You live by the American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics and are receiving the recognition you deserve, again.

In a recent Gallup poll, 84% of Americans surveyed rated the honesty and ethics of nurses as very high or high. You earned the top spot among a diverse list of professions for the 17th consecutive year.

This indicates a 2% increase compared to last year, during which 82% of Americans surveyed described your ethics as high or very high.

You have good intentions

“In general, nurses enter the profession because they want to help people,” said Maria Morales, MSN, RN, CPAN, director of clinical education, content, at Relias. “Many had a personal or family experience that inspired them to enter healthcare to assist others through health situations. One typically does not enter the nursing field for fame or fortune, but rather as a way to serve others. It’s heartwarming to see how the public respects and honors the servant leadership of nurses.”

On the other end of the spectrum, this year’s Dec. 3-12 Gallup poll indicates members of Congress are again held in the lowest esteem. Nearly 58% of Americans say they have low or very low ethical standards.

It’s a stark contrast to the consensus about nurses like you.

“In a time when dishonesty and misdeeds are ubiquitous in our society, it’s very reassuring to know that nursing continues to be viewed as a beacon of light, leading the way with honesty and ethics in the Gallup poll,” said Nan Callender-Price, MA, RN, director of clinical nursing, editorial, for Relias.

Gallup has measured the public’s views of the honesty and ethical standards of a variety of occupations since 1976. But nurses repeatedly maintain the public’s trust.

“The findings of the Gallup Poll are not surprising. Nurses have consistently ranked highly in honesty and ethics,” said Nadine Salmon, MSN, RN-BC, IBCLC, SME writer, clinical nursing, at Relias. “As a profession, we strive to advocate for our patients, and we are usually seen as trustworthy, patient-focused supporters, without financial motivators. I’m proud to call myself a nurse and congratulate all nurses worldwide on their dedication, empathy and devotion to the profession and the patients we serve.”

Americans also rate four other professions as having high or very high honesty and ethical standards: medical doctors (67%), pharmacists (66%), high school teachers (60%) and police officers (54%).

Your ethics aren’t just lip service

Treating patients with compassion and respect has always been part of your creed. According to ethics expert and educator Carol Taylor’s article, “Are you an ethics champion?” nurses operate within the following three core responsibilities:

  1. Ensuring every patient and family member is treated with compassion and respect
  2. Supporting patients and their surrogates as they make healthcare decisions
  3. Resolving conflict about the plan of care

“Perhaps never before has it been so important for nurses to be skilled in recognizing and responding to everyday ethical challenges,” Taylor, PhD, RN, said in the article.

Your compassion embodies heroic acts and advocacy

You only need to read the newspaper or view an online news sources to see the many ways nurses like you around the world are serving with compassion within and outside the work setting.

For example, Jordan Yunbow Michael, a senior community nurse with Bonkrom Community Health Planning Services in Ghana, saved a pregnant woman in a roadside delivery in the city of Dome.

Meanwhile in Texas, an elementary school nurse in Abilene is being hailed as a hero after saving the life of a teacher at the school.

The headlines often share stories of your compassion for patients 24/7 — on planes, before and after hurricanes and other natural disasters, in the aftermath of mass shootings and more.Your adherence to ethics also comes in the form of advocacy for patients.


“Nurses’ contributions to healthcare delivery, public health challenges, natural disaster relief efforts, research, education and much more, are unmatched and invaluable,” ANA president Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, said in a news release. “This past June, nearly 300 nurses from 45 states conducted 277 scheduled visits with members of Congress and staff and were instrumental in the passage of critical legislation to help combat the opioid crisis. Nurses are a consistent and powerful voice in advocating for access to high-quality, affordable healthcare for all.”

With the exception of one year — in 2001 when firefighters topped the list after 9/11 — nursing has far outpaced all other professions since it was added as a category two decades ago, according to the poll. Before 1999, pharmacists and clergy members were the most highly rated professions for their ethics.

“The No. 1 Gallup Poll Ranking is amazing and a well-deserved recognition of the true work that every nurse invests in the care and health of the people across the nation,” said Holly Carlson, MS, RN, CCRN, SME writer, clinical nursing, at Relias. “Nurses are the rare professionals who invest their mind, body and spirit into caring and advocating for others every day of their career. Congratulations to my peers, colleagues and every nurse in the industry.”

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