Why Are Nurses Given Such A Bad Rap Today? - page 2

In reading the threads regarding the so called nursing shortage our country is under :rolleyes:, I started wondering why is it that we as nurses are given such a bad rap today. Care to share your... Read More

  1. by   live4today
    Hi Aellyssa! Welcome to Allnurses!

    I commend you for sharing your long range views of what's been going in on nursing. Doesn't seem to matter what city, state, country, or continent we are on.......nursing still has a long way to go. Thanks for your very thought provoking take on this topic!

    Tweety...thanks for finally getting where I'm "trying" to come from. I don't always word things the way I'm thinking them, but someone always comes along and says exactly what I am trying to say. That's what makes this forum so great! We're not alone here!
  2. by   Indy
    The fact is, many americans are very, very spoiled. Patients' families can't all know the complexities of a nurse's education or what else the nurse may be dealing with while they are looking for five star hotel style customer service.

    I saw more of that in pediatrics, interestingly enough, than in med-surg. But I'm a student, and that's not a whole lot of experiences to consider so I can't draw conclusions.

    While a nurse is working, he or she may not have the time to educate people about how complex the job is. It may not be advisable to do so anyway, as you risk saying "patient in room so and so is having an emergency so your family member can find the water dispenser over there", and that could violate patient in room so and so's privacy. And I know it's not possible to be nice and smile all the time. My face would break.

    When NOT on the job, in social situations, is when nurses (and sometimes students) can do a little talking and hopefully shed some light on how ridiculous some of our society's attitudes are and how they can affect healthcare. Example: an online group not related to nursing (geek stuff ) contains a member who says that "so and so had her appendix out and nearly died after surgery. Her nurse found her bleeding in the night," etc. This was followed by another member's comment: "I hope she gets rich off that."

    Well I had about fifteen minutes to kill, so I explained various reasons for a patient to bleed after surgery, not all of which would be due to "botched" surgery. I also pointed out that it's well worth the nurse's salary to be there, actively following up on the patient's status, in the middle of the night, to help save the patient's life. The group was fairly responsive, both positively and negatively. I also pointed out that personally, nurses do not appreciate the "let's catch the hospital doing something bad so we can sue" attitude and it can, in some cases, lead to the nurse avoiding the patient, or spending so much time in CYA mode that care can be neglected for other patients.

    Another example would be just everyday conversations with people. In the drugstore an elderly man couldn't believe nursing school took two years. He said he thought they just "pushed pills and cleaned people". I explained what a nurse has to know just to give you a tylenol and he was astounded, but expressed pleasure that so much thought goes into what he thought was a very simple procedure.

    One by one, we can change what people think. But boy does it take time.
    -Indy
  3. by   RN4NICU
    I love how that crap article put nursing in with day care and secretarial work, rather than with other "female" professions that also require a degree (such as teaching). Some journalists are not worth the ink and trees it wastes to put their thoughts into print.
  4. by   mattsmom81
    Quote from Marie_LPN
    I thought the "pink collar ghetto" remark was originally made at one of the student doctor sites?
    That I would believe too...in fact I'm sure they refer to us as much worse...my reference is from the Grey's Anatomy thread:

    Originally Posted by sunnyjohn


    "In college I took an upper level Sociology class, "Women and Society". I was told that nursing was a "pink -collar ghetto" and that was the attitude that would have to be changed before folks say nursing as a profession.

    This was in the late '90's not so long ago. Future doctors and the general public need to be educated about nursing."
  5. by   live4today
    Quote from mattsmom81
    .............................................Futur e doctors
    and the general public need to be educated about nursing."
    I agree, but it is the "set in their ways" older docs that train the young docs of today and the future, and my guess is many of those old docs aren't training the young docs to respect nurses as professionals.
  6. by   jyoung1950
    Quote from cheerfuldoer
    i was curious about the term "pink collar ghetto" which i'd never heard before mattsmom mentioned it in her post comments, so i researched the term and found many articles about it....especially the one posted here. note: the one about nursing i highlighted in "red":



    geek women in bondage
    the new pink collar ghetto



    [color=#0000c4]annalee newitz, special to sf gate

    thursday, august 5, 1999


    san francisco, california, usa -- "how many times must you be told?
    there's nowhere that we won't go!"
    -- lyrics written by the all-female san francisco band l7


    a woman who spoke to me anonymously recounted what could be the story of everywoman in the tech industry. when she was hired at silicon graphics, a woman in the human resources department was unusually frank with her about her job prospects. "basically, she laid out two career paths for me, one that went to lead engineer and one that went to management. she told me openly that i might as well kiss the engineering path goodbye because it was so full of boys."

    everyone in the industry knows that boardrooms and tech conferences are still packed with testosterone. yet it would be untrue to say that the bay area high-tech scene is entirely male-dominated. crucial professions -- project management, ui design, web production, pr, marketing, human resources -- boast more than their fair share of women in positions of power.

    jobs in these areas can be just as lucrative as typically "male" jobs (such as anything on the cto path), but when women are overrepresented in certain areas and underrepresented in others, something is obviously going on. it's called ghettoization: a situation where a group exists within restricted boundaries that its members cannot easily surmount. in the high tech industry, we're witnessing the entrenchment of a new pink collar ghetto.

    certain professions like nursing, day care and secretarial work have long been known as pink collar ghettos. the excuse in the past for putting women in these boring or low-paid positions is that they are allegedly "better" at caregiving and organizing groups. such reasoning would be rejected these days as patently sexist. but while no one bats an eye at a man who takes a job in a "female" field like human resources, many are still shocked and uncomfortable when women become ceos or software jocks.

    a woman discussing carly fiorina's recent appointment to ceo of hewlett-packard on the [color=#0000c4]san francisco women on the web's email list, wrote, "what really annoys me is that it makes the front page when a major corporation hires a woman." she added sardonically, "my god a woman!?!? what will they think of next?"

    while female execs may get lionized by the press, it's not always easy for women to seek out fields where they may be one of a tiny handful of women in the office. "you have to be a certain kind of person to break out, to go someplace where there aren't a whole lot of people like you," says kathleen o'brian, point woman for sfwow and a lead developer and trainer for sbc internet services.

    o'brian confirms that the basic conundrum of female employment in high tech is some areas are gender balanced while others are female free. "there are a lot of women in the training field because women have traditionally been teachers," she said, "but when you get into more technical training you're still competing mostly with men."

    denise brosseau, president of the [color=#0000c4]forum for women entrepreneurs, agrees. "we see a lot of women in e-commerce, marketing, content production, human resources," she said, "women are supposed to be good at partnership and collaboration, which is what those jobs are about."

    brosseau's comments echo the idea that all women share certain characteristics that make them better suited for "intuitive" or "communicative" jobs, while men are better at those that are "logical" and "scientific."

    what's galling for women who seek equal representation is that it's hard to deny that a lot more women seem to want to do things like design rather than engineering. widespread rumor even has it that apple guru steve jobs hired susan kare to do icon design for the mac computer because he believed only a woman could create a truly intuitive interface.

    can it really be possible that geek women are from gui and geek men are from engineering?

    absolutely not, says kare, whose "female intuition" supposedly made the mac friendly. "user interface design involves collaboration between programmers focused on user interface and designers of user interface graphics, and i have worked with highly skilled men and women in both capacities," asserted kare, now a successful ui design consultant in san francisco.

    and the rumors about jobs needing a woman to make his gui go? "i came to work at apple by hearing about the job and interviewing with the macintosh software manager at that time," she stated firmly. "there is no truth to that rumor."

    if it's untrue that women are naturally better at some jobs, then how do we account for all the women who choose of their own free will to steer clear of engineering and populate creative or pr departments instead? it's not as if this unequal distribution of labor is making women happy.

    san francisco tech reporter rose aguilar commented, "personally, i'm sick of asking female pr execs to interview men for the majority of my stories, listening to all male tech panels, and seeing the same men in brochures for tech events." women long to see themselves represented in high tech jobs, and yet an ironically tiny number of them actually pursue professions in male-dominated fields.

    so why do women find themselves attracted to stereotypically "feminine" professions? o'brian offers the simple observation that women choose jobs that have more female role models. it's a catch-22: women want tech jobs in gender-balanced departments, but the only way to create a gender balance is to work for years in a male-dominated space.

    "we as a society don't like to look at the fact that women aren't encouraged [in the tech industry], that there isn't equality," o'brian said. "it's still tough for women to get that break, to make those choices."

    according to willa seldon, general partner of [color=#0000c4]viridian capital, the answer for women in high tech is learning how to gain power by networking. "sometimes it's hard for women to stand up and talk out loud at meetings the way men do. but it's crucial," seldon remarked.

    viridian, which seldon runs with founding partner christine cordaro, is a venture capital firm that invests in companies owned by women or whose products are aimed primarily at women -- it's one of dozens of companies and organizations in the bay area that are laying the foundation for a future old girls' network.

    perhaps we should stop asking what kinds of jobs women are good at, for we can be good at anything. instead we should wonder about the limited choices for women in the tech industry.

    the more women can see themselves and each other making the tough choices, breaking into historically male fields, the more likely it is that the next generation of women will choose the jobs they desire, instead of the jobs they think they can get.


    annalee newitz is a freelance writer in san francisco. it won't cost you anything to write and give her your opinions at [color=#0000c4]tabloid@jps.net.
    </font>
    "the excuse in the past for putting women in these boring or low-paid positions is that they are allegedly "better" at caregiving . . . . ."

    i have yet to see a bored nurse!

    it doesn't help in eliminating the "bad rap" when other women look down their noses at nurses, like this reporter is. funny how women can get irate when they think they are being stereotyped yet often commit the same transgression towards other women.

  7. by   nursemike
    Quote from jyoung1950
    "the excuse in the past for putting women in these boring or low-paid positions is that they are allegedly "better" at caregiving . . . . ."

    i have yet to see a bored nurse!

    it doesn't help in eliminating the "bad rap" when other women look down their noses at nurses, like this reporter is. funny how women can get irate when they think they are being stereotyped yet often commit the same transgression towards other women.
    yeah, i was thinking that, too.
  8. by   MryRose
    I had Sociology last semester and Nursing was still listed as a Pink Collar Ghetto "job". With the room full of prospective nurses, we did have quite the discussion about the perception. There wasn't a doubt in that room that Nursing is a very skilled profession. We all were a bit ticked that it was portrayed in that manner. Especially the guys!

    In our area, we have several hospitals that do a marvelous job of marketing the profession of Nursing as a high tech skilled profession to both men and women.
    Here when someone learns that you are going into the field, it's a very positive response.

    Too bad our clueless CA governator can't see what an invaluable resource that Nurses really are. Too bad he can't be forced to spend a week with a real nurse in a real hospital. Make that LTC! He wouldn't make it past day one!

    Nurses Rock!
  9. by   humglum
    I have a very unpopular viewpoint.

    I think nurses have done this to themselves. With nurse leaders like Jean Watson, who developed an entire theory of 'caring', and the new Johnson & Johnson promo ads that urge people to 'dare to care'... nursing is downgraded to a league of nurturers and largely unskilled carers, caring both for and about their patients. There is a whole subculture of nauseatingly sweet images of nurses as 'angels of mercy' not to mention all the cutesy little boyd's bear nurses and other figurines that make me want to vomit on a daily basis. This is what the public gets of nurses.

    As much as I've grown to loathe ER, at the beginning I thought it was a decent show that portrayed nurses in a favorable and realistic light. Remember Carol Hathaway? She was a charge nurse, extremely knowledgeable, smart, experienced. She had the opportunity to go to medical school and didn't, because she was a nurse, because she liked being a nurse. That was very valuable to me at the time. I remember watching one episode where Carol was trapped inside a store that had been robbed, or something similar, and she confessed that she'd always been disappointed with her level of skills, and always wanted to be more than she was, and the criminal replied in disbelief, "With all you can do? Why?". That also spoke to me. Unfortunately, now Abby has become a doctor and the nurses seem to exist only to have affairs with the new residents.

    Sometimes, when I work swingshift, I listen to Loveline on my way home. A couple of weeks ago a female in her 20s called in and was talking about how dissatisfied she is with her life, how she doesn't have any skills, she doesn't do well in school. Adam suggested she go to junior college and become a nurse, the insinuation being that nurses required neither intellect nor education.

    Which brings me to my last point, that I think nurses would be better respected as a whole if we had a higher level of education, collectively. Granted, there are scores of nurses with MSNs and PhDs, but I'd like to see more RNs practicing at the BSN level.

    I think its our duty, as nurses, to educate the public where we can. Usually when someone asks me what I do for a living, I'll tell them I'm a nurse, and I'll get the same, "Oh, I could never do that." As if nursing is all blood and guts and bodily fluids. I'll usually take a minute to explain my specialty and what I *actually* do, and they're a bit more interested and less repulsed.

    Wow! Holy long post, Batman!
  10. by   sunnyjohn
    Yep, I wrote this:
    Quote from sunnyjohn
    Honestly I think most of them have no idea what nurses really do. They only see things for the persepctive of a "pre-med volunteer". It's the same attitude nurses get from folks in the community.

    I'll be honest, I never wanted to be a nurse. Only until I worked in the hospital close to some really outstanding nurses did I even consider it as a valid career option.

    In college I took an upper level Sociology class, "Women and Society". I was told that nursing was a "pink -collar ghetto" and that was the attitude that would have to be changed before folks saw nursing as a profession.

    This was in the late '90's not so long ago. Future doctors and the general public need to be educated about nursing.
    (I truncated the post for space)

    I also wrote this:
    Quote from sunnyjohn
    Yep.... When I think back to alot of the things I learned about nursing in college I often shakemy head in dismay. Ironically I had no idea how damaging these ideas were. Many of the professors who taught these classes were women.

    The stereotypes we present to our children are the true injustice. Those old attitudes have to be changed.

    I don't consider myself a feminist in the true sense of the word, but why can't a modern women or man be taught to associate themselves with nursing?
    You can find the thread here:
    https://allnurses.com/forums/showthr...35#post1124735

    Indy has a valid point:
    Quote from Indy
    Another example would be just everyday conversations with people. In the drugstore an elderly man couldn't believe nursing school took two years. He said he thought they just "pushed pills and cleaned people". I explained what a nurse has to know just to give you a tylenol and he was astounded, but expressed pleasure that so much thought goes into what he thought was a very simple procedure.

    One by one, we can change what people think. But boy does it take time.
    -Indy
    It is time consuming and bothersome, but old sterotypes are best changed through education. Who better to do that education than those involved?
    It cannot be left to schools or colleges. I did not understand until I spent time with nurses. It was the true professionalism, commitment and dedication to education of nurses that changed my mind!

    Agape
    Last edit by sunnyjohn on Apr 8, '05 : Reason: 'casue i kern't spel werth a dern
  11. by   sunnyjohn
    Quote from CharmCityRN
    As much as I've grown to loathe ER, at the beginning I thought it was a decent show that portrayed nurses in a favorable and realistic light. Remember Carol Hathaway? She was a charge nurse, extremely knowledgeable, smart, experienced. She had the opportunity to go to medical school and didn't, because she was a nurse, because she liked being a nurse. That was very valuable to me at the time. I remember watching one episode where Carol was trapped inside a store that had been robbed, or something similar, and she confessed that she'd always been disappointed with her level of skills, and always wanted to be more than she was, and the criminal replied in disbelief, "With all you can do? Why?". That also spoke to me. Unfortunately, now Abby has become a doctor and the nurses seem to exist only to have affairs with the new residents.
    That episode of "ER" is airing on TNT right now (9am, CST)


    agape
  12. by   humglum
    Wow. How strange. I love old ER. After Carol left and Mark died, it all went straight to hell.

    ETA: But that's ok. Now I have House. :chuckle
  13. by   rach_nc_03
    Quote from CharmCityRN
    I have a very unpopular viewpoint.

    I think nurses have done this to themselves. With nurse leaders like Jean Watson, who developed an entire theory of 'caring', and the new Johnson & Johnson promo ads that urge people to 'dare to care'... nursing is downgraded to a league of nurturers and largely unskilled carers, caring both for and about their patients. There is a whole subculture of nauseatingly sweet images of nurses as 'angels of mercy' not to mention all the cutesy little boyd's bear nurses and other figurines that make me want to vomit on a daily basis. This is what the public gets of nurses.

    As much as I've grown to loathe ER, at the beginning I thought it was a decent show that portrayed nurses in a favorable and realistic light. Remember Carol Hathaway? She was a charge nurse, extremely knowledgeable, smart, experienced. She had the opportunity to go to medical school and didn't, because she was a nurse, because she liked being a nurse. That was very valuable to me at the time. I remember watching one episode where Carol was trapped inside a store that had been robbed, or something similar, and she confessed that she'd always been disappointed with her level of skills, and always wanted to be more than she was, and the criminal replied in disbelief, "With all you can do? Why?". That also spoke to me. Unfortunately, now Abby has become a doctor and the nurses seem to exist only to have affairs with the new residents.

    Sometimes, when I work swingshift, I listen to Loveline on my way home. A couple of weeks ago a female in her 20s called in and was talking about how dissatisfied she is with her life, how she doesn't have any skills, she doesn't do well in school. Adam suggested she go to junior college and become a nurse, the insinuation being that nurses required neither intellect nor education.

    Which brings me to my last point, that I think nurses would be better respected as a whole if we had a higher level of education, collectively. Granted, there are scores of nurses with MSNs and PhDs, but I'd like to see more RNs practicing at the BSN level.

    I think its our duty, as nurses, to educate the public where we can. Usually when someone asks me what I do for a living, I'll tell them I'm a nurse, and I'll get the same, "Oh, I could never do that." As if nursing is all blood and guts and bodily fluids. I'll usually take a minute to explain my specialty and what I *actually* do, and they're a bit more interested and less repulsed.

    Wow! Holy long post, Batman!
    CharmcityRN,

    Might be an unpopular opinion, but I strongly agree!! I gave a group presentation tuesday in my "Professionalism and Ethics in Nursing" class. We did our presentation on advanced practice nursing. My section of the presentation dealt with the societal need for (and perception of) advanced practice nurses, and nurses in general. One of my arguments was that the jean watson/johnson & johnson view of nurses as sweet, selfless hand-holders, doing not much more than hugging their patients and being nice, is the primary reason that nurses aren't seen as professionals. I said that nurses will have to fight like hell to squash that image before the public will believe that we are accomplished medical professionals.

    When my ex-husband told his high-school aged sister that I'd decided to go to nursing school, she said, 'wow, I just can't see rachel running around, taking orders from a doctor and getting him coffee!' :angryfire Where in the WORLD did a 16-year-old get THAT idea??

    Of course, my ex and I once got in a fight in the grocery store over nursing...I was explaining the critical thinking papers we had to write in class, and how I thought they were a waste of time for most of us, he said, 'well you know, most of the people that become nurses aren't that smart- it's not rocket science. It's kinda in the same intellectual category as secretaries and preschool teachers.' :angryfire:angryfire

    Note the fact that he's my EX-husband.

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