Tired female nurse sitting on floor in hospital

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NEW YORK — Nearly nine in 10 American nurses believe that nobody understands the work they do. A recent survey asked 1,000 nurses about how they’re perceived in their profession and by the public, finding that 85 percent feel misunderstood by the general public.

Forty-seven percent agree the biggest misconception about nurses is that their job is “easy” compared to other healthcare professionals. However, results also show that nurses think they’re portrayed in the media more positively now than prior to the pandemic (63% vs. 55%). Even so, 63 percent still feel like nurses aren’t seen as “human” by patients and doctors.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of connectRN for National Nurses Week, the survey finds that most believe there to be common misconceptions about what their job entails.

Similarly, 83 percent believe nurses are under-recognized for what they do as front-line workers. Another 63 percent of nurses feel the typical ways in which their employers show appreciation is actually “patronizing.”

Biggest headaches for nurses

While sharing the most difficult parts of their job, respondents brought up working long hours (30%), providing emotional support for multiple patients in one shift (20%), and dealing with nurse-to-patient ratios that are too large (18%). Two-thirds of nurses with children even feel required to choose their job over time with their kids.

When asked what would make their career feel more bearable, nurses cited higher pay (41%) and smaller nurse-to-patient ratios (23%) – which would allow them to dedicate more time to each patient.

“The future of healthcare will be built shoulder to shoulder with the nurses and aides who have supported us all,” says connectRN CEO Ted Jeanloz in a statement. “It’s critical that we, as an industry, listen to what nurses need and take measures to improve their working conditions to empower this community and inspire those who are just starting their careers.”

Still, many respondents shared that they love what they do, describing their career as rewarding (66%), demanding (47%), and joyful (41%).

Over half the poll (54%) reported a desire to heal people. Another 40 percent say they entered the profession based on their experiences with a family member, and 29 percent wanted to be the support they wished they had from others.

They also shared some of the best moments of their nursing career, including one who recalled taking a long-stay ICU patient outside for the first time in three months.
The patient was so appreciative that she cried, according to the respondent. “I still think about her five years later,” the nurse says.

nurses appreciation

A little thank you goes a long way

Seventy-nine percent admit that the doctors, specialists, and other health care workers they work with every day often make them feel supported, and 40 percent feel even more appreciation from their patients.

Most enjoyed receiving verbal or written “thank you’s” (64%), followed by practical gifts that help enhance their everyday lives, such as a gift for a wellness service or product (34%), or a gift card to a restaurant or food delivery service (34%).

“To hear how nurses and aides have been ‘recognized’ in the past for their contributions is both sad and infuriating. We have to do better,” adds Jen Reddy, connectRN’s chief marketing officer. “Our goal this year is to change the experience for this community and demonstrate we are listening – and valuing their impact – not just for one week, but every day.”

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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  1. Andrea says:

    After visiting a loved one in a hospital for over 40 days I can tell you I have a lower respect for both the nurses and doctors. The traveling ICU nurses were the worst. They had 2 patients to 1 nurse and all they wanted was sedated patients. They were either missing most of the time or on their phone. The second worst were the night shift nurses. They were all overpaid CNAs. God forbid if you push the nurse button at night. All I can say is I don’t think Covid killed all those patients in the hospital it was incompetence and improper standard of care. Always go to the hospital with someone that can advocate for your care. I suggest never be alone. The like to over sedate their patients. Very scary times.

    1. Sandy says:

      Nurses don’t sedate patients without orders to do so and doctors need justification for sedating patients ????. I’m sorry you had a bad experience but nurses were not the problem. Try looking at the nonclinical leadership at the hospital and the culture they model to their staff. It’s easy to blame those on the front lines, but usually it’s a systemic problem. Shame on you for blaming Covid deaths on care providers (for blaming any viral death on any one person). You sound like a person who needs to talk to someone to help you sort out your negative feelings and bitterness. I don’t know what happened to you to make you this way, but I feel bad for you.

  2. JJames says:

    Covid didn’t kill all of those people in the nursing home either, it was pure negligence!!!