In 2015, I attended the TED conference in Vancouver. It was a surreal experience, with inspiration around every corner. I spent 3 days in awe of the passion, insight and innovation I witnessed.
One story in particular has stuck with me over the years -- Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps which is often described as the single largest collection of human voices ever recorded.
During his talk, he shared a very simple idea: Listening is An Act of Love.
When you read that sentence, it seems obvious. Giving someone the gift of your presence in our fractured, overscheduled, always on world, is a luxury.
What does it mean to truly listen?
Everyday we get the privilege of listening to our nurses and CNAs through our community. In our conversations around their quality of life and their work environments the consistent thread is clear: they do not feel heard or valued and haven’t for a long time.
One of the major moments where this feeling shows up? Nurses Week. A week designed for THEM, yet the appreciation they feel is often lacking.
How do we know this?
Last month, we commissioned a study with 1,000 nurses from all over America, to capture their honest thoughts and raw opinions at this point in time. What we learned confirmed our hypothesis that the nursing community is frustrated with how they are portrayed and valued on a number of levels:
Nearly nine in 10 American nurses believe that nobody understands the work they do.
85% of nurses surveyed feel misunderstood by the general public
47% of nurses surveyed feel like others assume their job is “easy” compared to other healthcare workers.
For those not in healthcare, imagine how that might feel, to know you are risking your life to care for others and yet no one really understands the impact or importance of what you do. Despite all the media coverage and attention nurses have been getting over the last two years, which has mostly been positive (63% of nurses surveyed feel nurses are more positively portrayed in the media now than prior to the pandemic) there is still a major disconnect around their day-to-day reality and the “fiction” that is portrayed on TV, movies, and in the press.
Now imagine that in addition to the world not “getting it”, you are also not appreciated or valued by your peers or your managers:
83% of nurses surveyed feel under-recognized for what they do as front-line workers
63% of nurses surveyed feel they’re not seen as “human” by their patients and doctor
Even worse, a week that is meant to celebrate all you do - Nurses Week - is littered with meaningless acts that compound their frustration with being seen and heard:
63% of nurses surveyed feel patronized by the typical ways in which employers have shown appreciation
So, where do we go from here?
Despite all the disappointment, there is HOPE. Many still love what they do. Sure, nursing is demanding (according to 46% of nurses surveyed), but it’s also incredibly rewarding (66%) and at times, even joyful (44%).
The hope and joy they still feel is why we all must work harder to support this community beyond one week in May.
In addition to our collaboration with StoryCorps, we have committed to disrupting Nurses Week in a meaningful way. Inspired by their voices, our campaign focuses on giving nurses the power to choose how they want to be treated while shining a light on where we can all do better.
Creating the future of healthcare will only happen with nurses at the center. Listening to their hopes/dreams/fears/frustrations is only the first step, but it is a critical one.