When you're sick or hurt, you want to be able to trust that your doctor is a good person who will make choices that are in your best interests. The last thing you want to worry about is that your doctor is simply focusing on his pocketbook, ordering whatever unnecessary tests and treatments will make him the most profit.
Doctors, like some certain other professions, even swear an oath that they'll serve with integrity and do no harm. And for the most part, we can trust that they'll do just that. But not all professions are created equal, and even doctors aren't perfect. They sometimes make mistakes and some even knowingly do unethical things. But compared to other professions, they're still pretty darn trustworthy overall. There are a few obvious examples of ethical professions – and there are some others that may not be quite so predictable. We've recently looked at the most dishonest professions, but which professions do people hold as being the most honest and ethical? Gallup conducted a poll asking people that very question. The survey respondents rated each profession on how ethical or honest they felt they were and Gallup ranked them by the percentages of people who felt they were high or very high on the ethical and honesty standards. The following are the 10 most honest professions out there, at least according to public perception.
10 Nursing Home Operators - 32%
A modest 32% of surveyed respondents felt that Nursing Home Operators were ethical and honest – which seems disturbingly low when you consider that nursing homes are caring for our elderly loved ones. Though they made Gallup's top 10 list, Nursing Home Operators still come in relatively low in terms of people's belief in their ethics and integrity. Still, they come in higher than auto mechanic and bankers – which are both fields in which we put a huge amount of trust, but that an overwhelming number of people don't find very trustworthy at all. In order to run a nursing home in a compassionate manner, the operators would need to be empathetic and ethical in how they handle the patients and their families, and only about a third of the people surveyed felt that they did that.
9 Judges - 45%
It's a judge's duty to be impartial, honest and fair when laying out the law. They must be neutral and discerning, not letting their emotions get in the way of the facts of a case. In a field like this, it's not very surprising that they'd feature highly on Gallup's trustworthy list. Still, like Nursing Home Operators, you might hope their ranking would be a bit better - especially considering how much power they have over people's lives. In some cases, of course, people just don't trust the law in general. Or perhaps they feel that they've been burned in the past. When you consider the fact that no one is perfect, and people have different interpretations of justice, all in all judges stack up pretty well against other professions – specifically compared to those in politics, who tend to have much lower ratings.
8 Daycare Providers - 46%
For most, there is nothing more precious than a child. But often, parents are forced to entrust the care and well being of their little ones to daycare providers. Leaving your children with strangers is a scary and stressful experience, so it's reasonable to assume we want those watching them to be good people. And while “daycare provider” is still considered more ethical than a large chunk of other professions, still not even half the people polled truly felt that day care providers were actually all that ethical. Of course, it's a subjective opinion which comes down to personal experiences - some respondents may have had terrific experiences, while others haven't. Some of those polled may have biases against day care services, and perhaps not everyone polled has children of their own, thus implying a distinct lack of personal perspective on child care professionals.
7 Clergy - 47%
This is yet another field that we might assume would be higher on the list – after all, the clergy dedicates their lives to religion which most would typically assume to be one of those areas where being honest, ethical, and morally upright is sort of a requirement. So, it comes as no surprise they're in the top 10. However, they'd most likely be ranked quite a bit higher if it weren't for some of the horrific corruption and abuse scandals, along with the allegations of wide ranging cover-ups that have been rocking the Catholic church for years. All things considered, it's understandable that some might feel reluctant to trust the church, especially those who aren't religious themselves. Considering a few of the positions that rank above them, this profession really could – and probably should – be doing a lot better in the polls.
6 Police Officers - 54%
If you've been paying attention to the news at all lately, you might be surprised to see police officers on this list at all, much less ranked higher than clergy. But like judges, their duty is to uphold the law and to keep people safe. For those who are on the right side of the law, police officers are a valuable resource. They risk their lives to save others, and while the media often focuses on the too-prevalent and often horrific cases of corrupt and violent law enforcers - those who abuse their power and authority, and victimize those who they are employed to protect - many do actually go into the field for the right reasons and are undeniably important to society as a whole. Still, one can't help but feel that police officers should be aiming for 100% trustworthiness, given the nature of their work.
5 Military Officers - 69%
No one can deny that military forces are deserving of our respect. Those who enlist put their very lives on the line for their country to defend and protect at all costs. It's no wonder then, that they're pretty high on a “most ethical” list given the fact that it seems to take a special kind of person to sign up in the first place. Not everybody is cut out for willingly running into a combat zone to do what others would be afraid to do. Officers in the military have to work their way up, proving themselves every step of the way. While some aren't quite cut out for command, others acquit themselves incredibly well, and it's not surprising that the sort of dedication they show to their country encourages a perception of these men and woman as ethical and trustworthy.
4 Medical Doctors - 69%
If you can't trust your doctor, who can you trust? After all, doctors are specialists who keep us alive and healthy. They spend years upon years studying the human body and learning about everything that can go wrong with it. They dedicate their lives to keeping us alive and healthy. Sure, there are some horrible scare stories about doctors who commit heinous acts, exploiting our faith in their position, and there may be a few who are simply in it to get rich. But most people surveyed don't seem to think of medical doctors that way: 69% of the people surveyed feel that their doctors are ethical.
3 Grade School Teachers - 70%
Like day care providers, grade school teachers have the job of watching over our kids for large portions of the day. And like doctors, they're charged with a very important task for society. They're teaching our children and helping them grow into competent, intelligent and educated adults. Unlike doctors, however, their salaries are usually on the lower end of the spectrum, so for those who do choose to go into the field, it makes sense that they do so because they love it, are passionate about it, and are doing it for the right reasons. And it shows. 70% of people polled believe that grade school teachers are honest and ethical.
2 Pharmacists - 70%
Pharmacists, like doctors, have your health and well-being in the palm of their hands. If they make a mistake, or try to cut corners, well, you could end up very sick - or worse. It's a good thing that along with teachers, 70% of people also trust their pharmacists. Sure, there are many and varied ethical issues with the big pharmaceutical companies that makes many feel that the healthcare industry is far less about the well being of the people and more about profit and making money on the backs of the sick. But that doesn't seem to affect the way we view our pharmacists.
1 Nurses - 82%
A resounding 82% of people trust nurses, which is a big jump from the number two profession on the list. Nurses work long shifts, are often found doing the grunt work at hospitals – and usually get about half the pay of doctors. They deal with the worst parts of hospital life and while they can make a reasonable living, their jobs are exhausting and emotionally difficult. The challenges inherent in the profession tend to weed out those who might not be going into the field for the right reasons, leaving quality nurses doing the job honestly, ethically, and because they truly want to help people. And because of this, people trust them and believe them to be honest and moral - precisely what you need when you're sick or injured. The 18% who don't trust nurses have probably seen Paz de la Huerta in 'Nurse 3D'...