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Among professions, physicians land No. 3 slot for ethics and honesty

Results of a national Gallup poll show physicians are connecting with patients in positive ways, DO believes.

A recent Gallup poll found that, out of a list of more than 20 professions, physicians were rated third highest for honesty and high ethical standards by the public.

This didn’t surprise Layne Subera, DO.

“Physicians have always been highly regarded by the communities that they serve,” Dr. Subera, who is on the AOA Ethics Subcommittee, wrote in an email to The DO. “They are especially well-regarded in rural areas, where they may be among the few citizens outside of the clergy who may have had formal training in ethics and philosophy.”

Since the ’70s and ’80s, public opinion of physicians’ morality has become more favorable, according to the poll. In 1977, 54% of respondents rated the honesty and ethical standards of physicians as very high or high. In 1981, that figure was 50%. But in the most recent poll, conducted last month, 67% of respondents gave physicians a very high or high rating for honesty and ethics.

“Public perception of physicians has improved because organized medicine has taken an active role in promoting and growing biomedical ethics,” Dr. Subera wrote. “Ethics courses are now common in medical schools and at continuing education events.”

At No. 3, physicians fell behind nurses and pharmacists, who received the first and second slots, respectively.

“The top three most ethical professions are health-care-related,” Dr. Subera wrote. “That should make physicians feel positive about the services they are providing. They are connecting with people where it matters.”

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