The Image and Voice of Nursing
One of the most diverse and powerful profession is nursing. Although it is a powerful profession the image of nursing does not reflect this. The importance of nursing is shaped by the images people see as patients, family members, members of a community and in the media. Over time there have been many images of nursing from angels to sexual cartoons. There have been many nurses who have had a voice and portrayed nursing in a positive light. Leaders and educators within the nursing profession must be the voice of the nursing profession to empower nurses to engage journalist, media, and the public in the profession of nursing.
Historical Image of Nursing
Throughout the years there have been many nurses that have imprinted a positive image of nurses such as Clara Barton, Walt Whitman, and Dorothea Dix. One of the most iconic images of nurses is Florence Nightingale who is still perceived as the leader of research and promoting the nursing profession. Florence Nightingale was a voice for nursing by changing perceptions of nursing through her efforts to reform the British military health care system, education, and research, especially in hygiene and reduction of death rates due to infections. It was her work during the Crimean War that started the tales of the “Lady with the Lamp” (Small, 2000). She had over 200 publications, with her most famous and well known book Notes on Nursing which served as the curriculum at the Nightingale school of nursing and eventually other schools. Throughout her career she continued promoting the need to improving patient care by utilizing the press (Monteiro, 1985). Upon her death she had become one of the most influential women of the 19th century. Her lantern represents the positive light of the nursing profession. Nursing Portrayal in the Media
Television is one of the most popular news mediums in America today. The portrayal and images of nursing on television have for the most part been fictional and distorted. Negative stereotypes such as, overbearing, sexual, and incompetence make up most of the television shows and sitcoms. One television show that portrayed such an image was the series MASH, with one main character named Hot Lips Houlihan. Hot Lips was a loud, red-lipstick wearing nurse with large breasts, and was depicted as a sex object more than a nurse. Cartoons and print images have also taken part in the misrepresentation of the nursing profession such as the cartoon character Betty Boop as a nurse, and the popular naughty nurse outfits. These images stereotype nurses in a negative way, and are not reflective of the true value nurses provide to their patients and the community. Nursing is frequently seen as emotional work, assistants to physicians and not focusing on the contributions to research for improving patient care and the everyday clinical challenges they face. The information provided to the media is invaluable in making the nursing profession visible. When communicating with the media, nurses must be credible, enthusiastic and display a professional appearance (Buresh & Gordon,2006).
As the image of nursing has changed over the years so has the nurses’ appearance. Uniform companies have played a big role in how nurses dress today, with the inundation of uniform catalogs and hundreds of pages of cartoon character scrubs such as, Betty Boop, Snoopy, and an array of animal characters. Why do nurses not want to earn the respect so well deserved? If we were to look at other professions such as firefighters and police officers they have a strict dress code and would not think to throw on a tee shirt with goofy imprinted all over
themselves while out on patrol or fighting a fire. What has happened to the official white uniform that represented nurses? Nurses are severely under-represented in print media, including in the area of...
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