Do People Think Your Profession Is Trustworthy?

Pharmacists are trustworthyThis article originally appeared on

By Timothy Mullaney

The evil Nurse Ratched, of Ken Kesey's classic "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," might be one of the most infamous villains of literature and film, but according to a new poll, she didn't ruin Americans' opinions of her profession.

In 2011, nurses topped the annual Gallup poll rating the most honest professions for the 12th consecutive year. Of the 1,012 American adults Gallup surveyed, 84 percent rated the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as high or very high. Two other health care professions -- pharmacist and medical doctor -- came in at No. 2 and No. 3, scoring 73 percent and 70 percent, respectively. At 62 percent, high school teachers claimed the fourth spot, and at 54 percent, police officers rounded out the top five.

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Do People Think Your Profession Is Trustworthy?
1. Nurses

While the Gallup poll reveals that Americans hold health care professionals in high esteem generally, nurses may consistently top the list because their interactions with patients are often very personal. Nurses are responsible for much of the hands-on, day-to-day delivery of health care in the U.S.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most registered nurses enter the profession with a bachelor of science in nursing or an associate degree in nursing. The BLS-reported 2010 mean annual wage for a registered nurse was $67,720, and the agency projects 22 percent growth for the profession between 2008 and 2018.

Is nursing for you? The Department of Labor says nursing is a great occupation for people who are social, enjoy mental problem-solving, are detail- and data-oriented, and operate effectively in situations where there is a clear hierarchy of authority.

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2. Pharmacists

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration identifies numerous ways errors can be made when it comes to delivering the proper drugs to patients, including misinterpreted handwriting, drug name confusion and unclear labeling. The high Gallup score for pharmacists is a testament to the scrupulousness of the people who provide the medications that can heal or harm us.

To become a pharmacist, you typically need about six years of schooling, resulting in a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a professional license, according to the BLS. Pharmacists earned a BLS-reported 2010 mean annual wage of $109,380, and the BLS predicts the profession to grow 17 percent between 2008 and 2018. Pharmacy technicians have fewer educational requirements, with programs running from six months to two years. They made an average of $29,330 in 2010, according to the BLS, and employment is expected to increase 25 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Is pharmacy for you? The Department of Labor says successful pharmacists are very attentive to detail, take pleasure in social interaction and have an aptitude for science.

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3. Doctors

Americans literally entrust doctors with their lives. If Americans trust their physicians, it may be because the rigorous schooling they are put through weeds out all but the most qualified. It typically takes between 11 and 16 years to complete the undergraduate school, medical school, internship and residency required to become a doctor, according to the BLS.

For their hard and crucial work, doctors are well-compensated, with family and general practitioners earning a 2010 BLS-reported mean annual wage of $173,860 and surgeons earning a mean salary of $225,390. The BLS predicts the same 2008-2018 growth rate for doctors as for nurses: 22 percent.

Is medicine for you? Needless to say, doctors tend to be very hard-working and intelligent individuals who have the social aptitude necessary for interacting with patients in sometimes difficult circumstances.

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4. High school teachers

If doctors can often seem like Olympian authorities we turn to in moments of urgent need, high school teachers are the professionals we trust on a day-to-day basis, as they tackle the challenge of educating the country's young people.

High school teachers typically need to complete a bachelor's degree program and teacher education program, according to the BLS. The BLS-reported 2010 mean annual wage for high school teachers was $55,990, and the 2008-2018 projected growth for the profession is 9 percent.

Is teaching for you? The Department of Labor says high school teachers generally are excellent at interpersonal communication, thrive in environments where there are not clearly defined rules, and are able to take risks and make decisions.

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5. Police officers

Like the evil nurse, the crooked cop is an iconic character in fiction, but the Gallup poll indicates when it comes to real life, most Americans trust that police officers will protect rather than take advantage of people. The BLS points out there are many different kinds of police agencies at both the state and federal level, so requirements for becoming a police officer vary. But generally, at least a high school education is necessary (and many applicants have some college credits, the BLS reports), as well as rigorous training at a specialized academy and on the job.

Police patrol officers earned a 2010 mean annual wage of $55,620, according to the BLS, and the projected 2008-2018 growth rate for the profession is 9 percent.

Is law enforcement for you? Police officers are typically good at solving problems using practical, hands-on methods, according to the Department of Labor. They also tend to thrive in a strictly hierarchical environment, are decisive and social.

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