Each year, Americans rank nurses as the most honest and ethical professionals along, generally followed by doctors and pharmacists.

In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., grade school teachers join the three medical professions in the annual Gallup Poll on the top-ranked professions for honest and ethical behavior in America as we enter 2021 with many U.S. hospitals’ intensive care units at full capacity….and schools largely emptied of students.

The three health care professions scored their highest marks ever achieved in this Gallup Poll, which has been assessing honesty and ethics in America since 1999.

Nurses are always highest-ranking in this study, this year gaining four more percentage points reaching the apex of 89. The only year nurses placed second in this study was 2001, when firefighters took the top spot as a reaction to 9/11.

Interestingly, pharmacists’ reputation increase of 7 percentage points built on the profession’s turnaround after dipping during the height of the opioid crisis.

At the opposite end of the reputation spectrum, for several years in a row, Members of Congress, ad agency practitioners, and car sales folks fell to the bottom of the list on honesty and ethics.

By party ID, there are major differences in how Democrats vs. Republicans see these professions. There are a few categories that enjoy respect from both Dems and GOP members: the smallest net differences between Democrats and Republicans are for lawyers, car salespeople, ad practitioners, pharmacists, nurses, and Members of Congress.

At opposite ends of the approval spectrum are the most-favored for honest and ethics among Republicans, police officers; and for Democrats, journalists. The delta net difference between each of these is 43 percentage points.

Police officers also garner large reputational differences for honesty and ethics between White and Non-White Americans (59% positive among Whites vs. 39% for Non-Whites); and, higher rankings among older Americans (62% with positive perceptions for adults 55 and over) compared with 35% of the youngest Americans.

FYI and context, here are links to past posts exploring this important Gallup Poll…

2020 – Nurses continue to reign #1 in honesty and ethics

2018 – Nurses are the most trusted profession in America

2017 – Nurses rank highest for ethics in American professions once again in Gallup Poll

2016 – Nursing is seen as the most ethical profession in America; Congress Members, least

Health Populi’s Hot Points: With so many issues polarizing Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. approaching the 2021 New Year, it’s a positive signal that Americans across party ID value the honest and ethical behavior of the three health care professions gauged in the annual Gallup Poll: nurses above all, followed by physicians and pharmacists.

That union of partisans who value and respect the front-line health care workers in the thick of the pandemic public health crisis represents an opportunity to unite people around the health citizenship call-to-action: that we must re-build the U.S. health care system with a strong labor force of human capital of nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, the latter of which will play a growing role over time delivering primary care, counsel, and medical supports to health consumers at and closer-to-home.

One of the most-valued front doors for health care in the pandemic has been the grocery store, along with the pharmacy embedded in the grocer’s brick-and-mortar building. That pharmacist will be a trusted local touchpoint and health coach through the pandemic and then once the virus is overcome by Americans’ immunity to it via vaccination later in 2021.

I see this communion as a sort of collective American hug around nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, a rallying strategy for helping to bring people together at this fractured moment in U.S. political and social culture. Here’s a lens through which we can unite U.S. health citizens for public health and a new social contract for health care and well-being — love for our medical professionals who are, in fact, taking care of those whom we ourselves love.