Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

The general public has different perceptions and opinions about nursing as a profession. Some of these views are stereotypical and are tainted with misinformation. However, many people perceive nursing as a noble profession that involves a high level of selflessness. They believe that a nurse’s primary role is to provide care to persons who need it without discrimination. On the other hand, people assume that nursing is a field specifically designed for women, not knowing that male nurses contribute significantly to medical practice (Dickerson, 2015). Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

Several factors influence how the public views nursing. Firstly, the media portrays nurses’ image and their line of work that is far from reality. Nurses are usually depicted in a flirtatious manner with pictures showing slim figures and flashy dressing. This creates a flawed expectation of how a typical nurse should appear and behave. Past experiences with nursing also inform public perception. Experience is the best teacher, and it is only through this that people can form accurate opinions. The public can be educated about a nurse’s role and the scope of nursing in numerous ways. The media can be an instrumental tool to conduct mass education about who a nurse is, the educational credentials and level of training required to qualify an individual as a nurse, and the extent of practice (Yvonne ten Hoeve, 2014). Different perceptions and opinions about nursing


Dickerson, P. (2015). Changing Views: Influencing How the Public Sees Nursing. ALD Publishing, From https://www.nursingald.com/articles/13112-changing-views-influencing-how-the-public-sees-nursing.

Yvonne ten Hoeve, G. J. (2014). The nursing profession: public image, self‐concept, and professional identity. A discussion paper. Journal of Advanced Nursing, https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.12177.

Registered Nurses (RNs) comprise more than 50% of the global healthcare workforce and the largest sector of the healthcare workforce in the United States (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2019a; World Health Organization, 2018). Nurses also make up the largest component of hospital and long-term healthcare providers and remain in high demand across most healthcare settings, including public health, primary care, home care, out-patient centers, schools, academia, and healthcare research (AACN, 2019a; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

The profession of nursing contributes significant value to the healthcare industry in a manner that “distinguishes nurses from other healthcare professionals. First, nurses are educated to consider the social factors (or determinants) which influence health (e.g., income, gender, race, employment, education) making them essential advocates for connecting community resources and delivering healthcare to people where they work and live (Lathrop, 2013; Olshansky, 2017). Secondly, nurses provide healthcare from a holistic perspective, which centers on healing the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) in addition to treating and curing disease (Klebanoff, 2013; Mowdy, 2015). This inclusive approach to healthcare allows nurses to directly influence the delivery of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies to vulnerable populations at high risk for developing or worsening health problems (De Chesnay & Anderson, 2016). Finally, nurses have earned a high degree of respect from the public compared to other professions. According to a recent national poll, RNs hold their rank as the most trusted profession in the United States for the 20th year, with 85% of respondents rating honesty and ethical standards of nurses as high or very high (Reinhart, 2020). Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

The growing importance of nurses has led to an increased demand for their services in a variety of roles and contexts (Health Resources and Services Administration, 2014). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019) projects Registered Nursing will be the fastest growing of all professions in the United States, with a projected need of 371,500 new RNs by 2028. However, despite the growing need for nurses, the profession continues to battle an ever-growing shortage, largely due to the retirement of an aging workforce (more than half are over age 50), lack of nursing faculty, high job stress, and turnover (AACN, 2019b). Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) examined the role of nursing and offered recommendations for better utilization of nurses in a changing healthcare environment (Institute of Medicine, 2010). IOM recommendations include a redesign of the healthcare delivery system which allows nurses to practice at the full extent of their license and make use of their extensive education and training. Most RNs (55%) are prepared at the baccalaureate level or above making them educationally qualified to direct and deliver quality healthcare in a variety of settings, including in the community where professional collaboration and partnerships are essential (AACN, 2019a; Lundy & Janes, 2016). As such, the IOM has called for nurses to function as equal partners with physicians and other healthcare providers as a key strategy to advance quality healthcare (Institute of Medicine, 2010). When outlining their vision for an improved model of healthcare, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also relied heavily upon the capacity of nurses to assume leadership roles in quality improvement, increased access to care, and health promotion (RWJF, 2015). Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

However, the advancement of and increased reliance on nursing within the healthcare system have not translated to an updated perception of nursing in the minds of the public (Prybil, 2016; Summers & Summers, 2009). Despite their sheer number, unique value, respected reputation, patient-centered perspective, and academic/professional qualifications, nurses remain underutilized and unrecognized for their essential contributions to the healthcare system (Hoeve, Jansen & Roodbol, 2014; Prybil, Popa, Warshawsky, & Sundean, 2019). Numerous reports in the literature suggest that nurses have been overlooked as autonomous healthcare providers due to a persistently outdated and inaccurate image, often fed by media stereotypes, which project them as caring and trusted, yet lacking in influence and autonomy due to their subservient role to physicians (Cabaniss, 2011; Cohen & Bartholomew, 2009; Darbyshire, 2010; Hoeve, et al., 2014; Price & McGillis, 2014). As a result, the public, and other healthcare professionals, seem largely uninformed regarding the tenants of current nursing practice and licensure which are established and governed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN, 2020) (rather than medical boards) as an assurance the principles of competent nursing practice are met and maintained (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2019a. Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

The profession of nursing has an unmet need to differentiate themselves from other healthcare professions and communicate their unique value to the public as decision-makers and leaders in the healthcare industry (Finkelman & Kenner, 2013). Differentiation and the communication of value are core components for branding of organizations or professions (Kotler, Hayes, & Bloom, 2002). Branding works by shaping the image held in the minds of others by creating positive associations between the object (e.g., an individual or organization), and aspects which enhance value (Kapferer, 2012; Kotler, et al., 2002). Branding is an intentional process which requires assessment and refinement over time. A fundamental step in improving the value and recognition of the brand may be to address the chasm between nursing’s crucial role in healthcare and the stereotypical images still held by the public (Godsey, Perrott & Hayes, 2020). Different perceptions and opinions about nursing


This critically important topic deserves to be examined thoroughly and in an empirically sound manner. An important first step in this investigation is to assess the current state and desired future state of nursing’s brand, as identified by nurses themselves, since nurses are the ones who must decide and act to achieve the image they want for their profession. Research is needed which informs professional consensus regarding the image challenges faced by nurses, while informing and defining rebranding strategies for the profession’s future (Godsey, Hayes, Schertzer & Kallmeyer, 2018). Attempts to rebrand the profession must draw attention to the unique features that are attractive to stakeholders (nurses) so they can be translated strategically to the minds of consumers (the public) (Koch & Gyrd-Jones, 2019). Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

However, data is lacking in the empirical literature which could serve as a springboard for the creation of a consistent, accurate brand image for the nursing profession; one informed by nurses describing their profession’s current image compared to the brand image they most desire. This research seeks to fill that need by investigating the factors which prevent the nursing profession from achieving their desired image, as informed by the voice of nurses themselves. Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

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Branding is a marketing technique that allows organizations to create an image in the minds of consumers which conveys core values and differentiates their products and services from those of competitors (Brodie, `Whittome & Brush, 2009; De Chernatony & Segal-Horn, 2003; Kapferer, 2012). In the healthcare industry, consumers (patients), co-workers, and administrators are frequently unaware of many aspects of the nursing profession, including the prevalence of advanced degrees, the role nurses play in directing care, and the expansive job duties performed outside of what they personally observe in the healthcare setting (Buresh & Gordon, 2013). Because patients see nurses working alongside so many other healthcare professionals (such as imaging technicians, respiratory therapists and medical assistants), it can be difficult for them to discern the contribution each profession makes to their healthcare experience (Hoeve, et al., 2014). Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

The variety of pathways to a nursing degree also contribute to the confusion. Entry into educational programs for RNs include diploma programs, 2-year associate degrees, and 4-year baccalaureate degrees. Many nurses go much farther in their education to obtain graduate degrees (masters and doctoral) as well as specialty certifications which qualify them for advanced nursing practice (AACN, 2019a). The wide variety of entry points into the profession, range of academic degrees, and myriad of specialties may have fostered role ambiguity and promoted inconsistent or incorrect information concerning nursing’s integral role in healthcare (Jacob, McKenna & D’Amore, 2017; Lovan, 2009). To address these concerns, the profession of nursing needs an effective brand image which is clearly understood by consumers, respected by peers, valued in the marketplace, and delivered consistently and seamlessly by nurses in the workplace (Godsey, et al., 2020) Different perceptions and opinions about nursing

Also check: Evidence based practice