Image of Nurses in the Media Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:26:25
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Category: Nursing

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The image of nursing as portrayed by the media swings like a pendulum in between negative and positive attributes. However, most times, the portrayal is more on the negative side. Most nurses will readily agree to the fact that the way the media paints the profession is way beyond what they believe in or practice. Indeed, it falls short of fair and truthful image. In as much as all other media- newspaper, TV ,Radio, Internet services e.t.c are to an extent guilty of this same negative depiction of nurses, Hollywood paints the worst pictures and theirs greatly mold the public opinion and view of nursing as pictures dont need million words to be captivating! These stereotypes about nursing are largely planted and nurtured by Hollywood shows and spread throughout the world. As far back as 1932, Hollywood in its film A farewell to Arms depicted nursing as having no security and autonomy. The chief nurse in the film was shown as being weak, helpless and reluctant to fight for a nurse who was dismissed because a surgeon believed that she was a distraction to his ambulance driver.

In other words, physicians dictate what happens in nursing. With that coward perspective, many nurses entered into the profession answering yes doctor to all orders without any question. Nurses are then at the receiving end of Doctors and patients bullying. In more recent times, nursing is still depicted as being reserved for those who are not able to make it to college or medical schools. This is seen in the movies like House, Gracie, Grey anatomy, Akeelah & the bee and others. Nurses were either seen idling, rattling, bemoaning their fate or submissively stupid leaving the physicians with all the decisions and care of their patients. Also in Akeelah and the Bee (2006), nurses were portrayed as those needing attitudinal changes. Tanya in the film is a nurse but seen very angry all the time, not encouraging her daughter and smoking in a house that harbors kids. The message sent across is either that nurses dont practice what they preach or they are so dumb to know the medical implications of such behaviors. Moreover, it was also said that Tanya settled to be a nurse after dropping out of college.

Implicitly, one does not need a college education to be a nurse. Such deduction was seen in the film Blue Valentine 2008. In another film Million Dollar Baby, nurses were pointed out as amateurs who sole rely on physicians orders in maintaining health and that was aptly shown when Maggie in the film bit her tongue and the nurses only solution was sedation mocking what nursing really entails-prevention, promotion of health, advocacy, support and others. Same cluelessness of nurses was projected in Brooke Ellison Story (2004) and equally showing nurses as negligent, ill-mannered and not been empathetic.

Nurses are also seen in Hollywood as insignificant in healthcare. In the film, Sicko (2007) and Living in Emergency, no recognition was given to the nurses who fought with the physicians to save the lives they were applauding for. However, some Hollywood works e.g HawthoRNe, Rookies, Angels in America, Nurse Jackie were able to project nurses as brave advocates, empathetic, intelligent, skillful and not prostituting. To change the mindset of the public and erase the implanted stereotype about nursing, nurses first need to see the job as a profession and then struggle relentlessly to be intelligent and reliable professionals.

Then, nurses need to be stronger and louder in speaking back to the media in general. Messages of what nursing is should be sent across through televisions, radios, newspapers, billboards, internet services ,CDs, DVDs, Magazines, Schools and other available means. Letters need to be written to Tv program stating our ideas and counteracting any false notion against us. Nurses in notable positions should persistently speak up and defend the profession, redeem its image and make it more attractive. More public approval and acceptance can advance nursing, help in the looming shortage of nurses and as such help the care system in the long run.


Laura A. Stokowski (2010) : A letter to Hollywood. Nurses are not Handmaiden. Medscape. Sandy and Harry Summers (2010): Saving lives: Why the media portraya of nurses puts us al at risk. Retrieved from¦1/21/2013

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