a patient experiences, as in the case of male nurses, or doing little things to ensure a patient’s comfort. Nurses are privy to the most vulnerable sides of their patients, and respond to that with care and support.

Lastly, nurses serve as the bridge between doctor and patient. In hospitals, doctors may not have time to slowly communicate the patient’s condition to them.

They may spout medical terminology that patients may be too intimidated to seek clarification on. Hence, the presence of a nurse is important in such scenarios – the nurse interprets the doctor’s prognosis for the patient. A big part of gaining someone’s trust is to be able to communicate at their level, and nurses are often required to do that.

The connection between a nurse and patient is often very intimate – a certain degree of trust must be accorded for a patient to allow a nurse to insert an IV tube or change a urine catheter, for example.

Patients literally trust nurses with their lives - to administer their medications safely, to correctly take blood samples, etc. It is hard to be a patient, but the care of a nurse makes them feel more secure. MIMS

Read more:
Nurses: Handling patients with challenging conditions – part I
Nurses: Staying optimistic in your work
Nurses: 3 reasons to improve your interpersonal skills