Skip to main content

Perceptions of Nursing

In June 2011, CRNBC along with CARNA, CRNM, and SRNA conducted focus groups to help inform a project to increase public awareness of registered nurses.

posted Sept. 26, 2012

Do Nurses and the Public See the Profession of Nursing Differently?

Professional nursing regulation is not conducted in isolation. Nurses accomplish their role effectively with the contribution of the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC). The College protects the public when nurses understand and follow their standards and code of ethics. Together we provide the foundation for safe, competent and ethical nursing practice.

  • The College develops and oversees standards and other requirements so nurses have a foundation for delivering safe, competent and ethical care.
  • The professional nurse ensures that standards are embedded into their work, requirements are met, and good character is maintained.

Our regulatory framework identifies our commitment to relational regulation. We want to strengthen the link between registered nurses and the work of the College.

We wanted to know what nurses and the general public perceive as the role of registered nurses. As we reach this goal, we also wanted to know how both groups think nurses are able to deliver these roles.

In June 2011, CRNBC along with the College & Association Registered Nurses of Aberta (CARNA), College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba (CRNM), and Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association (SRNA) conducted focus groups to:

  • help inform a project to increase public awareness of registered nurses’ expert knowledge and experience
  • identify the contribution RNs make to patient safety
  • link the positive brand for registered nurses as already established by public opinion with the work and role of regulatory bodies
  • enhance understanding of the professional nature of nursing

Following the focus groups, a survey in April 2012 was conducted to offer broader input from nurses in British Columbia and included a parallel survey with the public. We also wanted to ask nurses and the public their opinions about specific nursing characteristics as identified in the June 2011 focus groups and survey:

  • partnership and collaboration
  • leadership
  • knowledge
  • patient care
  • professional standing
  • overall contribution to health care
About the Survey

In April 2012, 33,204 B.C. nurses were sent an online survey from CRNBC. We received 4,938 responses.

An identical survey was sent to approximately 10,000 members of the public through IPSOS Reid. We received 533 responses. Public respondents were eliminated if they or a family member work as a registered nurse.

We asked nurses and the public what they think the role of the registered nurse is. The overwhelming response from the public (74.4%) identified providing safe and reliable patient care as being the most important aspect of registered nursing (unaided). Nurses identified safe and reliable care along with a variety of characteristics. Fifteen percent of nurses identified patient advocacy as a characteristic. This was not identified by any member of the public.

Both the public (63.3%) and nurses (53.8%) identified caring as what nurses are best known for. Knowledge and critical thinking was identified by 11.5% of nurses and 3.2% of the public.

word_cloud2

Importance

There are significant gaps between public perceptions of some aspects of registered nurses' roles when compared to the perception of nurses. Each of the following was perceived as more important by nurses than by the public:

  • Registered nurses providing leadership in health care in general and in their workplace
  • Registered nurses being part of a team approach when considering patient care 
  • The importance of RNs communicating with patients/clients/families
  • Advocating for patient care

Without considering performance, the public and nurses ranked the importance of various functions as follows:

Public:
Importance of
Nursing Function

Nurses:
Importance of
Nursing Function

FIRST

  • Respecting patients'/clients' needs
  • Acting in a responsible and professional manner
  • Acting in the best interests of the patients/clients
  • Retaining patient/client confidentiality
  • Retaining patient confidentiality
  • Making patients'/clients' safety a top priority
  • Acting in a responsible and professional manner
  • Having respect from other health care professionals

SECOND

  • Nurses being respected by other health care professionals
  • Making patients'/clients' safety a top priority
  • Keeping skills up-to-date
  • Respecting patients'/clients' needs
  • Advocating on behalf of patients/clients
  • Communicating with patients/clients

THIRD

  • Advocating on behalf of patients/clients
  • Communicating with patients'/clients' families
  • Providing team leadership
  • Keeping skills up-to-date

FOURTH

  • Providing leadership to the health team
  • Providing leadership in health care
  • Acting in the best interests of patients/clients
  • Providing leadership in health care
Performance

When asked to rank the performance of nurses on a variety of characteristics the most significant gap between public and nurse perceptions is in the area of registered nurses retaining patient’/client' confidentiality. Overall, the average performance was high and ranked equal or close to equal by both groups with the exception of confidentiality. The registered nurse characteristics respondents were asked to comment on the following attributes (public/nurses index rating):

  • Keeping their skills up to date (78.1/74.0)
  • Expertise (82.3/79.6)
  • Dedication to their patients/clients (79.9/83.1)
  • Trustworthiness (82.3/85.6)
  • Always acting in the best interest of their patients/clients (77.3/81.0)
  • Being efficient in their work (79.3/77.1)
  • Providing leadership to their team and others (76.1/75.6)
  • Having respect from other health care professionals (73.4/70.0)
  • Acting in a responsible and professional manner (81.1/79.6)
  • Respecting patient/client needs (79.1/80.8)
  • Advocating for patients/clients with other members of the health team (77.8/81.7)
  • Communicating with patients'/clients' family members (82.9/80.0)
  • Practising in an ethical manner (77.0/83.4)
  • Making patient/client safety a top priority (80.6/84.1)
  • Retaining patient and client confidentiality (82.9/74.3)
  • Providing leadership in health care (73.8/71.2)

A further analysis shows that according to the general public, nurses need to improve on:

  • Keeping their skills up-to-date
  • Acting in the best interests of their patients/clients
  • Having respect from other health care professionals

This further analysis shows that according to nurses, they need to improve on:

  • Retaining patient/client confidentiality
  • Collaborating with doctors and other health care professionals
Previous Experience of General Public
The general public was asked for their experience with nursing care in the last two years. Forty-one and a half percent said they had been cared for by a nurse in a hospital and 27.8% in another location. Almost 68% of the public said that nurses cared for another immediate family member in any location within the last two years.
Next Steps

The results of ​​this survey will be used by CRNBC as we continue to develop our work as a relational regulator and to assist in positioning registered nurses as regulated professionals.

Home > About CRNBC > Announcements > 2012 Announcements > Perceptions of Nursing