Pharmacists: A Profession People Trust

January 8, 2019

Pharmacists retain their spot in third place among trusted professions because of their attention to customers.

Pharmacists continue to be one of the most trusted professionals in the United States, says Gallup’s annual survey.

Pharmacists are ranked in third place in 2018 in terms of honesty and ethical standards, according to Gallup’s report, Americans’ Rating on the Honesty and Ethical Standards of Professions, 2018 (Trends). Pharmacists regularly rank as the second most honest and ethical profession in Gallup's Poll. Since 2002, pharmacists ceded the second spot to medical doctors just three times, in 2003, 2017, and 2018.

Nurses are ranked in first place, with an 84% rating in honesty and ethics, followed by 67% for medical doctors and 66% for pharmacists. The three least-trusted professions include: members of Congress (8%), car salespeople (8%), and telemarketers (9%).

“It is no surprise that pharmacists again are rated by Americans for their honesty and ethical standards. A majority of Americans come into regular contact with pharmacists, and their high rating speaks to the high level of care provided by pharmacists, putting the patient’s needs first and foremost,” Douglas J. Scheckelhoff, MS, FASHP, senior vice president of practice advancement at ASHP, tells Drug Topics.

While pharmacists were ranked slightly higher in 2018 than in 2017, it is difficult to compare rankings from year-to-year, since Gallup rotates different occupations into the survey each year, Jeff Jones, senior editor with Gallup, tells Drug Topics. “I think it would be best to say [pharmacists are] in the second tier of professions, after nurses, and have been for many years,” Jones says.

Pharmacists’ ranking in Gallup’s annual poll has been stable the past five years, averaging 66%, Jones says.

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However, there was a slight increase in pharmacists’ ratings between 2004 and 2013, when pharmacists’ ranking averaged 70 percent. From 1981 to 2003, the average ranking was 65 percent.

“Overall, the public has consistently rated their trust in pharmacists quite high,” adds Lucinda Maine, PhD, RPh, executive president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP).

“AACP is very pleased to see pharmacists, along with our nursing and medical colleagues, at the top of the Gallup poll. This has been a point of pride for the profession for decades, and is a key metric in the public campaign we launched late last year,” Maine says, referring to the Pharmacists for Healthier Lives public awareness campaign.

Before the holiday season, Pharmacists for Healthier Lives’ paid media resulted in more than 10 million impressions in its target markets. “The categories that seemed most receptive to our messages were women identified as suburban moms as well as caregivers. Those are exactly the people we want to inform about pharmacists’ services, accessibility, and how much they care for those they serve,” Maine says.

Still, AACP recognizes that factors such as higher patient copays and obstacles like prior authorization “put pharmacists in challenging positions with their patients at times,” Maine says. “We believe the trust rating reflects the fact that pharmacists are seen as working hard on behalf of their patients to help them get the medicines they need as efficiently as possible. Expanded roles for pharmacists in many states (eg, prescribing hormonal contraception and administering point-of-care testing) may also contribute to consumers’ opinions.”