Nurses Again Named Most Trusted Professionals
By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
Talk about a winning record: for 16 of the last 17 years, nurses have earned the top spot in the Gallup poll assessing Americans’ perceptions of the most honest and ethical professions. They retained their top ranking this year, with an 85 percent honesty and ethical standards rating.
“The annual Gallup poll demonstrates that nurses connect with people and are trusted to do the right thing,” said Patricia M. Burke, PhD, CNE, RNC, associate professor at the Touro College and University System in New York.
Nurses been named the most trusted profession every year since 1999 except in 2001, when firefighters earned the spot after the September 11 terrorist attacks. That year, nurses earned an 84 percent honesty and ethics rating while the firemen received 90 percent.
This year’s rating of 85 percent--which tied for nurses’ highest marks on the Gallup poll since 1999--included 29 percent of respondents who rated nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as very high and 56 percent who rated them as high. Another 13 percent of respondents felt nurses were average among professions and just 1 percent of respondents rated nurses low on honesty and ethical standards; the remaining 1 percent had no opinion.
Pharmacists rated the next highest this year, with a 68 percent high or very high honesty and ethics rating, followed by medical doctors at 67 percent and high school teachers at 60 percent. Police officers came next at 56 percent, up from 48 percent in 2014.
Lobbyists earned the worst rating, with only 7 percent of people considering them honest and ethical, followed by telemarketers, car salespeople and members of Congress at 8 percent.
The results are based on a random sample of 824 telephone interviews conducted from December 2-6, 2015. At least 60 percent of the adults were reached on cellphones, and 40 percent landlines. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Preparing nurses to lead
“At Touro College's nursing program, students are prepared to enhance the quality of life and positively influence the health care environment through a combination of evidenced-based knowledge and ethical values,” Burke explained, adding that education mirrors the call by American Nurses Association President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, to all nurses to “leverage this trust to lead and implement change in the health care system.”
Cipriano explained that ethics is an essential part of nursing practice, including an ethical responsibility to ensure the safety of patients and the health and wellness of nurses and other health care providers. In 2016, ANA plans to build upon nursing’s ethical leadership and shared responsibility by launching a year-long “Culture of Safety” campaign to drive changes that will lead to a safer health care system.
“Hospitals, health care systems and other organizations are lacking an important perspective and can’t make fully competent decisions if they don’t have registered nurses at the board table or in the C-suite,” Cupriano said. “That’s why ANA is a member of the Nurses on Boards Coalition, working to place 10,000 nurses on boards by 2020.”
The coalition is one response to the Institute of Medicine’s report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health and the recommendation that nurses play a more pivotal role in decision making to improve health for all Americans. It receives support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. It has created videos to help nurses learn more about board leadership and board appointments. As of December 30, 2015, 557 nurses were serving on boards.
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