The annual Gallup Honesty and Ethics Poll was just released and the results show the most trusted profession, ranked #1 for an astounding 17th consecutive year!, is—drum roll, please—nursing.

When a sampling of random Americans were phoned and asked to “please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields,” more than 84% rated nurses as “high” or “very high.” (Other ratings they could have chosen were “average,” “low,” or “very low.”)

Gallup has sampled the public’s views since 1976, and while the professions change from year to year, nurses have outpaced all others since 1999 when the role was first included. That is, nearly every year, because there was one time when nurses didn’t top the list. That happened in 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when firefighters were included for the first and only time and scored highest. Gallup conducts the telephone survey in late November and releases the results in December.

Health care professions usually dominate the top of the list, and this year is no different. The most trusted groups after nurses were medical doctors, scoring 67%, and pharmacists, coming in right behind at 66%. The lowest rankings for honesty and trustworthiness go to telemarketers and sadly, members of Congress, tied for last place at 8%.

What is it that makes nurses so esteemed for their ethics and honesty? There are many theories, ranging from degree of intimacy (we stand naked—both literally and metaphorically—before nurses) and the fact that nursing is a female dominated profession. The Gallup data suggest that women, on the whole and on average, are seen as more trustworthy than men.

(Estimates are that 90% of nurses are female, according to the American Nurses Association, but that percentage is dropping as more men enter the field.)

Additionally, nurses have a code of ethics to uphold, and they study that topic seriously in nursing school to prepare for difficult ethical dilemmas with life and death consequences. Their licensure also compels them to do what’s right for the patient, not just what’s expedient or in their own (or their employer’s) best interest.

In the end, though, trust is based on personal experience. With nurses making up the largest portion of the health care workforce, almost everyone has had a relationship with a nurse, either as a patient, family member, or friend. They’ve most likely seen that nurses are always there, and always for you, as caregivers and patient advocates.

“Every day and across every health care setting, we are on the frontlines providing care to millions of people,” says ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “Nurses’ contributions to health care delivery, public health challenges, natural disaster relief efforts, research, education, and much more, are unmatched and invaluable.”

Unmatched they are! We would like to congratulation to all the extraordinary nurses for ranking at the highest level for your ethical standards. We know that nurses have many super powers—trustworthiness is maybe the greatest one.

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Jebra Turner

Jebra Turner is a freelance health writer in Portland, Oregon. She frequently contributes to the Minority Nurse magazine and website. Visit her online at www.jebra.com for self-care inspiration.
Jebra Turner
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