Union leaders are urging young people to consider a career in nursing in order to avoid a recruitment crisis.
According to the RCN, 200,000 nurses are due to retire in the next 10 years, which could lead to a staff shortage if young people do not enter the profession.
A poll of more than 8,600 seven to 17-year-olds found that only one in 20 thought nursing was the right career for them, despite ‘helping people’ being one of the most important factors in choosing a career.
The RCN found that nursing was the least preferred public sector job, behind police officers, teachers, doctors and firefighters.
Children were twice as likely to want to be a nurse than school leavers, with many deterred by the thought of blood and thinking of nursing as a ‘dirty job’.
RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said at RCN Congress: ‘Modern nursing is a dynamic career, providing an incredibly broad range of opportunities and a real chance to have an interesting, successful career that makes a real difference to other people’s lives.’