For the past two years nursing has been hit by a barrage of reports into devastating failures in care.
It is little wonder that many of the general public believe the profession has lost its way.
Of course the reports are shocking, and what they reveal should never have been allowed to happen. Poor practice should have been addressed before it turned into abuse and neglect. However, these examples do not reflect the reality of most patients’ experiences. Most nurses deliver technically excellent and compassionate care – often in trying circumstances, and their work should be celebrated rather than tarnished by the actions of a few people who bring the profession into disrepute.
Not too long ago the image of the teaching profession was at an all-time low. The knock-on effect was a rush of excellent but demoralised teachers leaving the profession. Universities found it impossible to attract high-calibre students to enter the profession to replace them, and it seemed to be on a downward spiral that could only get worse.
The situation was turned round, however, and a significant factor in this was a government-funded advertising campaign highlighting the best aspects of a career in teaching. The fact that it was accompanied by improved pay and conditions also helped, and once again the profession began to attract the sort of people it needed.
In today’s climate of austerity the government would no doubt argue that it cannot afford to spend money on a similar campaign for nursing – although some might argue that it can’t afford not to.
But the RCN has now stepped into the breach, launching a huge advertising campaign to show the public the other side of nursing – the side experienced by the vast majority of patients.
The campaign celebrates caring, compassionate, skilled and innovative nurses – in other words, ordinary nurses. Let’s hope the campaign reassures the public that the profession has not lost its way, that they can feel safe in its hands – and that it shows what a rewarding career nursing can be.
A career fit for the brightest and the best.