Nursing topped a recent Gallup poll as the most honest and ethical profession for the 20th straight year. The poll, conducted from November 9 through December 2, 2022, ranked a diverse list of 17 professions, with 79 percent of U.S. adults saying nurses had “very high” or “high” honesty and ethical standards. The rating was 10 percent below the 89 percent nurses garnered in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Still, nursing ranked far ahead of all other professions. Medical doctors and pharmacists came in second and third with 62 percent and 58 percent ratings.
The recognition underscores the fundamental importance and vital role the more than 4 million nurses play in our communities across the country.
Gallup started the poll in 1976 and has updated it annually for the last 30 years. Nurses have owned the No. 1 ranking except for one year since their profession was added in 1999. The exception came in 2001 after the September 11 terrorist attacks when firefighters received a record-high 90 percent rating. In addition to nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, only teachers received a positive rating (53 percent) from surveyed U.S. adults. Telemarketers were in last place, with most respondents having a low or very low opinion of the profession’s ethicality.
The favorable view of nurses perseveres in the wake of an ongoing staffing shortage. Last fall, the drastic increase in respiratory syncytial virus or RSV cases among children in the United States overwhelmed hospital staff and underscored the need for more pediatric nurses. And now hospitals are preparing for a triple threat of RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 cases while they continue to struggle to fill positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an additional 276,800 registered nurses positions by 2030 as the general population grows older and rates of chronic illness such as heart disease and diabetes increase.
In a 2022 report by McKinsey & Company, McKinsey contended the U.S. needed to “more than double the number of new graduates and those staying in the workforce [nursing] for the next three years.” McKinsey recommended healthcare providers, federal and state governments, private-sector organizations, and the broader society all play a role in addressing the issue.
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