Doctors overtake pharmacists in image poll

survey tick approval poll vote

When it comes to perception of ethics and honesty across professions, pharmacists have dropped down the ranks

Health professionals have continued their domination of Australia’s most highly regarded professions.

Australia’s most highly regarded professionals in Roy Morgan’s 2017 Image of Professions survey were nurses, with 94% of Australians (up 2% from 2016) rating nurses ‘very high’ or ‘high’ for their ‘ethics and honesty’.

Nurses have been rated as Australia’s most trusted profession in every year they’ve been included in the survey, and have rated at least 90% in each of the past seven years – no other profession has ever rated higher than 89%.

Last year pharmacists had an approval rating of 86%, putting them at equal second alongside doctors.

But while doctors gained some ground this year, moving up to 89% approval rating, pharmacists lost points, dropping down to 84% and into third place.

Roy Morgan Research described pharmacists as the “odd health-related profession out in 2017”, with the 2% drop the only negative movement for any of the surveyed health-related professions this year.

Meanwhile an 89% rating for doctors is an all-time high for the profession, which has climbed the ranks from 62% in 1989.

Dentists lagged behind all other health-related professions at 79%.

According to Roy Morgan, it was 1989 when dentists were last rated above any other health profession.

In that year dentists rated ‘very high’ or ‘high’ for their ‘ethics and honesty’ among 65% of Australians, above doctors at 62%.

The list includes (among others):

  • Nurses (94%)
  • Doctors (89%)
  • Pharmacists (84%)
  • School teachers (81%)
  • Engineers (80%)
  • Dentists (79%)
  • University lecturers (66%)
  • Accountants (50%)
  • Lawyers (35%)
  • Ministers of religion (34%)
  • Newspaper journalists (20%)
  • Federal MPs (16%)
  • State MPs (16%)
  • Talk-back radio announcers (14%)
  • Advertising people (5%)
  • Car salesman (4%, the lowest rating in the survey, which they have held for over 30 years)

Roy Morgan conducted the telephone survey conducted in late May this year, with 648 Australian men and women aged 14 and over.

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  1. Gavin Mingay

    Thank you warehouse pharmacies…

  2. John Wilks

    This drop in credibility and trust is directly and unarguably attributable to the proliferation of Discount pharmacies in Australia. How can we expect the public to see us as anything other than ‘proud to be cheap’ purveyors of crass merchandising of the 3Ts – toilet rolls, toothpaste and tissues.

    After 23 years of operating under the Pharmacist Advice banner – a noble attempt at marking out a clear clinical point of difference in the marketpalce – I sold. This was at the time when the rush to the bottom of the price point principle was in its embryonic stage.

    Unless and until the profession returns to a strong clinically focused modus operandi these numbers show little prospective of improving. As Gerry Seinfeld once acerbically commented, a pharmacist is a man in a white coat selling $5 watches. Ouch.

    I have been in hospital pharmacy now for some years and the sense of collaborative decision making and respect between doctors, nurses, OTs, physios and pharmacists is truly remarkable.

    I feel nothing but sympathy for all those wonderful pharmacists who work for barista wages after 5 years of professional training.

    • Vignesh Lingam

      The dollar discount model accompanied by all the bad publicity and the divisive comments by some pharmacy groups disparaging pharmacies opting not to offer the discount has to have been damaging. As you have so clearly articulated John, a clinical approach with growth in professional services beneficial for our patients is the only way we can halt this decline in trust.

    • Karalyn Huxhagen

      Absolutely agree with John. As a HMR pharmacist the biggest gripe consumers have is that they get a different generic every time they visit the pharmacy. I explain that we are under intense pressure with medication shortages at the moment which makes generic swapping a necessity. The consumer sees it as a money grab by the pharmacy. They are led to this understanding by the heavy discounting of services such as immunisation between phcy groups and the non stop media by CW and others that cheaper is available. we have an image of being more concerned about the bottom line than we do about better health outcomes.
      Everything they see n TV, Billboards and magazines in relation to pharmacy is about cheap services, cheap vitamins, perfumes and products that they may need. There is very little advertising about the value of a professional pharmacist in improving their health.

      • Andrew

        >>> I explain that we are under intense pressure with medication shortages at the moment which makes generic swapping a necessity. The consumer sees it as a money grab by the pharmacy.

        I think we can all agree on what is the most true of these two options. I’ve never made a generic deal based on availability, I doubt many others have either.

    • Max Timmins

      Well said John.

      Such a disappointment and I don’t see it turning around any time soon. The discount model has destroyed traditional pharmacy, and patients and employees have suffered together.

      In saying that, I am much less concerned with how the profession as a whole is viewed than I am with whether I and my colleagues in my current workplace are perceived as trusted professionals by the vast majority of our customers. I have no doubt that we are.

      One thing that discounters do provide consumers with is a yardstick to measure the clinical point of difference ‘pharmacist advice’ models provide. I thank them for that.

  3. Brettthereluctantpharmacist

    I think we can consider ourselves lucky that we scored as high as we did. Note, I’m referring very much to the profession as a whole and not the individual pharmacist. (Although, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys?)
    Pharmacies that look like two dollar shops can’t possibly inspire confidence from the public.
    Coupled with the truly staggering variation in script prices between pharmacies, yes … thank you discounters for lowering not only the prices but the entire tone and character of the pharmacy profession.
    @Mr Wilks … kudos to you sir for making the move to hospital (read: real) pharmacy. Me? I’m gonna flog this this dead horse until the bank drag me outta here kicking and screaming (and crying).

  4. Philip Smith

    I wonder where they take the surveys?
    Sadly daily I am helping people who don’t trust their doctor opinion, have wasted time (and lots of money) with specialist who talk over top of them and can’t explain or dismiss problem.
    While they have swipped their Medicare card and claimed for their time, I get to possibly claim for a 50c intervention!

  5. geoff

    such gloomy comments about a great result. pharmacists are still some of the most trusted and more available than any of the others A 2 % variation in a survey over a year would have to be considered insignificant- pollsters haven’t had much success recently a la Trump, Brexit and UK elections.
    We are rated in the top percentile and have done for a long time- it is great to be part of such a highly regarded profession

  6. Pete

    I wonder who does these polls – I’ve never been asked, nor do I know anyone that’s been asked. what sort of questions did they ask to get the result. More likely this has to do with 1. almost everyone having a nurse in their extended family. 2. People not wanting to look foolish when answering a survey (Ie: going against the cliche of those professions we like to ragg as human). Indeed, if 84% of people don’t trust politicians – why do we maintain a system of government at all? Do engineers have a public interface at all – what happened to make 20% of people distrust them.??? What a waste of time Roy. with only 600 people surveyed can we say ‘fake poll’.

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