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Perceptions of nursing: survey paints ‘reductive picture of what the job entails’

Three in five respondents would not consider a career in profession
Illustration of public's perceptions of nursing

Three in five respondents would not consider a career in profession

Public perceptions of nursing are putting people off joining the profession, according to a survey commissioned by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

The poll which received feedback from 1,000 people from around the UK revealed that three in five would not consider a career in nursing.

Survey reveals main deterrents to a nursing career

The number one factor putting people off the profession was discomfort around dealing with illness and bodily fluids, with 40% of respondents saying it was a deterrent.

A perception that nursing was stressful was the second biggest deterrent at 32%.

Three in five respondents would not consider a career in profession


Picture: iStock

Public perceptions of nursing are putting people off joining the profession, according to a survey commissioned by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

The poll – which received feedback from 1,000 people from around the UK – revealed that three in five would not consider a career in nursing. 

Survey reveals main deterrents to a nursing career

The number one factor putting people off the profession was discomfort around dealing with illness and bodily fluids, with 40% of respondents saying it was a deterrent.

A perception that nursing was stressful was the second biggest deterrent at 32%.

The survey also asked respondents what traits they thought were essential for nursing. Traits associated with emotional intelligence, such as reliability (71%) and a sense of humour (60%), scored highly among respondents. 

However, leadership skills were identified by just a third (32%), and innovation by under a quarter (23%).

Outdated views that ignore leadership and innovation

ARU acting head of the school for nursing and midwifery Louise Jenkins said the findings suggested the public’s perceptions of nursing were outdated.

‘While it’s understandable that the overwhelming view is of nurses as caring individuals, this paints a reductive picture of what the job entails,’ she said.

‘In reality, members of the nursing profession have to display enormous levels of intelligence, leadership and innovation every single day to meet the range of challenges they are faced with.’

Academic says nurses must promote their profession

Earlier this year, leading nurse academic Alison Leary urged nurses to change the way they talk about their work and acknowledge their own expertise.

Professor Leary, London South Bank University chair of healthcare and workforce modelling, said nurses needed to ‘start using affirmative language’ about what they do, which would help others to understand the complexity of nursing care.


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