how do we improve the image of nurses

Nurses General Nursing


i am just curious on how do we improve the images of nurses, i know some people see us as non skilled general laborers, doctors handmaids, as well as many other misconceptions i have noticed over the years. I am just curious if anyone has any ideas on how to improve our status.


603 Posts

I read recently that nurses are one of the most trusted and respected professions (ranking above doctors and policemen -- I think only the firefighters beat us out).

People who haven't spent much time with us won't have a clue. What they see is their perception of what we do.

As individuals, we can change things one person at a time. For example, I volunteer teach (teachers LOVE it when someone else takes over the classroom for a day). I've taught ethics and I also have a presentation about research (that's my area and you really shouldn't have research without ethics). Of course, nursing creeps in since that's what I do. Hey, get 'em young and they don't forget.

As a group, though, we can work through our state nursing associations or other groups to effect changes.

:) It helps to remember that people are lazy and stereotypes are easy!


346 Posts

Specializes in burn, geriatric, rehab, wound care, ER.

I have thought about this question quite a lot. TV seems to capture the biggest audience.What we need is an ER type show or movie renamed RN that really shows what nurses do and not what some Hollywood type thinks we do. Any nurse-screenplay writers out there with some good connections?


829 Posts

*nurses out of porn

*"nurse" costumes out of sex toy shops

*zero tolerance policy for verbal/physical abuse by docs/patients/family members/visitors toward nurses, with written copies of the policy handed out to all pts. and visitors, as well as new staff.

And I know THIS won't be popular, but.....

Nurses need to act, dress, and speak professionally at work. I'm guilty of not doing it at all times, and it really does drag down the profession. That means things like clean & neat appearance, PROPER GRAMMAR (bad grammar dumbs you down to other people, no matter how intelligent you really are), and not being seen smoking by patients or visitors. There should be a separate smoking area for staff. I'm sorry, but smoking is gross, and everybody looks ugly doing it. Like it or not, it's an image problem.

And what about being addressed as "nurse so-and-so" instead of just your first name. Like, "Nurse Shay" instead of just "Shay?" One thing docs get to do is throw around that "I didn't go to xxx years of medical school to be called mr./mrs." crap, well, hey, I didn't go to 4 years of nursing school to be called just "Shay." :chuckle

What about more money? We live in a money-driven society, folks, and dollar is king. The more money you make, the more respect your profession gets. Simple economics and psychology, folks.

What about actually firing people who do things like habitually call out, show up 10 minutes late, don't pull their weight at work, don't finish their assigned duties, don't chart properly, ARE LAZY AND RUDE?? Hmmm?? Teaching has a low amt. of respect because the suckiest teachers STILL remain employed regardless of their performance and/or demeanor. Nursing has the SAME PROBLEM.

Just some thoughts to start the ol' ball rolling. ;)


46 Posts

Specializes in Surgery.

Excellent! I especially like dressing and acting professionally. I think it must be a real turn off to the patients when they see a nurse walk in wearing sloppy scrubs. Professional grammer is a must, and yes being adressed as nurse so and so, but also speak to the patient with respect, not going into a room and calling the patient "sweetie" adress the patient as Mrs. or Mr. that expresses professionalism and the patient will more than likely take you seriously. Where speaking down to a patient may make them tune you out.


455 Posts

I agree with Shay and the other posters. I would also like to add that to improve our image we as nurses need to be able to educate the public by articulating clearly what we do and the important role that nurses have in health care. Being able to describe the contributions of nursing in research, education, public health, schools, hospitals, clinics, administration, case management, politics, history, positive health care outcomes, and health care policy can improve our image.


772 Posts

All good ideas...except l don't want to be addressed as nurse 'bout we all boycot those stupid medical shows like ER, Strong Medicine...etc.....on the rare occasions that nursing is represented.....the image portrayed set nursing inage back about 50 yrs.......LR


754 Posts

Specializes in Everything but psych!.

I might be dating myself, but there was a nurse show that was on years ago. I believe it was called "Nurse"??? The "nurse" was Michael Learned. I think I only watched it once, as it was a little slow moving. There are some reality medical programs on PBS (ER, Delivery) that are more accurate in the portrayal of the nurse. However, they more feature the MDs on the program.

As far as our image, we can only start with ourselves. I try, as I believe everyone who is posting on this topic does too! Keep the light buring!


1,173 Posts

Last night I took care of a pt in the ED who lamented that nurses didn't wear the "starched white uniforms" like they used to. It was a really discouraging comment, in my eyes.

All I could think was, "Here I am, taking care of your cardiac problem, and the only thing you can think about nurses is how sad it is that they don't wear starched white uniforms anymore." Incidentally, it's not like I was dressed like a slob...yes, I wear scrubs, but they are always clean and stylish.

The pt husband quickly cut in and told her that he felt uniforms were not as important as having a nurse that knows what he/she is doing. He also told her that he thought it would be no picnic to have to wear a starched uniform, let alone wash it, starch it, and press it.

Oh well, at least the husband had a clue.


283 Posts

I agree with all the comments...Shay, you rock :)

Another important item is how we treat one another... countless times, I've heard this RN or that LPN make a disparaging comment about a peer... to another nurse, a doctor, a PATIENT :eek: What sort of message does this send? When we don't even appear to support one another, it's pretty difficult for others to give us the respect we feel we're entitled to.

Saw this in an ad for a travel nursing organization..."Nurses Supporting Nurses." Speaks volumes to me.



837 Posts

Have a ritual burning of those "Chicken Soup" books, such warm fuzzy saccharin has no place in a professional image. We exist in the real world, not Disney.


829 Posts

Originally posted by Fgr8Out

I agree with all the comments...Shay, you rock :)

The feeling's mutual, Fgr8Out ;) :D

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