Nurses Top Gallup Poll as Most Trusted Profession for 18th Consecutive Year


 
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By RJ Reinhart

For the 18th year in a row, Americans rate the honesty and ethics of nurses highest among a list of professions that Gallup asks U.S. adults to assess annually. Currently, 85% of Americans say nurses' honesty and ethical standards are "very high" or "high," essentially unchanged from the 84% who said the same in 2018. Alternatively, Americans hold car salespeople in the lowest esteem, with 9% saying individuals in this field have high levels of ethics and honesty, similar to the 8% who said the same in 2018.

Nurses are consistently rated higher in honesty and ethics than all other professions that were asked about, by a wide margin. Medical professions in general rate highly in Americans' assessments of honesty and ethics, with at least six in 10 U.S. adults saying medical doctors, pharmacists and dentists have high levels of these virtues. The only nonmedical profession that Americans now hold in a similar level of esteem is engineers, with 66% saying individuals in this field have high levels of honesty and ethics.

Americans' high regard for healthcare professionals contrasts sharply with their assessments of stockbrokers, advertising professionals, insurance salespeople, senators, members of Congress and car salespeople -- all of which garner less than 20% of U.S. adults saying they have high levels of honesty and ethics.

The public's low levels of belief in the honesty and ethical standards of senators and members of Congress may be a contributing factor in poor job approval ratings for the legislature. No more than 30% of Americans have approved of Congress in the past 10 years.

Assessments of Honesty, Ethics Stable Over Time

Americans have been consistent in their assessments of the honesty and ethics of most professions on this list. However, there have been a few notable changes in the past year, including:

Americans' assessment of the honesty and ethics of journalists fell by five percentage points. There was previously a 10-point increase in Americans' belief that this profession is honest and ethical, from 23% in 2016 to 33% in 2018 -- but this most recent drop to 28% returns journalists to levels last seen in 2015.

The ongoing decline in views of the honesty and ethics of clergy seems to have paused. From 2012 to 2018, the percentage of Americans saying clergy had high levels of honesty and ethics slid from 52% to 37% -- but 40% now regard clergy as having high honesty and ethical standards. Clergy had been held in high regard by Americans for much of Gallup's trend, but views of their honesty and ethics have declined overall since 2006, when 58% of Americans said this group had high levels of these virtues.

Trust in the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress also rose modestly to 12%, from 8% in 2018. The percentages saying legislators have high honesty and ethics rose slightly among both Republicans (from 7% to 9%) and Democrats (from 6% to 12%). This improvement in Americans' overall views of members of Congress now makes car salespeople the lowest-rated profession.



 
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