Nurses Most Honest, Car Salesmen Least, Says Gallup Poll

Nurses are America’s most honest and ethical professionals, according to a new Gallup survey (search). Nearly 80 percent of the annual poll’s participants ranked nurses “very high” or “high” for honesty and ethics.

More than 1,000 adults took part in the November phone survey. They were asked to rate the honesty and ethical standards of various professions as “very high,” “high,” “average,” “low,” or “very low.”

Nurses have been in the winner’s circle before. They’ve traditionally ranked at or near the top of the list of professionals that the public holds in high regard. Each year the list rotates approximately 20 professions, and nurses have held their high position in the listing since they were added to the poll in 1999, except for one year. In 2001, firefighters were rated No. 1 after their heroic acts during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Other health care professionals also ranked high. Druggists and pharmacists were ranked near the top of the list, with 72 percent of Americans rating the honesty and ethical standard of this profession as “very high” or “high.” Medical doctors came in fifth with only 67 percent of Americans voting this profession’s ethics and honesty as “very high” or “high.”

The bottom of the list belonged to lawyers, advertising practitioners, and car salesmen.

Curious about how your profession rated? Here’s Gallup’s list, starting with the professions rated “very high” or “high” on honesty and ethical standards:

—Nurses (79 percent)

—Druggists, pharmacists (72 percent)

—Military officers (72 percent)

—Medical doctors (67 percent)

—Police officers (60 percent)

—Clergy (56 percent)

—Judges (53 percent)

—Day care providers (49 percent)

—Bankers (36 percent)

—Auto mechanics (26 percent)

—Local officeholders (26 percent)

—Nursing home operators (24 percent)

—State officeholders (24 percent)

—TV reporters (23 percent)

—Newspaper reporters (21 percent)

—Business executives (20 percent)

—Lawyers (18 percent)

—Congressmen (10 percent)

—Advertising practitioners (10 percent)

—Car salesmen (9 percent)

Considering a career change? The top-ranked profession — nursing — is in high demand. It’s one of the country’s fastest-growing fields, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

About 2.3 million people made their livings as registered nurses in 2002, by the government’s count. Registered nurses earned an average income of about $48,000 in 2002.

By Miranda Hitti, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: Gallup Poll News Service. U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses.”