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By Jeff Lagasse for Healthcare Finance
Americans have deemed nurses to be the most honest and ethical professionals in the country for the 20th straight year according to a new Gallup poll. And while the numbers aren’t quite as strong as in the previous year, when respect for healthcare workers was at an all-time high due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the support for nursing is still quite high, especially when compared to some of the other professions that made the list.
At 81% approval from the public, nurses far outperform even the second-place profession, medical doctors, who grabbed a 67% rating. Grade-school teachers (64%), pharmacists (63%) and military officers (61%) rounded out the top five most revered professions in this year’s list, with more than six in 10 Americans viewing each as highly ethical.
Only two other professions snagged 50% or more: Police officers (53%) and day care providers (50%). Pharmacists placed fourth on the list; the next healthcare-related field to rank was nursing home operators, which placed 12th.
Gallup began these annual ratings in 1999, and the only year in which nurses didn’t grab the top spot was 2001, when firefighters were included in the poll on a one-time basis in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
Nurses, medical doctors and pharmacists – professions which comprise three of the top four on the list – enjoyed boosted ratings in 2020, which Gallup attributes to their public service at the beginning of the pandemic. Their ratings are down between eight to 11 points this year, essentially returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Their numbers represent a strong showing for the healthcare sector generally, which ranked alongside public safety and child care positions as the most respected in the country.
At the other end of the spectrum, Americans seem the most skeptical of the ethics of elected officials, especially at the federal level, as well as the media and people selling products or influence, such as car salespeople, lobbyists and those in the advertising industry.
Other professions’ ethics were seen as average, either by a plurality or slim majority of Americans. Judges, clergy and auto mechanics tilt slightly positive, while lawyers’ and business executives’ images tilt negative. Bankers, nursing home operators and local officeholders had the most neutral public perceptions.
THE LARGER TREND
As with many facets of American life, there were some differences based on political affiliation. While both Republicans and Democrats ranked nurses highly (82% and 83%, respectively), Democrats tended to be much more favorable toward medical doctors (79%, vs. 59% for Republicans) and pharmacists (72%, vs. 59% for Repubicans).
Republicans, meanwhile, had more favorable views of police officers (71% vs. 36%), military officers (67% vs. 59%), and the clergy (41% vs. 32%).