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Correcting Common Stereotypes About Nursing

It’s fair to say that there are common misconceptions and assumptions about most professions. Accountants are often thought of as boring, car salespeople as a bit shady, and professional sports players as playboys, flashing their money around on fancy holidays and lavish lifestyles. These stereotypes exist in nursing too. Unfortunately, thanks largely to the incredible popularity of television dramas set in hospitals, these stereotypes are perpetuated and common. As a nurse, you’ll probably hear about the following 5 stereotypes more than others. 

Stereotype – Nurses Are All Angels

The first side of the coin is the belief that nurses are all kind, caring, generous, angelic creatures created by heaven and sent directly down to care for patients. The stereotype of the nurse being an almost angelic being is far more harmful to the profession than you might think at first.

Because nurses, just like doctors, can save lives while on the job, they might be called angels, but they’re human just like the rest of us. Nurses work hard every day and do their best to be professionals and make the right decisions every time they might need to. The idea of nurses being angels creates a feminine outlook to the profession, turning men who might otherwise consider it as a career away from the idea of becoming a nurse.

Nurses are often portrayed on popular medical dramas on television as very emotional and more interested in love and romance in the workplace than their jobs, and this might lend to the stereotype. The reality is, they’re very hardworking and dedicated to their job just like every person that works in a hospital.

Stereotype – Nurses Are Intimidating

We’ve all seen the movies in which nurses are portrayed as bad-tempered, strict and angry. Just like in the case of the ‘nurses are angels’ stereotype, it’s just not true because nurses are consummate professionals.

This is probably one of the less believable stereotypes.

In reality, nurses need the following traits:

  • They need to be warm and approachable
  • Have excellent bedside manners
  • They need to be convincing
  • They need to be able to win the trust of their patients

Just because nurses have probably seen almost everything before, doesn’t mean they’re likely to rush through your treatment procedures in a hurried and disinterested or aggressive manner.

Stereotype – Nurses Are Deviants

Often people don’t realize the impact of falling into believing and adding to the stereotypes that surround us every day, and the stereotype of the ‘naughty nurse’ is perhaps the most damaging to the reputation and respect of the profession. Go into any Halloween or party store and you’re likely to see a good number of skimpy, low cut cleavage promoting nurse outfits, with short white skirts. Apart from being quite an embarrassment for nurses, these stereotypes offer a much more serious problem in that they contribute to a lack of respect for nurses. It turns nurses from respected, hard-working professionals into sex objects. This might mean that they are treated as such in the professional environment by their patients, which in turn means their advice might not be taken seriously and that could put their patients at risk.

Not just that, but by perpetuating the deviant stereotype of the naughty female nurse, you might be limiting the interest in the profession by men, who are put off because this stereotype creates an impression that nursing is a female role. Next time you’re looking for a Halloween costume, think about choosing something that doesn’t perpetuate sexist stereotypes like the sexy nurse costume – one of the worst offenders.

Stereotype – Nurses Are Subservient

Nurses are everything but sitting around waiting to be called upon to assist with menial tasks. Many believe that doctors bark orders to the nursing staff and they jump at every command issued. This couldn’t be further from the truth, because there is no hierarchy in healthcare amongst different jobs. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see a nurse offering doctors instructions.

The common opinion is that nurses are around for menial tasks like:

  • Cleaning up after the patient
  • Changing bedpans
  • Giving sponge baths
  • Serving meals

There’s far more complexity and importance to what a nurse does every day than this, of course.

Nurses are experts at critical thinking skills and making decisions with no time to think about them. It’s the nurse that makes the call to involve a doctor and what to communicate to the doctor. Of course, there is an element of physical work that all nurses do have to do, but assuming that’s all nurses do is a very incorrect stereotype.

Stereotype – Nurses Are Unskilled

You might be surprised to learn how common this stereotype is. It’s probably because the general public are intimately aware of how difficult and long the training to become a medical doctor is, and how high the entrance requirements are, but the same can’t be said about nurses. In reality, the kind of work that doctors and nurses do is incredibly different, and each has a very specific set of skills. These skills take years of formal training to obtain, just like doctors. 

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, have a look at the courses offered by Carson-Newman University. There are Carson-Newman nursing courses in a number of different specialties. 

As a nurse, you’ll be:

  • Constantly assessing patients
  • Making decisions
  • Acting based on these assessments

Nurses work closely alongside the other medical professionals in a team, making real contributions to the care of their patients. There is definitely no room for unskilled labor in the nursing field. 

It’s clear that many of the stereotypes that exist about nurses simply aren’t true and, of course, you shouldn’t believe everything you see on television or the media. Perpetuating these stereotypes in healthcare professionals can actually be dangerous for a few different reasons, but most of all because nurses might not get the respect they deserve for a very challenging and demanding job. Just like doctors aren’t the mavericks and yahoo cowboys they might be portrayed as on television hospital dramas, nurses aren’t angels, intimidating, or emotional unskilled labor. They are an integral and incredibly important part of the healthcare system and should be thought of as such.

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Correcting Common Stereotypes About Nursing

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