There are nurses in our profession who are on a mission to elevate the profession of nursing by combating nursing stereotypes. They truly feel that as long as nurses are portrayed as buxom sex-craved women, or women such as Nurse Ratched, the profession will forever be condemned to subservience. I applaud anyone who stands up and fights for their beliefs, however I think that nurses are missing an important point.
Despite prolific stereotypes of nursing within our culture, nurses are the most trusted professionals in America. The public loves us and no one in their right mind believes that these stereotypes are an accurate portrayal of our profession. We are viewed as angels of mercy, another stereotype that many nurses are willing to accept. The problem with nursing isn’t how we are portrayed in pop culture, or how the public views us, the problem is entrenched in how nurses view each other. Nursing is not only a profession; it’s a culture all to its own, and frankly, it’s the most catty and backbiting culture on the planet. I’ve never been able to explain this phenomenon, but I’ve always suspected that it’s because the nursing profession is swimming in estrogen. Yes, my statement could be construed as another stereotype, but come on, let’s be honest, I bet that thought has crossed your mind, too.
Cultural stereotypes aren’t the problem; we are our own worst enemy. We can’t even agree about who is qualified to be a nurse. The great debate about who is educationally qualified to be a nurse rages on. Outsiders with a bird’s eye view of our profession can’t figure us out, or they take advantage of our divisions, and use them to exploit us. For example, hospital administrators have exploited these divisions for years, and continue to use them to subjugate their nursing staff. Other professions, such as doctors, are also stereotyped in the media, yet they are thriving as a profession. Doctors are powerful within hospitals because they don’t undermine their colleagues, and they work together as a united front. Nurses need to take note, and follow the example set by physicians.
Believe me, when Ken Kesey wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, he wasn’t thinking, “Gee, how can I insult nurses. I know, I’ll create Nurse Ratched. That will do the trick.” Nurse Ratched is a literary metaphor for a lot of different things, and I make no apologies for choosing Nurse Ratched’s Place for the name of my blog. As an ardent bibliophile, and as a psychiatric nurse, I find her character fascinating and I enjoyed the book. Stop throwing rotten tomatoes, and start focusing on making relevant changes that will empower nurses.
Let the hate mail begin………..