Throughout time the world’s image on Nursing has evolved rapidly. Nurses work in an extremely stressful environment and must carry out their duties in a professional manner to ensure proper procedures are followed throughout their routines. They also have a considerable amount of responsibility that comes with their career. For those reasons nurses must present themselves in a professional and structured manner at all times. The Image of Nursing describes how people in and out of the profession see nurses. Nurses must protect and continuously improve their image by fully applying themselves to their profession every day.
Generally only people who have had extended contact with nurses, in the healthcare setting or as family and friends, really understand what nursing entails. We need to do much more to get the correct image of the nurse out there – that of an educated and highly skilled independent professional practitioner, male or female, who is self-assured and confident.
- Have pride in your profession
When asked in a social setting what your job is don’t answer with “Oh, um, I’m just a nurse” as though you are ashamed. Hold your head high and reply with confidence something like: “I’m a nurse working at St. John’s hospital in the pediatric unit”. If relevant, add that you are a specialist, e.g. in critical care. This may be a good opening for further conversation.
Never criticize patients, co-workers, your employer or the profession in front of patients or in social settings. The place to vent about your horrible day is either at home with your family or alone with your nursing colleagues or best friend.
- Maintain a professional image
Look and act like a professional person 24/7 – wherever you are you serve as a role model of who and what a nurse is.
Professional appearance starts with good grooming and workwear appropriate for a professional person. Keep to the dress code of the institution where you are working. Cartoon characters on uniforms might have a place – but only on a pediatric ward.
Introduce yourself to patients and explain to them who you are, why you are there and what are going to do. Explaining procedures and medications, and the reasons for them, not only reassures the patient but also shows that you are knowledgeable and confident in what you are doing.
- Get the nursing story in the media
A study conducted by Woodhall on nurses in the media during 1997 was published under the title “Health Care’s invisible partner”. It was found that nurses were referred to in fewer than 4% of over 2000 health articles in newspapers from across the United States. The researcher came to the conclusion that this largest group of health care providers was virtually invisible to the public.
The main career motivator for most nurses is service, rather than money or power and prestige. This is why nurses shy away from and are unaware of the need for media to promote the profession. For the public to understand the major and indispensable role of nurses in healthcare, they need to be shown who she is and what she does.
- Become a community leader
Given their education, background and exposure to community issues nurses can serve effectively on various platforms and become leaders in their communities. Participation by nurses at this level shows them as concerned and knowledgeable citizens and enhances the public image of nursing. Participating in community activities also contribute to your own professional development.
- Speak up for you and your patient’s rights
How many times have we been advocating for safe nurse-to-patient ratios? Numerous studies (here, here, and here) have found out that understaffing causes increased risk not only for patients but also for nurses. These studies support the minimum staffing levels, but hospital administrators are reluctant to adopt them, of course, to save money. Press would usually attribute the overburdened state of hospitals to a national nursing shortage, but most everywhere there has been a surplus of educated nurses for years.
- Make a difference
Contribute to the future of your profession – what you as a nurse do or say does make a difference. Be proud to be a nurse, always look and act professionally, help to inform the public about nurses and nursing an example within your community.
Promoting and sustaining positive nursing image is very crucial in nursing profession to keep nurses to be motivated to work and retain in the profession to be more professional and be a role model and mentor nurses everywhere you go to promote nursing image either in personal life or professional workplace. It is also very inspiring to correct public media’s misconception of nursing image by writing to them to keep inform and upgrade them regarding positive image in nursing to recruit more staff to join nursing and retain in nursing and to enhance job satisfaction, job performance. By actively involved in professional organization to talk to policy maker, writer to media or newspaper to keep them well-informed of nurses’ achievement and to get recognition from public.