Although Nurses Week is long over, the public face of nursing still needs a regular shot in the arm so that the public knows what nurses actually do. As nurses, do we describe our work in a way that gets the point across? Does the public know that we're more than the media makes us out to be?
Quite recently, I reviewed the new documentary, "The American Nurse" on this blog, and that post (and our interview with the filmmakers on RNFM Radio) affirms that this film contributes greatly to broadening the view of who nurses are and what they do. From birthing to home care, from hospice to nurses in the military, the film paints a larger vision of nursing in the 21st century.
Even to this day, when I tell someone that I'm a nurse, they almost consistently say, "So, do you work at the hospital?" The public's general ignorance that we nurses do anything outside of the hospital is understandable, especially since they rarely hear about nurses who do anything else. That said, it's our duty to inform them of the vastness that is the nursing profession, and I do my part in educating the public about what nursing really looks like in 2014 America.
Nurses, it's time to come out of the proverbial woodwork, educate the public about who we are and what we do, and help to create a profile for our profession that is realistic, encompassing the many facets of contemporary nursing.
Let's face it, the public knows that there are many types of lawyers (trial, personal injury, etc), and they know that law enforcement may involve officers who work in corrections, serve as detectives or sheriffs or beat officers, and many other players.
Meanwhile, they also know that a doctor may specialize in cancer, surgery, general practice, or a plethora of other specialties. So, why don't they understand nursing and nurses? If we're the most trusted profession in the country, pray tell me why they don't understand us?
No one is going to do this for us, folks, so it's up to us to educate the public, educate the media, and let them know who we are, what we do, and how we contribute. They trust us, so why not tell them like it is?
So, come out of the woodwork, tell people what you do, tell them how nurses practice in a multitude of areas while serving many diverse populations. And when you speak with someone interested in becoming a nurse, paint a picture for them of a profession that's burgeoning with multifaceted career opportunities, far beyond the traditional hospital-based role.
Nurses are legion, and our skills are legendary. Don't be shy. Tell them all about it.