Health professions are the most highly regarded in Australia

Doctors and nurses are still among the most highly regarded professions in Australia, but despite them being lauded for their heroic work throughout the pandemic, they are less well regarded than they were four years ago.

Incredibly, of the 30 professions measured by Roy Morgan research in their Image of Profession Survey,only one was more highly regarded than it was in 2017 – union leaders.

All the other 29 professions surveyed saw their rating fall compared to the 2017 survey.

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While nurses maintained their position at the top of the list, being rated ‘very high’ or ‘high’ for their ethics and honesty by 88 per cent of Australians, that figure was down 6 per cent from the 2017 survey.

Doctors (82 per cent) fell even further than nurses, dropping 7 per cent from the survey that was conducted in 2017, while pharmacists (76 per cent) and dentists (71 per cent) both fell 8 per cent on their 2017 result.

School teachers, who also had to work harder and adapt to a difficult situation during last year’s COVID lockdowns, were the only non-health professionals to finish inside the top five most highly regarded professions, in fourth place with 74 per cent, but that figure was still 7 per cent lower than in 2017.

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Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine explained that nursing has topped the polls as Australia’s most highly regarded profession for 24 straight surveys.

“Nurses have been front and centre around the world during the last year as we have dealt with the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Levine said.

“Luckily for local nurses Australia has dealt exceptionally well with the pandemic and we have largely avoided an out-of-control situation, although many Victorians would fairly argue we came close during the middle of 2020.

“Once again other professions entrusted with looking after our health are close behind with doctors on 82 per cent and pharmacists on 76 per cent filling out the second and third spots overall – although all three leaders have declined from four years ago.”

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While union leaders were the biggest winners from the survey, being 2 per cent more highly regarded than they were four years ago, police were the big losers, dropping 25 per cent from the 2017 survey.

A bare majority of 51 per cent of Australians now rate police ‘very high’ or ‘high’ for ethics and honesty, which is their lowest rating since 1979 when they were only rated 48 per cent.

Despite the common perception that the state governments have done the lion’s share of the work in controlling the spread of the pandemic in Australia, they are no more highly regarded than their federal counterparts with both sets of politicians regarded highly by only 7 per cent of those polled.

The last time federal politicians were rated this poorly John Howard was prime minister.

Politicians are now on par with insurance brokers and only just ahead of real estate agents (5 per cent), advertising people (4 per cent) and car salesmen (3 per cent).

Car salesmen have been the lowest rated profession in every year the survey has been conducted since 1976 and despite starting from such a low base they still managed to drop 1 per cent on their 2017 result.

What professions do you hold in the highest regard and which do you regard as the lowest?

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Written by Ben