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Lipscomb nurses join the ranks of the public’s most trusted profession

Ethics, honesty and Christlike behaviors are stressed to all student nurses, who are sought-after by hospitals upon graduation.

Janel Shoun-Smith | 615.966.7078  | 

Nurse in the on-campus simulation lab

For the 20th straight year, nurses lead Gallup's annual ranking of professions for having high honesty and ethics, eclipsing medical doctors in second place by 14 points—81% vs. 67%

The students and faculty at Lipscomb’s School of Nursing say Gallup’s results make a lot of sense. 

"We are nurses because we have a commitment to help people and a deep desire to alleviate their suffering,” said Chelsia Harris, executive director of the School of Nursing. “Seeing Gallup poll results such as these affirms that the public ‘feels’ our commitment and desire and gives us the momentum to keep going."

“It really comes down to the fact that you are with the patient for so long,” said Mary Hesselrode, the School of Nursing’s associate executive director for academics. Lipscomb’s nursing faculty continuously stresses to students that they are caring for individuals at their most vulnerable point, she said.

“Because that patient is relying on you, a bond and a trust is created and therefore perceived by the patient,” said Hesselrode, whose professional nursing experience includes emergency and trauma patient care at Baylor University Medical Center. “You just get to know the patient better as a person. When people are ill or vulnerable they are looking for someone to help them.”

According to Gallup, nurses have topped the list all but once since being added to Gallup's annual rating of professions in 1999. That was in 2001, when they were displaced by firefighters—who earned an all-time-high honesty score of 90% when they were included on a one-time basis in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

“Three of the top four [highest-rated lines of work in 2021]—nurses, medical doctors and pharmacists—are medical professions that enjoyed boosted ratings in 2020, likely because of their service to the public during the pandemic,” states Gallup’s January release. “The 2020 rating for nurses was the highest for any profession other than firefighters in 2001, while doctors' rating was the highest ever for that profession.”

The School of Nursing has two classes that specifically focus on ethics —Leadership and Management and Applied Christian Values, said Hesselrode. Throughout the school year, these classes discuss topics such as the importance of speaking out to catch mistakes and thus improve the health care process for all patients.

But beyond those classes, “we really try all the time to model Christlike behaviors that fall in line with being ethical and taking the time to provide holistic care,” said Hesselrode. “Hospital affiliates tend to want Lipscomb nurses because they can sense that we are not just coming in to earn a paycheck, but instead thinking about the patient’s whole mind, body and soul.

“I would think Lipscomb nurses’ honesty and ethics would score even higher on the Gallup scale, based on our graduates’ job satisfaction rates and how our nurses are sought out when they graduate,” said Hesselrode.

Abby Jackson, a Lipscomb student nurse expecting to graduate at the end of this year, said she has learned three important lessons from her nursing studies at Lipscomb.

“As a nurse, you will get the opportunity to help individuals from every walk of life when they are at their worst. It is your job to put all your biases aside to provide the best care possible to them and to serve and love them to the best of your ability,” said Jackson.

Another lesson she has learned is that patients trust nurses not only with their life, but oftentimes with private information.

“There was a situation in my mental health clinical in which a patient shared private information with me, and it was astonishing to me that while I did not know this patient very well, they were willing to trust me with their story,” said Jackson.

“Individuals who are willing to do nursing truly have a heart and a love for people and I think the public sees that in nurses,” she said.