Nurses Are From Missouri

Representative Willard Duncan Vandiver was credited as coining the famous “show me” comment about the virtues of his home State of Missouri in a speech at a Naval banquet in 1899. He commented that since he was from Missouri, others had to show him something, rather than just saying something without anything tangible behind it. After having been a nurse for 26 years (and counting), I could make the case that all nurses are from Missouri as well. 

Actions speak louder than words.

Actions speak louder than words.

Nurses are from Missouri. After all, we are taught through stringent training, to question and to look for scientific evidence. We are taught to insist on actual proof of any and all claims regarding health care products and treatments rather than rely on information presented to us by third parties (who may have a profit to gain by our endorsement of those products). We are taught to make certain those claims are scientifically valid and factual before sharing that information with others.

We are trained skeptics, but because of this, we maintain a very high level of trust and credibility with our patients and the public. Nurses are from Missouri in that we must be shown before we will believe and accept information as truth. As nursing professionals, we will do the “research” to make sure the information we give you is true.

Nurses I’ve been closely associated with are focused on the quest for evidence in other areas of their lives as well—even their personal lives. *A statement is not true just because someone says it is true. As nurses, we conclude that the statement is true because we have done the research to make certain beyond a reasonable doubt. It is true because we have seen the proper evidence and determined those claims to be valid.

We search for facts and solutions for our patients every single day. We do it for our families, and if our friends ask us for our professional opinions, we will do it for them as well. We will not officially offer medical advice, because we have been wisely trained for legal purposes not to do so.

This may explain why the 2013 Gallup Poll revealed that nursing is (once again) the most trustworthy profession.  You may be surprised to learn that the nursing profession ranked higher for trustworthiness than the following professionals:

  • Pharmacists
  • Grade school teachers
  • Medical doctors
  • Military officers
  • Police officers
  • Clergy
  • Day care providers
  • Judges
  • Bankers
  • Lawyers
  • Members of congress
  • Newspaper reporters

And the list goes on. Why is that? In addition to our quest for scientific evidence in the information we share, we generally have the best interest of our patients at heart. We are not motivated by profit, secondary gain, status or power.

This quest for evidence spills over into our personal lives as well. Whatever you say to a nurse, you may be asked to back up with facts proving that it is indeed true. We’re not purposely trying to give our family, friends and significant others a hard time, we just naturally continue to need to be shown what is true. (Remember nurses are from Missouri!)

For this reason, in personal relationships, trust may be something that has to be earned over time with a nurse. We need to know beyond a reasonable doubt that we can trust. We need to be shown through actions. Actions speak much louder than words. Nurses are from Missouri. It is just that simple.

The biggest professional challenge in extending trust comes for nurses who work in the correctional environment and are surrounded by convicted felons. Correctional nurses are confronted daily by inmates trying to manipulate them in order to gain special favors. We learn quickly (if we are to continue to work in this environment) to say “no.” On a daily basis, we hear the grandiose claims of status and wealth possessed prior to incarceration. We are neither impressed or amused. It is then that we roll our eyes silently thinking ‘You can be anything you want to be 25 miles from home.’ Remember, nurses are from Missouri.

Each of us in the correctional environment is constantly under scrutiny by our peers (as it should be). It is one way we keep each other safe in our environment.

Each nurse in the correctional environment has had to submit to background checks. We were asked a barrage of intensely personal questions that spanned our lifetime and included our relationships with family, previous employers, ex-spouses and close contacts. The answers we gave an investigator were then validated through a very intense background check. Lying under oath to an investigator over the simplest things would have made us guilty of a felony.

Correctional nurses would like to know we are surrounded by those could pass the same scrutiny. We all make mistakes, convicted felons or not. The thing you should remember is …“you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) Be honest if you’ve made mistakes and don’t try to hide them. When you are honest about your mistakes, you will gain trustworthiness through your willingness to be transparent.

Regardless of your profession, somebody somewhere will always want to see the evidence to support any claims you make. Somebody somewhere is always going to say “show me” and so nurses are already prepared through training to do just that. Maybe it’s a really positive thing that nurses are from Missouri. We ask no less of you than we are willing to give of ourselves.

Pam Baker, RN

Footnote: ‘A statement is not true just because someone says it is true.’  If you happen to love a nurse, you will need to show evidence through action (in addition to saying the words).  You may think this is unnecessary, but you already know nurses are from Missouri!

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