Respect for America's Doctors

Physician's Money Digest, October31 2003, Volume 10, Issue 20

Want some good news? Accordingto a recent HarrisPoll, Americans continue tohave great respect for physicians. Whilethis news is hardly something doctors cantake to the bank, it may provide comfortduring troubling times in the health careprofession. After all, every satisfying doctor-patient relationship begins and endswith trust and respect.

In an October 2003 poll of more than1000 US citizens, medical doctors earneda vote of "very great prestige" from 52%of those surveyed. In fact, when combiningthe "very great prestige" and "considerableprestige" categories, physicianswon high marks from 83% of those surveyed.Only 3% indicated that doctorshave "hardly any prestige at all."Americans were asked to rate 22 occupationsin the nationwide survey.

Finishing ahead of physicians in the"very great prestige" rankings were scientists(57%) and firemen (55%). Thencame teachers (49%), nurses (47%), militaryofficers (46%), and police officers(42%). The 5 lowest-rated workers werereal estate brokers (6%), stockbrokers(8%), actors (13%), bankers (14%), andaccountants (15%).

Several professions have gained orlost considerable prestige since Harrisfirst conducted the poll in 1977.Teachers have made the biggest jump,up to 49% from 29% in 1977. Militaryofficers also have enjoyed a boost duringthe past quarter century, more thandoubling their "very great prestige"rating since the first poll.

In no surprise to physicians, the legalprofession has suffered the biggestdecline in the "very great prestige" category;lawyers have plummeted from36% in 1977 to 17% in 2003.