Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Nurses' Voices, Part II

Reading From Silence to Voice, a book I mentioned in a recent post, some thought-provoking ideas are brought to the fore vis-a-vis the image of nurses in the world. To wit:

---How does the public know a nurse is a nurse if everyone in the hospital (except for the docs in street clothes and white coats) wears scrubs with teddy bears and angels on them? Aside from the old nurses' caps, how can nurses be distinguished and identified?

---What kind of image of nurses do the angels and bears project? Is it less professional? Does it decrease how seriously nurses' work is taken?

---Why are there so many toys, figurines, and stuffed animals dressed in nurses' uniforms? What does this say about nurses and how they're viewed?

---What does it mean that doctors are ubiquitously called "Doctor So-and-So" but nurses are always referred to simply by their first name?

---How does the "angels of mercy" stereotype demean nurses and undermine their professionalism and technological prowess?

---Do nurses emphasize the notion of "caring" to their own detriment, ignoring their vast stores of technical knowledge and assessment skills?

---Does the public really know what nurses do (other than "caring" or nurturing", or being the handmaiden of a doctor?) Do nurses have a credible public image?

---Does the media know (or care) what nurses do? Do they want to hear nurses' voices regarding weighty matters of health and policy? Why do reporters' Rolodexes bristle with the names of doctors to call for opinions, but there are so few nurses on those lists?

These are meant as rhetorical questions in this context, food for thought and discussion. For me, some of the answers to these questions might be disturbing, at best. I, for one, am driven to distraction by those cutesy scrubs---no offense, folks, just personal taste. But sometimes when I see a nurse in scrubs adorned with teddy bear angels standing next to a doc in a tie and white coat, the nurse looks like she's in pajamas. Does it matter?

Anyway, this book is obviously pressing my buttons and raising my eyebrows, and I highly recommend it.

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