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Ethics and Honesty: Gallup Poll Ranks Nurses First

The numbers are in, and nurses get the “win.”

Again.

In a 2015 survey asking respondents to rank 11 career fields for ethical standards and honesty, the Gallup Organization reports that nursing and nurses ranked the highest, with 80% of Americans saying that nurses have high or very high standards of honesty and ethics.

In fact, except for the 2001 survey, in which firefighters were ranked for their service on September 11, nurses have ranked at the top of this periodic survey since 1999.

Having worked as a registered professional nurse for over 40 years, my experience totally corroborates these findings. In the course of my career, I have served alongside unwaveringly honest, principled people; people committed to their passion for the highest standard of care for their patients, and quality environments for their teams. And in the course of teaching new generations of nurses, I see the future looking just as good.

It makes sense. By and large, those who are drawn to nursing aren’t ordinary people to start with. They’re people who fundamentally care for others. And they’re strong. Strong in their commitment, strong in their endurance through rigorous training, and strong in a truly demanding profession where life-and-death decisions are made daily, and outcomes are measured rigorously.

Six Traits of a Good Nurse

Along similar lines, I’d like to draw your attention to an article in last year’s Nebraska Methodist College blog that describes, in detail, the six key traits of a good nurse:

Compassion
Respect
Calm Under Pressure
Detail Orientation
Communication
Knowledge

While we can always improve ourselves in any area, especially technical skills and knowledge, many of these traits aren’t taught. They’re inherent.

The connection? I believe these traits also contribute to the “why” of ethical nurses.

It’s nurses who care for patients. And their families. We coordinate, communicate and so often, it’s our care that makes the difference. Our reward: actually making a difference in peoples’ lives, and making the world a better place.

At Galen, we’re working to prepare the nurses of tomorrow, and to build new partnerships with healthcare providers to maintain and improve care standards for all patients today and in the future.

We hope other institutions will join us in this push. Because we all have the same goals: more, better-prepared, quality nurses for a population (including ourselves) that will desperately need them one day. If we all work together, it can happen.

I recently came across a powerful quote; “You (nursing students) are not studying for an exam… You are studying for the day when you are the only thing between the patient and the grave….” (author unknown).

So here’s to you, nurses of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We are good people practicing in an honorable profession, and blessed to be here.

I’m grateful every day to the nurses who show up and do great things because of who they are. It makes all the difference in what we do.

Anne McNamara PhD, RN

Anne McNamara PhD, RN

Academic President

Anne McNamara, PhD, RN, is Academic President at Galen College of Nursing. She has over 40 years’ experience in nursing and nursing education, including terms on the American Nurses Association and American Nurses Credentialing Center boards.