The media and especially Hollywood have been one of the most influential factors on how the public view nursing as a profession. As nurses we need to recognize both the negative and positive images the media have on nursing and try in our day to day interactions with the general public to change these perceptions. Negative stereotypes are everywhere and involve almost everyone no matter what profession or business you are in. A nurse has long been stereotyped as “helper” and still is in today’s world.
Many patients I work with now still feel that, when they are admitted to the hospital the nurse is to do everything for them including catering to their activities of daily living, although they can do it themselves. For example, I assist a patient out of bed to the wash basin to wash their face and brush their teeth and they sit waiting for the nurse to come in and perform these tasks as’ it is their duty’. Here I have to redirect and encourage them to do as much as the can and staff will assist to take of the rest. It is safe to say the media and especially television seem to get a’ kick’ out of portraying nurses negatively.
Almost all TV shows I can think of portray nurses in a negative way. Although there may be a positive as seen in ‘Mercy’ where the doctor told the interns, ‘these are the nurses, they should be your be your best friend, they most times know more than you do’ holds so much truth in that statement and should be seen as a positive. The same show over shadows this positive with numerous negative behaviors of the same nurses. I am not a big fan of television but happened to see one episode of’ Nurse Jackie’ that made me very upset. I can just imagine the negative image of the uneducated public watching such a television show.
At Halloween the nurse is portrayed as a sex symbol in tight, short and skimpy costumes, when in fact nurses are neatly attired and depict professionalism on and off the job. It is our duty as nurses to practice professionalism at all times so that the public can differentiate the Hollywood portrayed TV nurse as opposed to the professional nurse they will meet in the healthcare system. We can talk to the public at health fairs, church, schools etc. about the nurse’s roles and scope in nursing practice so they will have informed impressions of nurses.
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