Americans trust nurses most despite drop in overall professional trust across categories, according to 2024 Gallup survey
CANTON, Mass. – Amid a healthcare crisis that has seen hospital executives closing essential services and refusing to address patient safety and inadequate staffing problems, Americans find nurses to be the most trusted profession and business executives to be among the least, according to an annual Gallup survey released January 22.
Nurses are viewed as having “very high” or “high” ethical and honesty standards by 78% of the public, 13 points higher than any other profession even as the Gallup poll this year saw an overall decline in trust among most professions surveyed. Only 12% of Americans said they trusted business executives, down from 20% in 2019.
“With our healthcare system in crisis, Americans turn to nurses for the truth,” said Katie Murphy, a practicing ICU nurse, and President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “Nurses remain the most trusted because as patient safety and essential services come under threat from profit-seeking executives, nurses relentlessly stand up for their patients and profession.”
Even as nurses remain the nation’s most trusted and ethical profession for 22 straight years, they face enormous challenges. According to the 2023 State of Nursing in Massachusetts survey, more than 8 in 10 registered nurses said the quality of patient care in hospitals had gotten significantly worse over the previous two years as they described being emotionally exhausted, increasingly disengaged and more likely to leave the profession or reduce their hours.
- 71% of nurses said in the 2023 MNA survey that their biggest obstacle to care is understaffing/having too many patients.
- As many nurses plan to leave the field within two years because of understaffing and burnout as retirement (40% retirement, 20% overworked/understaffed and 19% burnout/exhaustion/stress).
- Among nurses already not working in a hospital who used to work in a hospital, 18% left because of understaffing (the most common reason) and 15% because of work hours/schedule.
- Newer nurses are disproportionately feeling the impact of the healthcare crisis.
- Sixty-three percent of nurses with 0 to 5 years of experience say understaffing is their biggest obstacle to providing quality care, compared to 56% of all nurses.
- Of those nurses planning to leave the field within two years, 67% of newer nurses say they will find work outside of healthcare, compared to 31% of all nurses.
- In overwhelming numbers, nurses support a legislative solution that would develop a statewide maximum limit on the number of patients a registered nurse at Massachusetts hospitals can be assigned at one time.
- Seventy-six percent of all nurses said they strongly support this safe patient limits bill, and 12% somewhat support it.
- Nearly every nurse (97%) surveyed with 0-5 years of experience said they “strongly support” the legislation.
Gallup notes that since nurses were added to the survey in 1999, they have topped the list of most trusted professions every year except in 2001, when firefighters were recognized shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for their heroism and bravery.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.