There are only so many times, as a nurse you can deal with stereotypes and preconceived ideas about your profession without needing a bit of a “vent session”. There are two common responses when informing others that I am a Nurse that make my skin crawl. The first is always from a male, and goes something like this, “Oh, you’re a Nurse, wow (insert ridiculous grin here) What kind of nurse are you, a naughty nurse?” Really!? Did that really just come out of your mouth sir? Oh My. The second is “Oh, you are a nurse, why don’t you just finish school and be a Doctor?” Another ridiculous reply. Here are a few more of my favorites.
“1. Nursing is a Female Profession
History tells us that religious groups, priests, nuns, and nannies took on nursing roles. However, the stereotype does have a grain of truth: Nurses were predominantly women in wartime, when men were absent from the workforce. World War I and World War II gave women in general more opportunities to advance, with nursing being one of the more socially acceptable jobs available.
Yes, today’s nurses are mostly women. In fact, women outnumber men by a 16-to-1 ratio, according to a national registry. But the stereotype of limiting nursing as a career choice to one gender does everyone a disservice. As of 2004, men made up an estimated 5.8 percent of nearly 3 million registered nurses in the U.S. — and this percentage is expected to continue growing (National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
2. The Naughty Nurse Stereotype (Ahhhhh!)
The sexual connotation of the nursing role is popular with Halloween costumes and college parties, but isn’t appreciated among professionals – especially female nurses. The phrase “Hellooo nurse!” was used in vaudeville for nursing characters that dressed suggestively on stage.
Shows like M*A*S*H suggest that nurses and doctors are more than just hospital coworkers. In HawthoRNe, the character Candy Sullivan, played by Christina Moore, often acts like the stereotypical naughty nurse. Along the lines of sexy stereotypes like the “naughty cop” and “sexy flight attendant,” this label is more about the idea of a sexual fantasy, than about the nursing profession itself.
3. RNs are Failed MDs
Ever been asked why you never became a doctor? Nurses are not medical school rejects, dropouts, or failures. They are professionals who entered into the field through a specific career path, separate from MDs. But somehow, your family, friends, and gossipy relatives just don’t get the picture.
In fact, popular hospital drama ER got a lot of flack for doing just that when they had Head Nurse Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) leave nursing for medical school to earn her MD.
There are advanced nurse practioners who work under a doctor’s supervision. Part of a nurse’s job description is to update doctors about their patients. Some even work in the OR alongside surgeons. But nurses do not actually work for doctors.
In an article in the New York Times called “Why Nurse Stereotypes are Bad for Health,” writer Theresa Brown, RN, argues “Hospital nurses are hired and fired by other nurses, answer to a unit manager who is a nurse, and follow the protocols set by more senior nursing officers … nursing is an autonomous profession and the formal management structure of most hospitals keeps MDs and RNs separate and independent.”
Bottom line? Nurses and doctors are coworkers. Nurses see to the daily care of patients, acting as a liaison between patients and doctors as the patient’s advocate. The two parties have a professional working relationship.
5. Male Nurses Are All Gay
The stereotype that “murses,” or male nurses, are gay comes from the idea that nursing is an all-female profession (see stereotype #1). Of course, the media hasn’t helped matters either. In Meet the Parents, Ben Stiller played Gaylord Focker, who was teased endlessly about being a male nurse, considered a feminine profession.
In HawthoRNe, Ray Stein (David Julian Hirsh) is often mistaken for being gay because he is a male nurse in a female field. In reality, he has a crush on Candy, the show’s resident “naughty nurse.” To add insult to injury, Stein also has hopes of going to medical school and becoming a doctor. Three stereotypes for the price of one!”
Read More Here