By PATRICIA V. RIVERA / The Dallas Morning News
"Nursing. It's Real. It's Life."
That's the tag line for a campaign launched this month to counter stereotypes that dissuade students from considering a career in nursing.
Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, a coalition of 32 nursing and health care organizations, turned to an advertising agency and a public relations firm to tailor perceptions of a profession facing a shortage.
"People tend to have one visual image of nurses. The campaign will inform young people and people of all ages about the many opportunities in nursing," said Margaret Martin, director of patient care resources at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.
JWT Specialized Communications, part of the J. Walter Thompson ad agency, is managing the campaign as a service project. The firm developed the theme by interviewing 1,800 American schoolchildren in 10 cities, including Dallas. The results: Kids viewed nursing as a scary, stressful, dead-end career with bad hours and a tacky uniform.
"The perceptions weren't real. We wanted to show them that it wasn't just grunt work and changing bedpans," said Jay Kleinman, director of JWT's consulting group in Dallas.
A series of seven print advertisements and a television public service announcement attempt to improve the image of nursing while encouraging students to enter the profession. The ads feature nurses as lobbyists, caregivers, and researchers.
Two nurses featured in the national campaign have strong ties to Texas. Sharon Brigner, a senior health policy analyst for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in Washington, D.C., studied at Texas Woman's University.
Aurora Hernandez, a nurse who is enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in nursing at Georgetown University, grew up in Uvalde, Texas. She decided to be a nurse while growing up as a child of migrant workers. During the growing season, she and her family often moved around. She has experienced the struggles of workers in receiving health care.
Sonja Popp-Stahly, a public relations specialist with Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, said the coalition is still looking for sponsors to purchase space for print ads. The 30-second public service announcement has already been distributed to 200 stations throughout the nation, including KDAF-TV (Channel 33) in Dallas.