These common images of nursing contribute to the willingness of students to enter nursing programs. Some consider that the nursing shortage that has existed from 1998 (Seago, 2004) has been caused by the negative image the public sometimes has of nurses. Therefore, public images of nursing have consequences in many areas of society.
As the public has its images of nursing and what it means to be a nurse, youth are influenced by those ideas. What students believe of nurses will alter their desires to enter the nursing field. This, in turn, contributes to the shortage of nurses in the United States. Of students who choose to enter the nursing field, often their images of nursing change as they enter clinicals (Sand-Jecklin). Nursing students hold images of nursing that evolve, while students who leave nursing programs maintain the stereotype that they'd had previously. This seen, it is obvious that in order to break stereotypes of nursing, one must actually be a nurse and encounter a nurses' experiences. It is difficult to change society's perception of nursing.
In terms of nursing students, it has been shown that their ideals, stereotypes, and impressions of nursing alter with their experience. Sand-Jecklin studied demographic data of 150 nursing students. Their motivations for entering the nursing field were reported. Twelve percent chose nursing for the variety of positions the profession entails; other reasons were job security, salary, and challenging career. Across the literature, findings show that among the positive perceptions of nursing, mainly found from studies on nursing students, are job opportunity and salary.
An aspect of Dr. Sand-Jecklin's study that gauged the public perception of nursing was the report the perceptions students have of nursing prior to entering nursing programs. Most often, students entered nursing programs with altruistic reasons. This phenomenon is often reported by researchers in the field. Students enter nursing because they want to help people; they see it as a caring service; they want to give health to the ill. These ideals reflect on the images on nursing, preconceived notions that students attained from living within society. These images -- that nurses are caring and comforting individuals -- are strengthened within the workplace.
Nurses, once having entered the profession, expand their views about what nursing means. Studies of nurses and perception of their own utility, show that the professionalism and technical skill they have to care for the health of patients, is synonymous, for them, with nursing (Wilkin). This means that they differentiate very little between their scientific skills and their personal empathy with patients. These are very realistic images. The curriculum taught in nursing programs is scientific. Rigors of passing Nursing Exams are academic rigors. On the other hand, the most common interpretation of nurses' utility is the 'caring' aspect.
The Public's Perception of Nursing
The public's perception of nursing has been complicated by rising health care costs. Kalisch (2004) reports that "the cost of health care has soared 240 percent since 1968 - faster than any other basic living need, including food, housing, clothing, entertainment, and transportation. One out of eleven dollars Americans spend today goes for health care." For this reason, the public may have