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Survey: Americans rank nursing as most ethical profession

nurses standing and smiling

Monkey Business Images | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 05/14/23

The clergy, which was ranked among the highest when the poll began in 1977, have consistently fallen since 2009, with only 34% rating them highly in 2023.

A new survey from Gallup is measuring the views of Americans regarding the ethics of various professions. Overall, professions within the healthcare industry were viewed as the most honest and ethical of the study.

Nurses were rated the most ethical of the 17 professions ranked by Gallup, which has run this survey annually since 1999. In that timeframe, the only year in which nurses were not named most ethical was 2001, the year in which firefighters took first place after 343 of them lost their lives in NYC in their rescue efforts during 9/11.

Overall, 79% of those surveyed viewed nurses as having “very high” or “high” honesty and ethical standards, however this is 10% lower than in 2020, during the world pandemic.

Two other healthcare professions were found to be just behind nurses in the ranking: medical doctors (62%) and pharmacists (58%). Gallup noted that, similarly to nurses, both of these professions have dropped in their ratings since their record highs during the pandemic. Furthermore, the ratings of all three listed medical professions have fallen below their pre-pandemic levels. 

The only other two professions that enjoyed rates of 50% or more were high school teachers and police officers, which rated 53% and 50% respectively. Less than half of respondents rated any of the other professions on the list higher than 41%, however most of the other professions were seen as “middling” rather than “subpar.”

The views of American respondents on the clergy have also been seen to drop significantly in the last 50 years. When Gallup began the survey in 1977, members of the clergy were among the highest rated professions and they remained there until 2002. Since then, however, the clergy has consistently fallen, for which Gallup points to the recurring sexual abuse scandals within the Church as an explanation.

In 2009, 50% of respondents cited clerics as “highly” or “very” ethical and honest, but in the most recent poll only 34% rated the clergy so highly. 

Read the full report at Gallup.

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