Nurses Top Ethics Survey for 4th Time in 5 Years
By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
Doing the right thing, speaking truthfully to patients and
upholding professional standards and principles represents a hallmark of
nursing, something the public continues to recognize, according to a recent
Nurses ranked at the top of the 2005 Gallup Poll assessing
people’s perceptions of various professionals’ honesty and ethics. Eighty-two
percent of respondents gave nurses very high or high ratings, significantly more
than the runners-up—pharmacists at 67 percent and physicians at 65 percent.
“The PA State Nurses Association is not surprised that
nurses are rated the most trusted and ethical profession,” said Michele P.
Campbell, MSN, RNC, executive administrator PA State Nurses Association. “The
mission of nurses is always to provide safe, quality care to patients. They try
not to get caught up in outside issues that can be a barrier to this mission.”
Nurses base their practice on the Florence Nightingale
Pledge and the American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics for Nurses.
“Our patients are in such vulnerable positions, and they
depend on us to assist them with their care, with decision making and to be
honest with them at all times,” Campbell said. “Our code of ethics is a promise
that we make to our patients to provide the best care.”
Deborah Burger, RN, president of the California Nurses
Association, said nurses regard the confidence the public places in them as an
honor and a sacred trust.
“We know that patients and their families regard us as the
last line of defense when they are at their most ill and vulnerable,” Burger
said in a written statement.
On the national level, Barbara Blakeney, MS, RN, president
of the American Nurses Association said, “The rating of nurses by the public
again as number one in honesty and ethics reveals just how much trust the public
places in the nursing profession. It is my hope that this continuing affirmation
of the public's respect and trust will prompt Congress and the health care
industry to support nursing education and improve the work environment for
Gallup conducts the poll annually, interviewing more than
1,000 randomly selected adults. The surveyors asked respondents to rate the
honesty and ethical standards of practitioners of 21 professions on a five-point
scale, from very high to very low.
In the first Gallop honesty survey, conducted in 1976,
medical doctors ranked at the top, with 56 percent of respondents rating them
very high or high. Clergy ranked highest in polls conducted in 1977, 1981, 1983
and 1985. Clergy ratings fell from a 64 percent positive rating, in 2001, to 52
percent, in 2002, after priest sex-abuse cases came to light. Their ratings
still have not recovered and were at 54 percent in the latest poll.
Pharmacists came in first from 1988 through 1998, with high
ratings ranging from 60 percent to 69 percent.
Nurses ranked at the top for the past four years and have
averaged 80 percent high honesty ratings since Gallup first included them in the
survey, in 1999. The only year they fell from the top place was in 2001, when
firefighters earned a 90 percent positive rating following the September 11
terrorist attacks. That was the only year Gallup included firefighters in the
The next highest averages belong to military officers (69
percent), veterinarians (66 percent), pharmacists (65 percent) and high school
teachers (64 percent). Car salesmen and telemarketers have the lowest historical
average ratings, 7 percent.
Gallup interviewed 1,002 adults, between November 17 and
20, 2005. The poll has a 3 percent margin of error.
© 2005. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.