The observant of you may have noticed that I’ve been away for the past two issues of Nursing Times.
Meanwhile my editorial column has been ably penned by deputy news editor Steve Ford and practice and learning editor Ann Shuttleworth. My thanks to them.
I’ve been on holiday in America, and while over the other side of the Atlantic, I was really struck by how they view nursing as a profession. The oh-too-frequent commercial breaks in US television programmes and news channels were, for once, of interest to me because they contained advertisements encouraging people to train as a nurse. They also showed real nurses at work doing amazing jobs and having a huge impact on patients and hospitals.
The ads portray nurses as skilled, caring and most of all vital to healthcare as they help children cope with tests in paediatric wards and older people navigate their way through difficult conditions to achieve a better quality of life. OK, so the plots of these mini commercial dramas are a little bit “made for television movie” in style, but they do attract people to a nursing career, and make the public respect the profession just a little bit more.
To suggest that this wouldn’t work over here is a fallacy. Just think of the “use your head – teach” campaigns run by the Department of Education, and you can see how showing the positive side of a job can really inspire people to take up the challenge – or at the very least take notice. If we want the best people to become nurses or just inspire public confidence in nursing, it will take more than just a glamorous ad campaign – but it would certainly be a start. And in America, I think it reveals an underlying respect for the profession that many people just don’t hold over here.
I recently received a letter from a retired nurse bemoaning the negative views held about nurses – by government, their management, their patients and their peers. He believed that the profession could change all that, if strong nurses stood up for their rights and joined forces to show the face of nursing as powerful, professional and passionate. He’s right, although of course we all know that it’s not easy. Rome may not have been built in a day, but a good start for nursing is to maintain its pride and standards – yes, even in the face of adversity. No profession was ever taken seriously without taking itself seriously first.