This year's update, from a Nov. 28-Dec. 1 Gallup poll, finds Americans rating the honesty and ethical standards of 3 medical professions -- nurses, pharmacists, and doctors -- the highest of the 21 professions tested.
Nurses consistently top the list, having done so each year since they were first included in 1999 - apart from 2001, when firefighters were included on a one-time basis to measure public support for them after their heroic actions on 9/11.
In addition to nurses and firefighters, medical doctors (1976), clergy (1977, 1981, 1983, 1985), and pharmacists (1988 and 1990-1998) have also ranked as the top-rated profession in a given year.
The 84 percent of Americans who rate the honesty and ethics of nurses as very high or high in this year's Gallup poll is tied for the highest rating nurses have received. They achieved the same rating in 2001, 2006 and 2008.
:We hold that trust as a sacred bond with our patients and our communities," says Karen Higgins, RN, co-president of National Nurses United, the nation's largest union and professional association of registered nurses.
"Patients and their families expect nurses to fight for them at the bedside, even when it conflicts with the profit motive of far too many hospital managers, insurance companies, and others in the healthcare industry who put the bottom line above patient interest."
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Congress is the only profession that established a new low rating for the profession this year. Sixty-four percent of Americans rate the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress as "low" or "very low," tying the record "low"/"very low" rating Gallup has measured for any profession historically.
Gallup has asked Americans to rate the honesty and ethics of numerous professions since 1976, including annually since 1990.