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

YouTube nursing clips 'sexist and demeaning'


More than half of videos about nurses on YouTube depict the professionals as either sex objects or stupid, a study has found.

Six of the 10 most-viewed clips about nursing on the video sharing website fuel negative stereotypes.

Four of them portray female nurses as sexual playthings and the other two present them as being dumb and incompetent.

The research, co-written by University College Dublin professor Dr Gerard Fealy for the Journal of Advanced Nursing, found only four examples of nurses appearing smart and skilled.

Those clips were posted on YouTube by nurses themselves, according to the study.

“Despite being hailed as a medium of the people, our study showed that YouTube is no different to other mass media in the way that it propagates gender-bound, negative and demeaning nursing stereotypes. Such stereotypes can influence how people see nurses and behave towards them,” said Dr Fealy.

Professional bodies that regulate and represent nurses should lobby legislators to protect the profession from “undue negative stereotyping”, he said.

The professor, from UCD’s school of nursing, midwifery and health systems, is urging nurses to take to YouTube and upload videos that promote the profession positively.

Researchers initially searched 96 of the most-viewed YouTube clips on “nurses” and “nursing”. They then narrowed the selection to the top 10 which had attracted between 61,695 and 901,439 hits.

They analysed a range of promotional videos, advertisements, excerpts from a TV comedy show and a cartoon which showed nurses in a mix of dramatised, caricatured and parodied nurse-patient encounters.

“Our study found that nurses were depicted in three main ways: as a skilled knower and doer; a sexual plaything; and a witless incompetent,” said Dr Fealy.

“The nurse and nursing stereotypes on YouTube are very similar to those reported in studies on television shows which seem to appeal to a particular public need for medical melodramas, and provide TV stations with valuable advertising revenue.

“The same revenue-generating possibilities exist on the internet and it is hardly surprising that its commercial potential should bring with it the continued portrayal of nursing stereotypes.”

The four clips in which nurses were presented as sex objects all showed them provocatively dressed and in male sex fantasies: one of the clips is from US comedy sitcom Frasier.

Of the other clips which depicted nurses being stupid, one is from a cartoon showing a nurse in an Alzheimer’s unit as dim and incompetent and one is from a US TV show that portrayed the nurse as a dumb and bigoted blonde.


Readers' comments (9)

  • Ellen Watters

    It's very sad to see nurses portrayed in this way. I wrote to channel 4 once to say how disgusted I was at the way nurses were portrayed in a drama they were showing at the time called 'No Angels'. I received a reply which fobbed me off with well we do have a nurse consulting with us. I thought well she should be ashamed of herself.

    Nurses have worked blo#dy hard to gain a degree of professionalism and gain the respect of peers and the public against all the odds and I felt this one programme knocked all that back pretty much to scratch.

    Unfortunately it is the nature of the profession that attracts MAINLY female youngsters and they work hard when studying and on shift and play hard when off but this still doesn’t mean they deserve the reputation that they are stupid and sexually promiscuous.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Money for old rope. Does Dr. Feely (phnaar-phnaar) really get paid for this 'research'? Nice work if you can get it.
    What next, using Twitter to show that 90% of people are illiterate half-wits?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think Dr Fealy's research is long overdue. There must be some regulation of material in video sharing websites in the same way there is for TV and Cinema, otherwise it can, under the guise of entertainment but in truth for commercial interests, adversely affect the nursing profession and perhaps other aspects of society which have not yet been considered.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • when redpaddys12 is done reliving puberty maybe we can have a grown up talk on factors influencing the current global crisis in nurse staffing, shortages and recruitment.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anon 21/6 6.32
    Yes, the recruitment of nurses worldwide is hampered by clips of 20 year old tv series repeated on You Tube. Perhaps we should ban it, eh?
    Nothing to do with the fact that half-educated girls ( and boys) can go into other professions apart from nursing and teaching these days, and everything to do with Barbara Windsor in her Carry-On days. Phwoar!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Pussy

    Oh come on get a life! So they do? So what? Just get on with it- pathetic!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am a current nursing student and we are taught to portray the nursing profession in the positive light it deserves. Nurses are often times objectified in the media as sexual playthings and many studies have proven this to be true. In my short time in the profession I have encountered many situations in which nurses have saved patients lives and found assessment findings that were undetected by physicians. Nurses are smart individuals that make real differences in patient's lives and they deserved to be treated as such.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • it amazes me how little understood the role of nurses is outside the profession and thus so often grossly undermined and even by those most involved with its organisation who would be expected to know more about their work.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Nursing clips? the mind buggles!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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.