The image of nursing as portrayed by the media swings like a pendulum in between negative and positive attributes. However, most times, the portrayal is more on the negative side. Most nurses will readily agree to the fact that the way the media paints the profession is way beyond what they believe in or practice. Indeed, it falls short of fair and truthful image.
In as much as all other media- newspaper, TV ,Radio, Internet services e.t.c are to an extent guilty of this same negative depiction of nurses, Hollywood paints the worst pictures and theirs greatly mold the public opinion and view of nursing as pictures don’t need million words to be captivating! These stereotypes about nursing are largely planted and nurtured by Hollywood shows and spread throughout the world.
As far back as 1932, Hollywood in its film “A farewell to Arms” depicted nursing as having no security and autonomy. The chief nurse in the film was shown as being weak, helpless and reluctant to fight for a nurse who was dismissed because a surgeon believed that she was a distraction to his ambulance driver. In other words, physicians dictate what happens in nursing. With that coward perspective, many nurses entered into the profession answering ‘yes doctor’ to all orders without any question. Nurses are then at the receiving end of Doctors’ and patients’ bullying.
In more recent times, nursing is still depicted as being reserved for those who are not able to make it to college or medical schools. This is seen in the movies like House, Gracie, Grey’ anatomy, Akeelah & the bee and others. Nurses were either seen idling, rattling, bemoaning their fate or submissively stupid leaving the physicians with all the decisions and care of their patients.
Also in ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ (2006), nurses were portrayed as those needing attitudinal changes. Tanya in the film is a nurse but seen very angry all the time, not encouraging her daughter and smoking in a house
References: Laura A. Stokowski (2010) : A letter to Hollywood. Nurses are not Handmaiden. Medscape. Sandy and Harry Summers (2010): Saving lives: Why the media portraya of nurses puts us al at risk. Retrieved from http://www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practce/clinical-zones/educators/the-image-of-nursing...1/21/2013