Every nurse should be concerned with the overall image of nursing. Nursing is considered to be the most trusted, honest and ethical profession. The media and the public will continually critique how nurses perform in and out of the clinical setting. Nursing protocols and guidelines have shaped nurses into professionals who have a great deal of knowledge and experience in their particular field. The image of nursing has changed a lot over the years and each nurse has a personal responsibility to maintain a positive overall image (Gambrell, 2004). Nurses should ask themselves how to confront and address the negative images of nursing. We need to be aware of how our appearance affects the delivery of healthcare. Tattoos, piercings and scrubs are very influential in the eyes of the patient and their families. Popular TV shows also portray nurses in a certain way that could cause common misconceptions. In recent years more males have been entering the nursing field and are taking on more duties as role models and mentors who are admired and respected (Hoeve, 2013). Nurses should incorporate communication, collaboration, critical thinking and clinical judgment into every aspect of their job.
These qualities should begin in school and will hopefully remain with the nurse for the entirety of their career. Every single nurse is ultimately responsible for how the profession of nursing is viewed. The “image” of nursing is very subjective and therefore, no absolute definition exits. The majority of a nurse’s work is invisible to all except the patients, their families and the organizations they work for. We’re always being watched and a positive attitude can go a long way in the eyes of the patients and their families. Nurses traditionally don’t have a strong relationship with the media. They tend to focus more on human-interest stories rather than professional abilities. By publicly sharing aspects of our jobs we are then able to enhance the public’s image of nursing. The image of nursing will successfully be enhanced because we will be seen as professionals who care for each other and support one another’s professional growth. I believe that every nurse, from new grads to clinical nurse 4’s, is absolutely responsible for the overall image of nursing. Public opinion shapes political agendas.
Because public opinion is often based on inaccurate images, nurses must participate in the public arena to shape our image (Gambrell, 2004). Nurses are not given due recognition for the skills they have by the majority of the public. The essence of nursing is not always clear and nurses still suffer from many stereotypes including gender. The media often depict nurses working at the patient’s bedside and performing repetitive and routine tasks, mostly as the doctor’s handmaiden. The public image of nurses does not always match their professional image; nurses are not depicted as autonomous professionals and the public is not aware that nowadays nursing is to a great extent a theory-based and scholarly profession (Hoeve, 2013). As nurses, we should always strive to uphold a positive public image, self-concept and professional identity. The self-concept of nurses and their professional identity are determined by many factors, including public image, work environment, work values, education and culture. A negative public image may challenge nurses to look for successful strategies to improve their self-concept and to show their invaluable contribution to the healthcare system. I’m very proud to be in this field.
Gambrell, M. (2004). Improving Our Image a Nurse at a Time. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration, 33(10), 510-511.
Hoeve, Y. T., Jansen, G., & Roodbol, P. (2013). The nursing profession:
public image, self-concept and professional identity. A discussion paper. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(2), 295-309.
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