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Nurses rank No. 1 for honesty and ethics 17 years in row!

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.”


Take these courses on ethics:

Everyday Ethics for Nurses
(7.3 contact hrs)

This course provides an overview of bioethics as it applies to healthcare and nursing in the U.S. It begins by describing the historical events and forces that brought the bioethics movement into being and explains the concepts, theories and principles that are its underpinnings. It shows how ethics functions within nursing, as well as on a hospitalwide, interdisciplinary ethics committee. The course also explains the elements of ethical decision making as they apply to the care of patients and on ethics committees. The course concludes with a look at the ethical challenges involved in physician-assisted suicide, organ transplantation and genetic testing.

Pain Management and Ethics: What’s the Right Thing To Do?
(1 contact hr)

Healthcare professionals in most disciplines encounter patients with pain every day. Whether responsible for making assessments, prescribing treatment, or managing care, the professional must continuously make decisions on how to care for a patient with pain. In the current climate of escalating opioid abuse, it may seem that the struggle to determine “the right thing to do” is even more complex. Often the right answer is blurred by the subjective nature and experience of pain itself. Adding new legal restrictions and guidelines to many analgesic agents (most often opioids) further complicates how patients are scrutinized and treated for their pain. Because the treatment of pain has historically always been a moral endeavor, please join a discussion with a pain management expert to look at how ethics, values, and teamwork may contribute to better care for patients with complex pain management issues.

Nursing Ethics, Part 1
(2 contact hrs)

No single event created bioethics. Instead, a cascade of events created the discipline and changed healthcare decision making. This course provides an overview of the history of bioethics as it applies to healthcare and nursing in the U.S. Describing the historical events and forces that brought the bioethics movement into being, this module helps nurses understand the concepts, theories and principles that are its underpinnings.

By | 2020-04-15T16:42:36-04:00 December 24th, 2018|Categories: Nursing careers and jobs, Nursing news|6 Comments

About the Author:

Sallie Jimenez
Sallie Jimenez is content manager for healthcare for published by Relias. She develops and edits content for the blog, which covers industry news and trends in the nursing profession and healthcare. She also develops content for the Digital Editions. She has more than 24 years of healthcare journalism, content marketing and editing experience.


  1. Avatar
    Linda Nance December 27, 2018 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    My Daughter is a Nurse she has the kindest heart most loving soul she was ment to be one!

  2. Avatar
    Parmaram December 29, 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply


  3. Avatar
    ShaRN December 30, 2018 at 3:04 am - Reply

    Thank you Sally for this great article!

  4. Avatar
    Caren Simpson December 30, 2018 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    My daughter has been in nursing and health care for almost 40 years. She is always thinking of how to help others. She is so caring and kind.

  5. Avatar
    Blessing Amobi January 2, 2019 at 6:31 am - Reply

    This is very powerful

  6. Avatar
    Roselyn Zulu January 3, 2019 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    I’m very proud to be blessed with my Profession has a nurse ! My God gave me the favor to belong to this mighty highly respected profession.Salute to all nurses around the world.

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