Nursing remains the most honest and ethical profession, according to new results from a Gallup Poll in which Americans rate the honesty and ethical standards of 22 professions.
Nursing holds its first place position for the 16th consecutive year; it has placed number one in all but one poll since Gallup first surveyed people about professional ethics in 1999. Gallup conducted the poll December 4 through 11, 2017, via telephone interviews with 1,049 adults. The respondents rated other professions too, including medical doctors, police officers, judges, car salespeople, lobbyists and even state officeholders and members of Congress.
An overwhelming 82 percent rated nursing ethics as “high” or “very high.” Sixteen percent of respondents rated nursing ethics as “average,” while 2 percent rated nursing ethics as “very low” or “low.”
The second through fifth most ethical professions were military officers, grade school teachers, medical doctors, and pharmacists, respectively.
About Ethics in Nursing
Ethics are fundamental to the nursing profession. A patient puts his or her life and well-being into a nurse’s hands at every nursing intervention. While a patient benefits emotionally from a nurse’s compassion and empathy, a patient relies on a nurse’s ethics and honesty.
Nurses serve as advocates for the rights, health, and safety of the patients under their care. They are also responsible for their patients’ families and associated groups. For example, a nurse focuses on the health and well-being of a patient with an infectious disease, but is also concerned with the overall health and welfare of the family, friends and co-workers who may have contracted the infection. In some cases, nurses must inform families, business associates or communities about a patient’s treatment and progress, but only when doing so is ethical, appropriate for community health and compliant with patient privacy laws.
It is up to the nursing code of ethics to help nurses make tough decisions on behalf of the patients and the communities in which they live.
Nursing schools offer ethics courses to help students navigate ethical decisions professional nurses make every day. Many courses teach the four principles of ethics in healthcare:
- Autonomy – respecting a patient’s right to make decisions regarding care
- Beneficence – compassion and desire to do good
- Nonmaleficence – the avoidance of harm
- Fidelity – truthfulness, honesty, loyalty, advocacy and dedication to patients
The American Nurses Association has developed the Code of Ethics for Nurses in 1950 to serve as a guide that assists nurses in their day-to-day decisions regarding patient outcome. The code articulates the moral foundations of the profession.
The ethics training in nursing schools and standards set by national organizations certainly help improve the perception of ethics and honesty among nurses, but it is actually the nurses themselves that are honest and ethical. Most students who enter the nursing profession honestly want to help others; that sincerity and compassion continues through the course of a nurse’s career.