Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

EDITOR’S COMMENT

'The media’s ‘too clever to care’ tag makes no sense'

  • 39 Comments

My phone rang virtually off the hook last Wednesday with researchers for national media wanting to know our take on the Care Quality Commission’s report into hospitals’ care of older people.

One researcher, in particular, was adamant I helped him back up his theory that poor care was due to nurses now getting degrees instead of the “proper education” of the good old days.

I pointed out nurses have long been able to get degrees. This isn’t a new thing. And that as universities haven’t been forced to introduce all-degree training yet and even those that started it last month have only just had their first intake, his argument was not watertight.

“So in your opinion,” the insistent researcher asked, “the best way to train these young women is degrees?”

After rolling my eyes ceiling-ward, I clarified that was not my point, and that nursing training is also undertaken by men, and, in fact, people of any age. I then tried to convince him that while poor standards can’t be excused, many factors are affecting care - workload, staffing levels, skill mix, resources, society’s attitude to older people and competing NHS priorities.

“Yes, yes,” said Mr-Growing-more-impatient-by-the-second why-can’t-you-just-agree-with-my-theory. “But can you find me a traditional nurse who thinks this degree stuff is all nonsense?”

Back home, I switched on my television to check if said programme had managed to find that someone I’d refused to help locate. I was relieved to discover they hadn’t.

In what other profession would you hear the media suggest intelligence was a bad thing? Why must society derail the notion that nurses can be clever and compassionate? Nurses are not neglecting the latter if they pursue a path that proves they are the former.

Follow Jenni on Twitter @nursingtimesed

Editor direct

There will be no Editor Direct webchat this week, instead we’ll talk about this topic next Wednesday at 1pm on nursingtimes.net.

 

  • 39 Comments

Readers' comments (39)

  • Well said Jenni.

    The media's perception, ignorance and portrayal of our profession is a huge, huge problem, especially when they push - sometimes quite aggressively as you state - that very same perception, ignorance and portrayal into their nurse bashing agenda.

    It is also that same pig headed aggression, where many journalists will twist your words to suit whatever point they want to make, which made me refuse a recent request to assist with a Nurses viewpoint on a topic for a radio programme. Well done for trying to educate him at least, you have more patience than I do on that score!

    I cannot get my head round the type of thinking that does not consider a degree 'proper education' either, it is just nonsensical. What IS 'proper education' in his eyes exactly?

    And before anyone starts with the ridiculous ad nauseum debate again, Nurse training isn't perfect now, but it wasn't 'back then' either. We are both as good as each other, blah. But this isn't about that.

    As you say Jenni, why exactly are we the one (that I can think of) profession where education and intelligence seems to be demonised? (and Nurses themselves are often as guilty as the rest of the media/society). I just do not understand that.

    Isn't it just basic common sense to think that when delivering a high level of clinical care, specialised knowledge at a high level of education is not only desirable, but necessary? If not, then why are Doctors, Physiotherapists, Pharmacists, Paramedics, etc, not derided in the same way we are for attaining the highest level of knowledge for their disciplines so they can deliver the best care? Why exactly are Nurses singled out? It makes no sense!

    Is it perhaps because out of all the professions, Nursing has been the one to change so drastically? Is it because the overriding perception of our profession is based on stereotypical images from 200 years ago which have no bearing on the profession of today? (For example I have had people say to me 'what do you need a degree to make a bed or mop a brow for?')

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    I think you are both missing the point.

    I think the researcher's point was about 'attitude' - nurses spend a lot of time with patients, more than doctors, and traditionally the concept of 'holistic care' was an important element of nursing. That is not saying that an ideal nurse does not also need 'academic knowledge' but it is saying that an ideal nurse needs this 'caring, empathic, attitude' as well as the 'technical' side.

    A forensic pathologist needs the clinical and technical knowledge, but does not need the 'caring' bit at all !

    I think the doubt in some people's minds, is whether the 'increasingly academic approach' to nursing, means that some modern nurses enter nursing without this sense of 'my role is to provide CARE' in a WIDER sense than 'clinical treatment'.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    What I was talking about above, seems to be revealed by this nurse's post in the 'patience' piece:

    Jenny McIntyre | 13-Oct-2011 4:25 pm

    It is a privilege to nurse patients-patience with them is paramount, even when tried!
    Patience with the ridiculous amount of paperwork, even in this computer-age, is something else! I trained when nursing WAS nursing-common sense prevailed! Ever-increasing paperwork detracts from hands-on patient care, does not imply a high standard of care - I can cite many instances of beautifully documented care plans, diaries etc, where the care has not been applied, so proves nothing! I am most disgruntled!

    That nurse uses the word 'care', and stresses that care is what the patient experiences, not 'documentation and 'planning', etc.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Michael, it is YOU that is again missing the point. Nurses DO care. As Jenni said, gaining the academic aspects of our profession does not mean that we lose the caring aspects!!! People need to stop peddling crap like that.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    mike, we do not have the same perspective about this, because we are standing in different places !

    I KNOW most nurses DO care - I also KNOW that the experience of many patients and relatives is that nurses commonly do not APPEAR to care ! And some - probably a very small minority - don't care, even if they once did.

    You still seem to believe that the experience of patients isn't relevant, but it is crucial - if I THINK someone is being callous, it does not matter (from my position) what is going on INSIDE THE NURSE'S HEAD !

    And you did not read what I said - I said the academisation of nursing, might be leading to more people with 'less interest in caring' entering the profession: don't imply that I, or anyone else, is saying that one cannot be both an academic and also caring !

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Michael, I never said that the patient experience is not relevant, I have only argued that OUR experience is JUST as relevant, sometimes more so because the patient or public perception often does not take into account a whole variety of factors. Your perception of things as you are so fond of saying may be wholly different from the reality, yet you judge someone to be uncaring? Who says your perception is the correct one? It may be for you, but the Nurse and other patients may have wholly different perceptions, so to call a profession 'uncaring' based on that is vastly unjust. And there's the crux of it isn't it? As you say "if I THINK someone is being callous, it does not matter (from my position) what is going on INSIDE THE NURSE'S HEAD !"

    Well it bloody well does matter. It matters a hell of a lot. Because THAT is what this issue is about. You, the general public, the media, or anyone else, assuming, or thinking, very erroneously, that Nurses do not care, when we do. That leads to moronic media perceptions like the one the article is talking about. And what are these based on? Often not facts, often not the realities of the situation as outlined in the article which we have more of an understanding of simply by virtue of being in the profession. Why is the public perception SO different from the reality of our profession? Why - when the vast majority of us slug our guts out caring - do we still have to put up with this? And why - back to my original point - do Nurses have to put up with the ridiculous general viewpoint (and this crops up quite frequently) that we should not be educated to the best standard because we will lose what makes us Nurses? Do you consider a Teacher less able to teach because they have degrees? It is still a vocation after all, it just also happens to be a profession. There are many other examples.

    Your own point illustrates this exactly, and let me quote you so there is no confusion of what I have read, you said "the academisation of nursing, might be leading to more people with 'less interest in caring' entering the profession: don't imply that I, or anyone else, is saying that one cannot be both an academic and also caring !" No, but you are still wholly wrong regardless of semantics. First of all, the academisation of Nursing WILL NOT lead to more people with less of an interest in caring coming into the profession, that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why the vast majority of us enter Nursing, or any similar public service for that matter. There are in the minority, exceptions, yes, but they have ALWAYS been there, in EVERY profession. That still does not mean you can judge the whole by the minority. Secondly, you say that it doesn't imply that you don't think that one cannot be an academic and caring; no it doesn't, but it DOES imply you think the profession is fundamentally changing from a caring paradigm to an academic, uncaring one. Same thing, different semantics.

    Back to my original point, Michael, it is YOU who has missed the point. There is much, much more to consider than perception alone.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Evahopeful

    As a student I am offended by suggestions that I am doing this just for the qualification.

    The study is demanding, the placements exhausting physically, mentally, emotionally and financially but I and others persevere because we believe that we will improve the experiences of care that our patients receive.

    I agree with Jenni; increased knowledge is lauded in other professions and what is a 'traditional' nurse anyway? Would that be the dirty, uneducated woman being bullied by physicians of centuries gone by? No, of course not, the 'traditional' nurse only exists as a stereotype living in the minds of people who do not understand what the profession of nursing is about. I know that when I started my studies one of my steepest learning curves was about what nurses actually do.

    Those people who think that nursing is making beds and mopping brows are the ones that need educating!

    One more thing; historically doctors didn't have degrees but who would want to be seen by a GP or specialist without recognized qualifications today? I know I wouldn't!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    mike:

    9 patients in A&E behave well, a 10th pushes over a member of staff: what most influences nurses ?

    9 patients on a ward behave reasonably, a 10th is a complete pain-in-the-backside: which patient(s) do the nurses talk about ?

    9 nurses come across as considerate, a 10th seems to be totally uncaring: which nurse(s) leaves the greatest impression on the patients ?

    Perspective. Issues of ! Crucial to cross-party understanding.


    PS That was typed at home - so far I ahve not had the time to read your previous comment, which I will do later.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    'I have only argued that OUR experience is JUST as relevant, sometimes more so because the patient or public perception often does not take into account a whole variety of factors'

    Right, mike, I'm with you as far as 'relevant' - I have a problem when you THEN move on to 'but a nurses perception/experience is MORE valid'.

    You seem to have misunderstoot my 'if I THINK point' - that was a GENERAL 'I' and the point is, a person't reality is what the person EXPERIENCE'S in the physical world: you experience someone's actions, not their 'feelings or intentions'.

    My online time is about to run out for now, I have still to read most of your post, which I will get back to.

    And personally I am not claiming that many nurses are uncaring, as I have avoided contact so far with clinicians so I cannot express a personal view (the only nurses I have rexcently had contact with were caring, but inadequately open in terms of communication - that is my personal view, arising from the death of my mother) - I am commenting on the stuff I read which is written by other people who have been patients, etc.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    mike, I have found some more online time: your bits are inside quotes, my comments follow the quoted section:

    'You, the general public, the media, or anyone else, assuming, or thinking, very erroneously, that Nurses do not care, when we do.'

    No, I am not - I am saying that there is clearly a perception that 'nurses are less caring than they used to be'. Which must be based on the behaviour of nurses, as seen by patients and relatives. Remember, it is 'what you do' that matters, here - not having the time to care as nurses once did, still affects a patient's experience of whether nurses 'are caring'. Please do not over-simplify this issue.

    'Why is the public perception SO different from the reality of our profession?'

    Because the public are patients and relatives, and nurses are nurses - ruddy obvious, and you are clever enough to understand that !

    'And why - back to my original point - do Nurses have to put up with the ridiculous general viewpoint (and this crops up quite frequently) that we should not be educated to the best standard because we will lose what makes us Nurses?'

    I have never claimed that, and I doubt that many people have. The claim is that being well-educated is not in itself sufficient, for someone in a nursing role - patients want 'empathy' from nurses, etc, as well. I am Asperger-ish and not good at 'emoting' - I would be fundamentally unsuited to nursing, in my opinion. But I am reasonably clever - these are different things, and again you are over-simplifying the debate.

    'that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why the vast majority of us enter Nursing, or any similar public service for that matter. There are in the minority, exceptions, yes, but they have ALWAYS been there, in EVERY profession. That still does not mean you can judge the whole by the minority. Secondly, you say that it doesn't imply that you don't think that one cannot be an academic and caring; no it doesn't, but it DOES imply you think the profession is fundamentally changing from a caring paradigm to an academic, uncaring one. Same thing, different semantics.'

    I am quite aware that most nurses enter nursing primarily because they are interested in caring for people - I am not saying otherwise. I think that as there is more concentration on the academic requirements of nursing, the PROBABILITY that people who have different basic motivations (ie not primarily motivated by a desire to care for patients in an 'overall supra-clinical sense') will become nurses increases: but I'm not claiming how that balance will be altered, as the data isn't there.

    I DO think that nursing is fundamentally changing, yes. If nurse practitioners and doctors can now provide the same treatment to some patients, and they happen to provide the same clinical treatment and the same discussions, etc, then from the position of those patients, the nurse and the doctor are IDENTICAL.

    PS HCAs are not nurses, but they do have 'care' in their title - 'caring' and clinical knowledge, are therefore clearly two separate things. Separate things need not, by definition, always be present together, or else they would be linked things, not separate ones.






    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 102050results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.