And, maybe, members of other healthcare professions do not always encourage the idea of nurses as innovators and pioneers. Nurses support and soothe - it is others, especially doctors, who lead and inspire.
Last week, Nursing Times hosted a unique gathering at Barts and The London NHS Trust. A round dozen of the finest nurses of the past two generations joined guests representing others from the generation before that gave birth to the NHS and created much of modern health care. Together, they constituted the NT Diamond 20 - the most influential nurses of the last 60 years - as chosen by you.
These 20 nurses are embodiments of the contribution that the profession has made to the NHS and to health care in general.
Nursing Times launched the Diamond 20 for two main reasons - to highlight that contribution, and also to remind today's generation of what they can achieve.
There is inspiration aplenty in the NT Diamond 20.
Among the nurses we honour, you will find those who advanced patients' rights, pioneered innovative practice, transformed thinking on the treatment of mental illness, played a powerful role in the key political battles that shaped the NHS, revolutionised nursing education, challenged racial and gender barriers and created many of the health services on which we have now come to depend.
Their influence has, in many cases, been global. Millions - if not billions - of people owe them a debt of thanks.
Many of the nurses named in the Diamond 20 had to struggle to achieve overcoming both conventional wisdom and often outright prejudice.
Those no longer in practice would have loved to work in today's health services - where the ability for nurses
to influence service delivery are without precedent.
The greatest tribute today's nurses can pay the Diamond 20 is to recognise that they have this opportunity and seek to follow their example in redefining health care for this generation and those to come.
Alastair McLellan, editor, Nursing Times