The Image of Nursing

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The Image of Nursing Dawn Davis Texas A&M University-Texarkana The Image of Nursing Following is a discussion of the image of nursing and professional identity. Factors contributing to nursing image and the effects of nursing image are included. The Image of Nursing What is the professional identity, or the image of nursing? How does the public view this hardworking profession? Do they understand what a nurse does? Do they understand the thought processes involved in caring for patients. Do they understand the knowledge involved in critical thinking?
Do they have any idea that we formulate plans of care and that we put together nursing diagnosis with treatment plans, nursing interventions, expected outcomes? Do they understand that we are their advocates? Do they understand that all care is channeled through nursing and that we are their main defense for patient safety? Are we professionals in the eyes of the public, and in our own eyes? For my own research on this paper, I randomly quizzed ten people that I met in public, not people that knew me personally. I asked them what they thought of nurses, and asked them to give me some adjectives to describe nurses in general.
Some of the positive responses that I received were; kind, caring, cool, they help the doctors, they take care of patients, outstanding, knew what they were doing, they saved my life, and excellent. I also received some negatives. One person told me that they knew one nurse that was totally uncaring, unprofessional, and mean. Another individual told me that many years ago her son, who passed away, was HIV positive and she felt that the nurses neglected him because of his diagnosis. I was appalled at the negative answers, and somewhat disappointed with the positives.

While the positives that I received were all fantastic traits, not one person mentioned traits such as educated or professional. My very limited random research was completely in line with the findings in our text book, Professional Issues in Nursing. So, it would seem that, in general, the public doesn’t completely understand the wide scope of nursing. They understand some of the basic functions of nursing. The few random individuals that I spoke with based their perceptions mainly on personal past experiences with nurses. Nursing Image What is Nursing Image?
This is a concept that needs more clarification and study to increase nurse’s awareness of factors that affect public perception. “Understanding the moral values in today’s nursing practice will help nurses to work together with a common comprehension of their aims. This should also allow greater appreciation of the practice of nursing highlighting the equal importance of both fundamental basic nursing care and the advanced clinical roles” (Horton, Tschudin, & Forget, 2007) Nursing image also affects the decision to enter nursing as a profession, to remain in nursing, and to encourage others to become a nurse.
A broad definition is “Nursing Image is a multidimensional, all-inclusive, paradoxical, dynamic, and complex concept. ” (Rezaei-Adaryani, Salsali, & Mohammadi, 2012) To further define: * All-inclusive and paradoxical refers to both stereotypical and professional image. * Dynamic includes the changing view of nursing as a profession. * Complex, because many factors influence the formation of the image. Factors affecting Nursing Image Many factors combine to influence the image of nursing as a profession.
Some of The factors include media, poor communication and visibility, clothing style, the nurses’ behaviors, gender issues, and professional organizations. (Rezaei-Adaryani, Salsali, & Mohammadi, 2012) * Media- Historically media has not painted a very professional image of nursing, although, recently this has improved to portray a more capable, independent, strong, intelligent individual. * Poor communication and invisibility- Nursing is an invisible profession and this is a major threat to nursing’s social status and perceived value.
It is believed that since nursing is mostly female, that there is poor communication with media and reporters. Nurses also somewhat reluctant to share knowledge, experience, expertise, competence, and intelligence to change portrayal in the media. (Rezaei-Adaryani, Salsali, & Mohammadi, 2012) * Clothing style- Appearance is the first thing a person notices. A professional uniform that also defines them from other disciplines increases professionalism. * Nurses’ behaviors- Some believe that the nurse is not identified as professional individual, we refer to the physician as Dr. ___, and the nurse is known by the first name. Different levels of nursing education do the same job; this may devalue nursing as an intellectual profession. Nurses with negative image of nursing may also project that to others. “Self-image shapes behavior and performance in the workplace and affects how we think and act. ” (Fletcher, 2007) * Gender issues- Generally nursing is viewed as a female dominated profession. Men are normally viewed as having positions of power. Women are thought of as caring, more emotional and less aggressive than men.
This gender stereotype tends to limit the number of males recruited and retained in nursing. (Rezaei-Adaryani, Salsali, & Mohammadi, 2012) * Professional organizations-Globally, there are 14 million nurses. Nurses are the largest group of health professionals in the world. Unfortunately, there is limited unity. Involvement in professional organizations, and standing together on issues is important in changing nursing image and increasing professional identity. (Rezaei-Adaryani, Salsali, & Mohammadi, 2012) Effects of Nursing Image on Nursing
One very important effect of public misunderstanding of the profession of nursing and the knowledge and skill required is a limited number of potential candidates for the future of nursing. Thirty years ago a significant number of young people would have chosen to be a nurse when they grow up, less than 5% of students responded so in a 2004 study. (Huston, Professional Issues in Nursing, 2010) Another important factor is that inaccurate nursing stereotypes may have a negative effect on the self-esteem f nursing as a whole. Both of these factors combined lead to increase in nursing shortage, short-staffing, heavy workload, job dissatisfaction, and burn-out. This can lead to current nurses leaving the profession. In general, nurses’ image of nursing tends to be better than that of the public. This is related to the fact that nurses are educated about the profession. I also asked several Registered Nurses to give adjectives to describe nursing.
I received responses such as; educated, professional, critical thinkers, overworked, advocates, compassionate, unappreciated, caring, researchers, knowledgeable, multitasker, empathetic, thorough, supportive, educators, and leaders. Many changes need to be made to change the image of nursing in public view. Nurses must be heard in the media. Nurses must speak positively about their profession. The public needs to be educated about the profession of nursing. Nurses should act, perform, and dress like professionals. Nurses should actively encourage bright individuals to join the profession.
Current nurses should positively socialize nursing students, and new nurses, acting as optimistic and confident mentors, sharing their expertise. Nurses should join and be active in professional organizations, to increase unity, and be active in the political processes. Imagine the strength and respect nursing would command if half of the nurses joined. In summary, the image of nursing needs to be changed for the better. Change starts with the profession itself. Every nurse should take accountability to make these positive changes through action, involvement, education, and behavior.
Bibliography Fletcher, K. (2007). Image: changing how women nurses think about themselves. The Author, 207-215. Horton, K. , Tschudin, V. , & Forget, A. (2007). The Value of Nursing: A Literature Review. Sage Publication. Huston, C. J. (2010). Professional Issues in Nursing (second ed. ). (H. Surrena, Ed. ) Philadelphia, PA, USA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Rezaei-Adaryani, M. , Salsali, M. , & Mohammadi, E. (2012, December). Nursing Image: An Evolutionary Concept Analysis. Contemporary Nurse, 81-89.

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