Is there a ‘nursing stereotype’?

When you think of a nurse, what springs to mind? In the eyes of many people – the image hasn’t changed in decades. From the sexy nurse image to the doctor’s ever-present assistant, there’s a lot of different stereotypes that nurses have had to endure over the years. Sadly, many of these nursing stereotypes can distract from the vital role they play in healthcare. But are nurses still thought of as being typically ‘female’, and doctors seen as ‘male’? Does the nursing stereotype still exist, and what is being done to remedy it?

Then vs. Now

When you think of a typical nurse a century ago, the long capes, hats and immaculate updos of the First and Second World Wars spring to mind. Granted, nurses were an important part of the war effort, but it’s often an image that sticks in the minds of many, detracting from the role they play. Today, the image of nurses has evolved, and often the profession is seen as a negative one, with overworked and overtired nurses ‘complaining’ about pay while dealing with difficult conditions on the ward. Yes, it’s a tough job – but that’s not all that nursing is about.

There’s been a lot of attention focused on the nursing community this year. With news that nursing degree applications are falling, there has been a push to make sure that young people are aware of the benefits of a career in nursing. The NHS itself launched a campaign earlier this year to boost the number of nurses, including a TV spot targeting students and showing them the value of working for the NHS, particularly in nursing.

Overcoming nursing stereotypes in schools

The NHS is looking at ways it can tackle the typical gender stereotypes associated with the nursing profession. The classic cape and hat uniform costume often worn by children for dress-up can be misleading. This has led to schoolchildren in Scotland being given gender-neutral tunics to provide a more realistic depiction of modern nursing.

Traditional costumes also come with accessories such as a thermometer or a fob watch – which can be interpreted as demeaning of their roles in some circumstances. The reality is that nursing is a challenging profession with a lot of responsibility. There are fears that these inaccurate portrayals can dissuade young people from seeking a career in nursing when they get older.

Challenging the nursing stereotype by celebrating the profession

So does more need to be done to overcome the nursing stereotype? It is hoped that plans will be made to celebrate nursing while highlighting the challenges currently faced by those in the profession. By highlighting the benefits of becoming a nurse and breaking the dated stereotype, it is hoped that people will become excited about and interested in the profession to help fill the thousands of nursing vacancies that currently exist in the NHS.

Nursing offers many different career paths, and it’s not all about busy A&E wards and working all hours of the day and night. In out of hours practices, nurses are vital and play an important role in providing out of hours patient care. Providing a different working pattern and an alternative way of working, out of hours can be a great option for nurses looking for a change.

Need some more information about working out of hours? Find out more about our current nursing vacancies as well as what working in out of hours is really like on our jobs pages.