For the 18th consecutive year, Americans rated the honesty and ethics of nurses highest among professions in a Gallup survey. A whopping 85% of Americans say nurses’ honesty and ethical standards are “very high” or “high”, up a tick from 84% the previous year.

According to Gallup[i], “Medical professions in general rate highly in Americans’ assessments of honesty and ethics, with at least six in 10 U.S. adults saying medical doctors, pharmacists and dentists have high levels of these virtues. Nurses are consistently rated higher in honesty and ethics than all other professions that Gallup asks about, by a wide margin.”

Nurses’ extraordinary run in the Gallup survey comes during the World Health Organization’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife, making now is a great time to recognize the nurses in your organization.

Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association (ANA), says patients and their family members trust nurses because, “we’re there 24-7 from birth to the end of life.” Nurses are not only excellent clinicians, they are well trained in delivering care with compassion and empathy. “They know we are their advocates. It’s who we are. We’ve always been there.”

Nurses’ training and the connections they make with patients – and the trust those patients have in them – can result in better health.

“Patients will tell nurses things they won’t tell their doctors or even their family members because of that trust,” Grant says. “For example, they may tell us about their reluctance to take a certain medication, or how taking it makes them feel. With that knowledge, we can find alternatives or make sure they’re taking it the right way. That leads to better compliance and positive patient outcomes.”

We’re also more likely to listen to nurse’s advice.

“When you have trust with a patient, they’re more likely to believe when you explain that they can take a 50-cent pill to prevent a stroke and continue to be a productive member of society or ignore that and possibly lose that productivity and drive up exorbitant bills,” he notes.

With the highest ratings for honesty and ethics, nurses make excellent leaders.

“One thing I do is encourage nurses to take more leadership positions,” Grant says. Whether it’s higher-level jobs in healthcare or serving on company or community boards, nurses bring a unique perspective and teamwork expertise. Being on the board at church, serving on the school board, or running for Congress – nurses understand how decisions impact the people they care for and what services are truly needed. To get more nurses involved in corporate and community leadership, the ANA has launched the Nurses on Boards initiative.

With the spotlight trained on these vital professionals, Grant wants to use the opportunity to showcase the real work nurses do, illustrate their impact on our broader communities, and promote their ethics and honesty.

“We don’t take that trust lightly and we do everything we can to maintain it,” he says.


[i] Permission to cite and link received via email.

About Margot Carmichael Lester

Margot Carmichael Lester is a North Carolina-based freelance business journalist who has been covering healthcare and staffing for more than 20 years. She also writes about moviemaking for the International Cinematographers Guild, specializing in action cinema. Margot co-authored the award-winning teen writing book Be a Better Writer with her husband, Steve Peha. She earned her BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and is a rabid Tar Heel basketball fan.