Nurses celebrate being members of most ethical profession

By | 2021-05-07T14:45:22-04:00 January 15th, 2018|2 Comments

For nurses on the frontlines of healthcare, recent news that Americans continue to trust nursing more than any other profession is not only validating, but also a testament to the effort they put into caring for patients every day.

“Everybody was re-Tweeting it and sharing it,” said National Student Nurses Association President Jennifer Kalenkoski, RN, who works in a medical cardiology progressive care unit for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “Everybody was really proud of it.”

Gallup Poll findings show Americans rank nursing as the most honest, ethical profession for the 16th consecutive year. The findings, released Dec. 26, 2017, showed 82% of Americans surveyed described nurses’ ethics as high or very high.

Jennifer Kalenkoski, RN

Jennifer Kalenkoski, RN

“You have to want to be in this career and want to be helping people,” Kalenkoski said. “You’re taking care of people in their most intimate moments.”

That level of trust earned the profession the top spot in the Gallup Poll, outshining 21 other professions — from highly trusted military officers and grade school teachers to the least trusted professions in the ranking: members of Congress, car salespeople and lobbyists.

Americans ranked the healthcare professions, including medical doctors and pharmacists, in the top five most honest and ethical professions. Sixty-five percent of those responding indicated medical doctors’ ethics were high or very high, versus 62% for pharmacists.

Members of congress, on the other hand, only earned very high or high ethics’ ranking from 11% of those surveyed, followed by 10% for car salespeople and a mere 8% for lobbyists. Fifty-eight percent of those responding ranked lobbyists’ ethics as low or very low.

“Nurses have surpassed all other professions every year but one since Gallup first asked about them in 1999,” according to a Gallup press release on the poll. “In 2001, Gallup included firefighters on the list after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and 90% of the public rated their honesty and ethical standards as ‘high’ or ‘very high.’”

Nurses weigh in on most trusted ranking

Bob Dent, RN

Bob Dent, RN

The nursing profession’s distinction in the Gallup Poll validates or reaffirms what nurses do on a regular basis, said American Organization of Nurse Executives President Bob Dent, DNP, RN, CENP, FAAN.

“Whether it’s in a hospital, a long-term care facility, home health or wherever that care is provided, the public trusts nurses, and I think that’s very important,” said Dent, senior vice president, COO and CNO at Midland Memorial Hospital in Midland, Texas.

“Nurses have that innate ability to provide that compassionate care, and that’s reflected by patients and the public in the Gallup Poll every year,” he said.

Karen Hyden-Ratledge, RN

Karen Hyden-Ratledge, RN

A nurse for five years who works on the traumatic brain injury unit at Beaumont Hospital in Taylor, Mich., Karen Hyden-Ratledge, BSN, RN, said nurses share one goal — to improve patient outcomes, optimize quality of life and offer support to patients and their families before, during and after treatment.

“We are strong patient advocates [who] are not intimidated by confronting barriers in achieving these goals,” said Hyden-Ratledge, a DAISY Nurse Honoree.

“Nurses practice with a selfless drive, where status recognition, financial gain or quotas are not in the forefront of the profession — the patient is,” she continued.

The news also is uplifting for student nurses such as Renia Pitre, a 21-year-old BSN student at University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions.

Renia Pitre

Renia Pitre

“I felt such a sense of pride when reading that, once again, nurses are perceived as the most ethical and honest profession,” Pitre said.

“As a student nurse, I am ecstatic to soon be part of the nursing profession and live up to its glowing reputation,” she continued. “I think that nurses outrank other professions even in the realm of healthcare because we provide care to patients in their most vulnerable state and through their most life-altering moments.

“We are at the patients’ bedside, providing quality clinical care and comfort, and above all else, function as advocates,” Pitre added. “It is required of us to build rapport and trust with our patients in order to meet their healthcare needs. I think it reinforces that what we are doing is meaningful, purposeful work and that we leave a lasting impact on patients and families, so much so that they continue to highly regard us.”

Kalenkoski, who graduated with her associate’s degree in nursing in May and transitioned to an RN-to-BSN program at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo., said her goal is to continue the trend set by the Gallup Poll results.

“What’s important for me, being the president of NSNA and working with students, is we’re the future of nursing,” said Kalenkoski.  “Although we have those 16 years, we could have 16 more by building the foundation and really showing students that the profession they’re getting into is a career, but it’s also a lifestyle.”

Freelance writer Lisette Hilton contributed to the research and writing of this article.

Courses related to ‘ethics’

WEB347: 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.

60097: 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.

About the Author:

Sallie Jimenez
Sallie Jimenez is a Content Marketing Manager for, which covers industry news and trends in the nursing profession and health care. Jimenez has more than 25 years of healthcare journalism, content marketing, and editing experience.


  1. Avatar
    Irma D. King January 17, 2018 at 3:14 am - Reply

    My name is Irma King. Renia Pitre is my granddaughter. I personally know that Renia has experienced some “dark” days during the months and years of her training. One outstanding thing amongst several – is that she has continued to demonstrate by example that she has never lost sight of her dedication to care for others. Renia leaves her problems AT HOME – and for that I am very proud of her. This article is a great reflection and a great beacon of Light of some of the things that one – such as myself sometimes have taken for granted – because of how thoroughly these nurses do such a job well done. But it is such great measures of dedication that causes them to appear to others that they complete their daily tasks from day to day with such EASE! Best wishes to each and every single one of you.. And to Renia Pitre – “You Wear it Well” …

  2. Avatar
    Roger Furtado January 25, 2018 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Really heartening to see that nurses are hogging all the lime light and admiration for their selfless services. I often thought that these great souls would remain unsung heroes only to be blessed in the heavens.

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