Nursing has long held a top spot in Gallup polls of most-trusted professions, and a recent survey gave nurses another professional boost. A Gallup 2023 Health and Healthcare survey, conducted Nov. 1-21, landed nurses at the top of the list of excellence of care. a nurse in royal blue scrubs sitting on the bed of an elderly female patient for excellent nursing care

Eighty-two percent of survey respondents to the Gallup poll reported that nurses provide “excellent or good” medical care. Physicians were second on the list with 69 percent of respondents giving the “excellent or good” rankings to that group. Other care provider options didn’t fare as well with the survey reporting that hospitals, walk-in or urgent care centers, and telemedicine only took 58 percent, 56 percent, and 52 percent of positive responses. However, urgent care centers, which have become much more broadly available, did notch up a few percentage points since 2003. Hospitals, which 70 percent of the public said provided quality health care in 2003 (and even up to 72 percent in 2010), have dropped down to 58 percent with the latest poll.

Despite the turmoil the health care industry has grappled with since the pandemic emerged nearly four years ago, nurses have consistently emerged as winners in the public eye for the care they give and the level of trust patients have in their ethics. In a 2023 Gallup poll that measured public perceptions of honesty and ethics among professions, 79 percent of respondents said nurses rated high or very high in those categories (medical doctors came in with a 62 percent rating for the combined categories).

Only once in the ethics poll’s two-decade history have nurses been knocked out of the top spot–in 2001 when firefighters landed as number one after the 9/11 attacks. As the pandemic revealed the herculean efforts of medical caregivers to help sick patients, even at their own personal peril, the nursing profession again came into the spotlight.

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When Gallup first asked for public impressions on the medical care provided by these groups in 2003, nurses scored even a bit higher than they do today. A lot has changed in the health care landscape in 21 years from addiction and pandemic crises to drug pricing scandals and skyrocketing health insurance costs. And while nursing care doesn’t directly impact these areas at a high level, they likely do impact public impressions of nursing and medical care as a whole.

With the high percentage of respondents reporting high faith in the medical care nurses provide, and much more noticeable declines in the perceptions of care provided in other areas of the health care industry, nurses can feel good about their accomplishments. They develop meaningful connections with patients and their families while providing excellent care–all within an industry that is rapidly changing.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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