As the nursing field has grown as a profession, we've seen a lot of changes regarding the image of the nurse in the public eye. Not just a change from starched white dresses and caps to colorful print scrubs, but rather a whole new breed of nurse. And with those changes, it's time to dispel three of the most common nursing stereotypes.
The Sexy Nurse
The "sexy nurse" stereotype is a stubborn one that just won't disappear. While it's less prevalent now than it used to be, even as recent as 2013, a feature film advertised with a poster of a sexy nurse riding a syringe like a rocket. And let's not forget the never ending supply of sexy nurse costumes rolled out every Halloween. Work a 12-hour shift on your feet dressing wounds, changing bedpans and inserting catheters and see how sexy you feel at the end of the day. Enough with this stereotype, already.
Nursing is for Women Only
Nursing is not just for women anymore. In fact, men have long been a part of the profession, though in smaller numbers than women as they slowly chip away at one of the biggest nursing stereotypes. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that from 1980 to 2008, the number of men in the field of nursing increased from roughly 45,000 to 190,000. That's still only about 6 percent of the nursing workforce, but more and more men are moving into nursing for generous wage and employment opportunities. As of 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a national average wage of about $31 per hour for registered nurses and a job growth rate of 26 percent, which is higher than average.
Male Nurses are Gay
In relation to male nurses, one of the biggest stereotypes that may prevent more men from entering the profession is that men in this profession are all gay. A person's sexual orientation is irrelevant to being a good nurse and providing patient care. All too often there is that impression that men in nursing are predominately homosexual, and unfortunately, this nursing stereotype is still played out on television. Despite these nursing stereotypes, men, regardless of sexual orientation, are realizing the advantages of this profession.
The nursing profession is booming and evolving every day. Perhaps it's time to let go of some of the silly stereotypes that sexualize the people who care for us when we're sick, and discourage men from entering the profession, as we need nurses now more than ever before. It's not just the uniforms changing: today's nurse is less stiff and more diverse than her — and his — predecessors.
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