I was following an interesting conversation on Twitter between several nurses. They were expressing concern about how nursing stereotypes were damaging to their profession. I invited them to discuss the subject with me via podcast.I have summarized some key points below.
You can listen to the whole conversation here.
Gina from Code Blog (6 year veteran blogger, and has spent 11 years as an ICU nurse)
Strong One from My Strong Medicine (an anonymous blogger, athletic trainer and nurse of 3 years)
Terri Polick from Nurse Ratched’s Place (has held various positions in nursing, including psychiatric nursing for 20 years)
Current Nursing Challenges:
1. Nursing Instructor Shortage – nursing instructors make about 25% of the salary of nurses who do clinical work. Therefore, there are long wait times to enter nursing school due to instructor shortages. Many students can’t afford to wait, and choose other careers.
2. Inequality of Respect – some nurses feel that they have to continually prove themselves despite their training and qualifications. Patients often express disappointment or annoyance when they see a nurse practitioner (rather than a physician) in a group practice. Some doctors still expect nurses to give up their chairs when they enter the room.
3. Nursing Stereotypes – the “naughty nurse” and “nurse Ratched” images are still very much in the forefront of peoples minds when they think of nursing as a specialty. Some people believe that nurses simply pass out pills and make coffee, when in reality they are active in complex technical procedures and saving lives. These stereotypes and misconceptions denigrate the education and technical expertise of nurses.
4. Primary Care Doesn’t Pay: nurse practitioners incur higher debt and have lower salaries than specialist nurses. Just as in the medical profession, there are no incentives for nurses to choose careers in primary care.
Strengths of Nursing:
1. Nurses Are Better And Brighter Than Ever – since getting into nursing school is so competitive, the quality of individuals who are entering nursing school has never been higher.
2. Job Flexibility – nurses can easily transition to part time work for maternity purposes. Nursing careers offer a wide variety of work experiences – from nursing home work, to cardiothoracic surgery. One license offers hundreds of various opportunities.
3. Job Satisfaction – saving lives and serving patients contribute to a sense of job satisfaction.
What can be done to improve and advance the US nursing profession?
1. Establish an Office of the National Nurse. The National Nursing Network organization is promoting this initiative. The National Nurse would act as a government spokesperson for nurses- promoting preventive medicine, increasing awareness of nursing, and securing financial support for nurse education. He or she would be the chief nurse officer of the US public health service.
2. Do not be afraid to speak up. Nurses should feel comfortable defending their professional ideals, and discouraging stereotypes.
3. Blog to raise awareness of nursing challenges and successes.