22.01.2018 in Nursing
Image and Voice of Nursing

Nursing has one of the oldest careers histories. In fact, it has commonly being called the oldest art and the youngest profession in existence. The reason for the longevity of nursing is that it is attributed to the history of woman kind. This is such that their histories are one and the same in a way. For one, the word itself has many connotations that have changed over the course of history and the words ‘nursing and ‘nurse have many meanings to choose from. The word ‘nurse comes from the Latin word, which is ‘nutrire’, which means to nurture.

The French word ‘nourrice’ signified a woman breastfeeding her child and the term got picked up by the English language in the thirteenth century. Needless to say, the term underwent linguistic evolution to what is used in the English language to date (Patricia, 1996). The evolution also affected its meaning to refer to a woman who tended to the young children. By the sixteenth century, this changed to a woman who tends to the sick. During the nineteenth century, there were two other components added to the field, which were training to those who tended to the ill, and the other was the direction given by a physician and the carrying out of these duties.

It is thought that because of maternal instinct in the female gender that they are the best candidates for the job. They are born nurses because of their role in a family, which is tending to the children in most cases. However, there is no sexual boundary for the art as human beings all have a tendency to respond to helplessness and disease as well as injury. Of course, the role of a nurse expanded to more including care for the infirm, aged and the handicapped. The development of nursing became dependent on skill as well as a knowledge base that was reliable.

Nursing image as portrayed by the media

However, in the end nursing, bases on the society have and will only continue to exist as long as the society continues to have a need for the services. When it comes to health organizations, one of the most important thongs is to communicate effectively with the public. Unfortunately, the television mixes things up by product placement, which doctors overshadow, the nursing profession in a bid to convey their messages to viewers. In fact, in the year 2025, the US can expect a shortage of at least 250000 registered nurses (Bishop, 2009). The contemporary media are ignoring the nursing field by putting the physician on a platform.

A study by health affairs in 2006 revealed that if hospitals increased the number of staffing hours of nursing care for each patient more than 6700 patient deaths would be avoided each year. However, it seems that the media is ignoring this fact, much to the detriment of the patients. The most watched shows on medicine are physician dominated affairs that show little or not truth about the career of nursing. Some examples are ER, House, and Grey’s anatomy. These three have large scale audiences that span across the country and even abroad.

All of these three do not give a positive image of the nursing profession as it should be and basically undermine the nursing profession as a whole. The negative images that are portrayed about the nursing lifestyle are some of the reasons for the overall nursing shortage that is plaguing so many hospitals across the country. This could be misrepresenting, insulting, or undermining of the profession, but the fact remains that the media has not done such a good job in giving health education in this respect (Bishop, 2009).

It should realize that some of its actions have consequences and that not everything that is for the sake of entertainment registers. Meaning that people learn from the projections of the media, and if these are negative propaganda about a certain career, there will be less people wanting to associate themselves with the profession. According to the institute of medicine, nurses are the largest group of health care professionals in hospitals that provide direct care for their patients.

In fact, the quality of care for hospital patients happens to be measured using the performance of the nursing staff. On the contrary, the media seem to reflect the opposite of this fact. Nurses are some of the underdogs, and if one were to take an example of Fox networks ‘House’ nurses do not even count worth the background noise. They sometimes walk in and out of the scenes wearing scrubs and holding clipboards. In other TV dramas such as Grey’s anatomy, they have some of the shortest lines and appearance on screen (Bishop, 2009).  

The invisibility of nurses in these dramas may reflect on their careers as being quite useless and sends the wrong message to the viewers. The public may be convinced into thinking that nurses are unnecessary, uneducated and under the supervision of the doctors such that they control no power or purpose of their own. The reality is quite different as nurses work autonomously and are very essential to the success of any health institution. The fact is that the future of the career depends on the portrayals of the media. If the media show nurses as being ignorant to the field of medicine, who would want to associate themselves with the field in the first place.

If one wants to destroy a certain career nowadays, all they have to do is damage its respectability. This way the future people in that field would opt to go in another direction if they feel that it is not profitable for them to go into the field, which besides not being as admirable as before, no longer has the customer base it once had especially if it is in the field of sales. The image presented on this dramas matters a lot because, for example, in the TV drama house. Some of the nurses are much older and less attractive than the rest of the cast. In short, they provide a backdrop for the overall mood of the show.

The same goes for the other shows like Grey’s anatomy. The nurses’ end having an image that makes them seems as having marginal skills and no attractive quality for their career. The show that does a bit of justice is ER (Bishop, 2009). Out of the three episodes, this is the program that gives a decent image to the nurse profession. Nurses here have more prominent roles and patient interactions than the other shows. It gives a more realistic representation of the field of nursing by allowing for more dialogue between the patient and the doctor.

This illustration may not be quite the accurate one, although it does show that nurses spend time with their patients working hand in hand with the physicians. However, the approach that sees the physician as the centre of attention has led to the failure of bringing out the vital role of nurses for the audience. The current nursing shortage is as a result of factors such as retention and recruitment. When television programs depict that nurses do not provide critical medical care, the public may get confused. As a matter of fact, RN staffing levels often are the link between whether a patent lives or dies.

Nursing leadership and its impact on nursing image

The profession leadership discourse especially in the united kingdom of late has been concerned about the professional issues and, as a result, been focused on the development of nurses and nursing in general. Case studies have shown links between the nursing profession and political success. Nursing and nursing leadership thus depend on the impact of politics and the policies that come along with them. Effective nurse leadership is a vehicle that both nursing practice and health policy can be influenced.

Leaders have mostly been concerned with orienting the profession to discuss the nursing profession. The leadership discourse within the UK has only recently considered the role of nursing leadership as having an effect on health policy. The relationship between nursing and health policy has been documented before, and it has been established that nursing exists in a political vacuum (Antrobus and Kitson, 1999). Health policy is formulated with little consultation from the nurses expect at the grass roots level. Here, the nurses can be allowed a bit of freedom. The focus of nursing leadership at the present shows the political invisibility of nursing.

This acknowledges the void between the health policies and the nursing practice. If the leaders seem disinterested with the field itself preferring to concentrate on the politics solely, this damages the profession. The career comes off as having a bureaucratic nature in the eyes of the public while it should have nothing to do with that aspect. They end up wanting to avoid the field entirely because people in that profession do not seem in control of anything including their own policies and become a slave to the political climate. Ultimately, this discourages the recruitment of people.

Nursing staff and their effect on image

The nursing staffs since the beginning of the nursing practice in the old times have lent a hand to the image of nursing in one way or another. Their caring natures or in some circumstances callousness have led to some stereotypes generated about the profession. These are some of them. They can be seen as angels of mercy or heroines that go out of their way to save a life (Darbyshire and Gordon, 2005). They can be perceived as handmaidens for physicians and attend to every order they issue. The negative stereotypes are torturer, which goes to the nurse in history that used less than conventional means, and the sex symbol, which is a common fantasy in most cases.

The last stereotype is the most common in today’s society and originates from the media itself. This encourages disrespect to practicing nurses in the field. The image is clearly affected by past history and experience, but people are slowly beginning to realize that these stereotypes do not have a bearing on the methodologies that nurse’s use today. They have rules and regulations that see them mostly act with the same behavior toward all patients. Once in a while, the hospitals may be understaffed with nurses or a physician, which is an increasing occurrence for the former.

This may lead them to seem a bit callous in nature because they are spread too thin between patients and can afford only some amount of care for each patient. This may give them a cold and uncaring appearance to the outside world because they seem not to care whether their patients live or die while in actual sense, it is no liability of their own and they are trying to do their job the best way that they can without excess casualties. This leaves the nurses in quite a complicated situation.

Improvement of nursing image

Some of the best ways to improve on the image of nursing rely on the nurses themselves, in that they should market themselves to the public and restore personal image. This should be a personal initiative by all nurses in the field such that they convert the perception of their patients and those who are around them everyday. Some of the ways they can do this is by keeping a professional image by keeping their name tag visible and introducing themselves as a professional nurse as an RN or an LPN (Mucci, 2009). They should also describe some of their independent actions in the saving of lives or preventing complications. This dispels the stereotype that people assume of nurses having no authority and knowledge base and follow the doctor’s orders only.


Some of the challenges include the fact of increasing interference from other fields in the medical profession and not just the nursing field. Physicians often argue that the insurance companies are taking over medical decision making. The moment the patients involve themselves in managed care programs, the companies get a stake in their health. This sets into motion a whole new set of ethical questions of who to treat by the nurses solely based on their payment plans (Joel, 2006).

Similarly, there patients are increasingly seeking litigation against hospitals, physicians or nurses. This could be groundless or not but in the end, it serves to undermine the image of the medical profession and the nursing field if it was implicated in any way. In other words, the nursing field has experienced a lot of ridicule and misunderstanding and under appreciation from the media and from the government. This has led to fall in recruitments leading to a lot of outsourcing from other countries where foreigners in search of employment and residency are brought in to take these jobs.

In conclusion, we say that the word itself has many connotations that have changed over the course of history and the words ‘nursing and ‘nurse have many meanings to choose from and there are key components which have been added into the field. Although females are thought to prosper well in the field of nursing, male counterparts, on the other hand, can do better. We can also we deduce that the public can conclude that nurses are unnecessary, uneducated and under the supervision of the doctors such that they control no power or purpose of their own, but they play a major role in the health sector. Until now can single out some of the major interferences which can be obstacles in the nursing field. Such concerns are the increasing interferences from other fields and the ever-increasing number of patients seeking litigation against hospitals. Nevertheless, there are regulations put in place as well institutions, which help, protect the nursing sector.

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