Trust as the Healing Touch

Added on Mar 9, 2015

Once again, nurses were ranked as the most trustworthy profession according to the 2014 Gallup poll. 80% of Americans rated nursing’s honesty and ethical standards as very high or high. And – more good news for healthcare – medical doctors and pharmacists were tied for number two in the poll with 65% of Americans rating their honesty and ethics as very high or high. (Advertising, car sales, and Congress were the bottom three.) See all of the results at

As a nursing leader – I am not surprised. Trust is integrity over time – the trust equation is Trust = Integrity x Time - and nurses spend more time with the patients than doctors and pharmacists (and car salesmen).

Trust is part of the healing touch. Good things happen when patients and family trust their caregivers and providers:

  • Better outcomes because patients are more likely to follow treatment plans
  • Better safety because patients and families are more likely to follow precautions


Questions to consider:

  • 1. Do we talk the talk? Trust starts with authentic communications. We at HPI use both tones and tools as practice habits for communications. The tones tend be simple skills that increase frequency of communication. My top two are provide opportunities for others at ask questions and listen with empathy and intent to understand. The tools tend to be more technical and acronym-based such as SBAR.

    Do we have both tones and tools? And do we have communication habits that consistently use our tones and tools?

  • 2. Do we walk the talk? Real integrity comes from us doing what we said we would do. Do we have a culture of high reliability such that we consistently deliver on our promises? Or – do we have a culture of somewhat reliability where we sometimes deliver on what we said we would do?