This week we published a research study on how student nurses see their professional identity. Previous evidence has shown that by the time students are ready to qualify many are still not confident in this identity.
This newly published research shows that student nurses take time to develop their identity as a nurse, and that hearing clinical stories from their lecturers really helps them to develop this identity.
It is vital that nurses embrace their professional identity as this will help them to recognise their value to fellow staff and patients. Establishing the value of the profession will also help to make it more attractive for young people looking for a career in nursing.
This research came in the same week as a new media campaign was launched that is billed by NHS leaders as the biggest recruitment drive in its 70-year history.
Over 34,000 nursing vacancies were reported in England between April and September 2017, with over 6,000 in mental health and 1,500 in community nursing at the end of the year.
The campaign aims to increase the total number of applications to the NHS by 22,000, as well as doubling the number of nurses returning to practice and improving retention of staff in all sectors.
“For the campaign to be a success, it needs to raise the status and value of nursing”
But, for the campaign to be a success, it needs to raise the status and value of nursing – and to inform the public about the variety of jobs on offer.
A market research study that informed the campaign found that nurses are one of the most trusted and respected professions. However, the majority of the public surveyed did not know the wide range of nursing careers available.
For example, only 3% knew that nurses worked in mental health and one third could not name a nursing role outside of hospital, such as district nursing.
And nursing is still seen very much as a female profession, with only one in four parents saying they would be proud if their son became a nurse.
The new TV ad, with its voiceover by actress Maxine Peake, attempts to move the public’s vision of nursing beyond the traditional hospital roles seen in programmes such as Casualty.
It features a range of roles, showing nurses working with the very young, with older people and with people who have learning disabilities, and working in the community as well as in hospital. And it shows men working as nurses.
“The campaign’s catch phrases will hopefully strike a chord with young people”
The campaign’s catch phrases will hopefully strike a chord with young people looking to find a place for their ambitions.
They include: “It’s not a normal job”, “We are mending lives”, “We are experts in the human body”, “We are here every day and every night of every year – we have seen it all”, “We have 11m emergency calls a year but we never panic”.
Nurses are under so much pressure, thanks to both from the nature of the work they do and the staff shortages they must cope with. Here’s hoping this advertising campaign will do two things.
First to help those currently working in the NHS to feel confident in their professional identity by recognising themselves and their work in the uplifting videos. And second to inspire and motivate young people to join a profession that can offer so much variety and satisfaction.