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Few schoolchildren would 'consider nursing' as a career

Efforts must be made to improve the image of nursing as a career choice in secondary schools, Scottish nurse researchers have warned.

They found around 70% of older schoolchildren would “never consider nursing” as a career, regardless of their grades.

The study led by Martyn Jones, professor of healthcare research at Dundee University’s school of nursing and midwifery, surveyed over 1,000 schoolchildren from one educational authority in Scotland on their future career choices.

The researchers found only 19.1% of respondents “would ever consider nursing”.

Among those most likely to choose nursing were female students, those of average to below average academic ability and those who thought their career guidance teacher had a positive view of nursing.

The authors said: “Nursing is an unpopular career choice amongst school students.

“Strategies are required to improve the occupational image of nursing in secondary education particularly among the more academically able students and their career guidance teachers.”

The findings were presented on Wednesday at the Royal College of Nursing’s international research conference in London.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Little One

    I filled out an assessment form and did a stupid test to tell me what sort of job I might me suited to (fence painter?!) before I went to go and see my Careers Advisor so she had an idea of what I wanted to do.

    Despite saying that I wanted to be a Nurse, she told me that it was not a good career choice and that I wanted to pursue a career in Business as that was my strongest A Level. She then went on to tell me that if I did want to do anything in the medical field I should at "least try to be a Doctor and not just settle for Nursing". That was when our meeting ended.

    Some teachers have an appalling attitude towards Nursing, still holding the view that Nurses are just Doctor's handmaidens, not very intelligent, something that people with no real academic drive or qualifications do. This needs to change. Soon.

    In the newspapers students can read about the changes to the NHS, changes to pensions, changes to pay and how badly some Nurses treat their patients, or how patients seem to suffer in Hospital and it puts them off.

    Combine this attitude with views of Nursing in the media, including what I thought was an appalling representation of Nurses on C4 Confessions of a Nurse, and the fact that in programmes like ER, Grey's Anatomy, Casualty and Holby City, Nurses are portrayed as barbie dolls who are just in it to bag a doctor or as idiots who cannot think for themselves, then it is no wonder that intelligent students don't want to consider it as a career.

    Nursing does not present a professional enough image to students and too many people do not realise that Nursing is a profession in it's own right. Too many people think that Nurses are just failed doctors, and do not understand that we have our own Evidence Base that guides our practice.

    I also think that poor attitude of some staff can put students off. Some students may know Nurses or have Nurses in the family and too many of those people are saying to younger people "I'd never go into Nursing again" or "It's changed since I started".

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  • What needs to change is not just the image. It is the profession. Who would go into ANY job that pays far below what the job entails, doesn't recognise the skill or academic qualifications of its staff and offers nothing in the way of work life balance or decent working conditions?

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  • I totally agree with anonymous 28.4.12 8.14 pm.
    the profession needs to change. why would anyone want to join a profession that appears to value martyrdom above all else. we are expected to put up with poor pay, poor conditions, poor work life balance and poor recognition of our skills and knowledge. the image of long-suffering, Angels, meekly accepting their lot, is not an attractive one to new recruits is it.

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