Once again, nurses have come out atop the results of a Gallup poll that “asked Americans to rate the honesty and ethical standards of members of various professions.” This year’s poll suggested that 82% of Americans rate nurses as ranking “high” or “very high” in terms of their honesty and ethical standards. The next most highly ranked were pharmacists and grade school teachers (both at 70%), followed by medical doctors (69%). Farther down the list: police officers (54%), clergy (47%), bankers (27%), lawyers (20%), and members of congress (just 8%).
Of course, this raises as many questions as it answers. For a start, what contexts do people have in mind when they answer such questions? It’s worth considering that individuals have very different relationships with nurses than they do with (say) lawyers, and those two professions have very different rules about things like honesty. There are situations in which both nurses and lawyers are required by confidentiality rules not to be “honest” (or at least not candid).
It also raises questions about just how well-informed are these opinions, and what are they based on? How, for example, is each of these professions portrayed on TV, and how accurate are those portrayals?
None of this is to cast doubt on nurses being at #1, but rather to promote another essential nursing skill, namely critical thinking!