Nurses have topped the list for the most honest and ethical profession for nearly two decades, and in 2020, we earned a record 89% very high/high score, four percentage points greater than last recorded in 2019 (Saad, 2020). In fact, since 1999, when nurses were added to the poll, there has been only one year when we were not ranked the most honest and ethical; that was 2001, when firefighters topped the list.
While this validates our level of respect from the public, many of us realize how much our voice resonates with those close to us in our day-to-day lives. Do family, friends and neighbors come to you with health-related questions? When an acquaintance learns that you are a nurse, are you then asked, “What do you think about…?” These days, more than ever, I am asked about COVID-19, vaccines, travel and return to school.
Our voice is important, and it pleases me to see an increase in nurses addressing our current health care crisis in the media. Our own Chief Nurse, Anne Dabrow Woods, has written for Fierce Healthcare
and MedCity News
, the Swab Squad from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital appeared on Ellen
, and more and more nurses are being interviewed on major news outlets. For example, here’s a clip of NYC nurse, Sandra Lindsay, the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S
. on MSNBC. There are also more nurses on boards
and nurses in the U.S. Congress
than ever before.
It is important to keep up this momentum, but how?
- Stay informed on how nurses are being represented in the media. The Woodhull Study on Nursing and the Media: HealthCare’s Invisible Partner was published in 1998 and replicated in 2018. Here are the details.
- Seek out opportunities to share your story. Whether within your institution or community, or on a national or global stage, speak up. It’s important to share the work and innovation of nurses, especially now caring for COVID-19 patients. Remember to always prioritize patient and family privacy.
- Educate those around you. There are still many who don’t understand the work of nurses and the many roles we have. Whether you are in a clinical or nonclinical role, let others know how your work impacts health. Social media is another outlet to inform and educate, but again, use caution to maintain privacy and remain professional.
- Write for publication. Whether it’s a research study or narrative, publish your work! We are very familiar with the old adage, “If it wasn’t documented, it wasn’t done.” Publication is a way of documenting your knowledge and experiences. Wolters Kluwer offers many author resources and here’s a comprehensive list of nursing journals from the International Academy of Nursing Editors.