Diana Mason

I’ve grown weary of the public continuing to rate nurses as the most trusted profession (annual Gallup polls every year of this decade except 2001 when fire fighters understandably led the ratings), only to have leaders in health care agree but ignore us.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a Gallup poll that surveyed over 1500 opinion leaders in health care, including government officials, health care and insurance executives, and university faculty.

The survey found that:

  • Doctors (54%) and nurses (42%) are the information sources about health and healthcare in whom opinion leaders have a great deal of confidence.
  • Government (75%) and health insurance executives (56%) are viewed as most likely to exert a great deal of influence on health reform, compared to only 37% for doctors and 14% for nurses.
  • 51% say nurses have a great deal of influence in reducing medical errors and improving patient safety
  • 18% say nurses exert a great deal of influence on increasing access to care, including primary care.
  • 39% say nurses will not have much influence on reforming health care over the next 5 to 10 years, compared with 10% of MDs.

Nothing new here to most nurses. We continue to have to be vigilant about whether nurses are included at decision-making and advisory tables, as speakers at national and regional conferences on quality and safety in health care, and on boards of health-related organizations. The next time you’re in a meeting on health care, look around the table and ask whether nurses are included — and not just a token RN. If they aren’t, ask why not and call for RNs to be appointed. Organizations and the nation are missing out if we don’t all change our expectations about who is at the table.

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