A nationwide survey conducted in November by Gallup showed that Americans’ confidence in our medical system is not as high as it was 10 years ago. There are a number of likely contributors to this. The COVID pandemic and the resulting staffing shortages, concerns surrounding insurance providers/coverage, and higher prices for medical care related to escalating pharmaceutical and supply costs are just a few.
Despite the lower confidence in the system as a whole, nurses received the highest rating with 82% of survey participants saying we provide excellent or good medical care. Physicians were next at 69%, followed by hospitals at 58%, walk-in or urgent care clinics at 56%, virtual doctor visits at 52%, hospital emergency rooms at 47%, pharmaceutical companies at 33%, health insurance companies at 31% and nursing homes at 25%. Only 3% gave “poor” ratings to nurses, compared to 37% for nursing homes and 33% for pharmaceutical companies.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics “exemplifies our profession’s promise to provide and advocate for safe, quality care for all patients and communities. It binds nurses to support each other so all nurses can fulfill their ethical and professional obligations.”
The burden for nurses to maintain the highest standards of ethical practice is heavy. Living out the ethical principles on which the code of ethics is based — beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice, accountability, autonomy, fidelity and veracity — is a tall order. Nursing has changed dramatically since the code of ethics was adopted in 1950. Being a nurse has certainly not gotten easier, and it’s far from glamorous. The work is mentally, physically and emotionally draining, and, unfortunately, nurses often do not take the time for the self-care necessary to refill their wells when depleted.
The fifth of the nine provisions of the Nursing Code of Ethics is “The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to promote health and safety, preserve wholeness of character and integrity, maintain competence, and continue personal and professional growth.”
Do you think 82% of nurses would agree with our patients who say they are receiving excellent or good care when referring to self-care? In my discussions with many of you over the past couple of months, it is clear you often leave your shift feeling like you were not able to give the level of care you desire. There will be days when this is the case, but the goal is for you to go home feeling good about the nursing care you delivered almost every day. I realize much of this hinges on the support you have from our leadership and the system. We are working hard to address these issues, but we each have an individual responsibility to ensure we are taking care of ourselves and are equipped to give our best.
“New Year, New You” may be a cliché, but the sentiment rings true. Please join me in starting 2024 off with a commitment to the self-care components of provision five. Please make time for your health, including an annual physical, a mammogram or prostate cancer screening, skin cancer screening, dental and eye check-ups, colonoscopy and vaccines. Most of these can be done right here at UAMS.
And, please take advantage of the UAMS Employee Wellbeing Retreats. Watch for information in the coming weeks about this year’s schedule and registration information.
And, lastly, and maybe most importantly, please watch out for each other. If you see a colleague who seems to be struggling personally and/or professionally, offer a listening ear and, if needed, help them find supportive resources. UAMS has a full array of ways to help employees in need. If you need assistance finding help for yourself or a colleague, please send a message to UAMSStrong@uams.edu.
Welcome to 2024! We are in this together, and it will take each of us supporting one another to make it the great year I know it can be. There is no other team I would rather take on the new year with!
Tammy Jones, PHD, RN, NE-BC
Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Operations
Chief Officer – Perioperative, Interventional &
Imaging Services Division
Interim Chief Nursing Officer