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Students report ‘misogynistic’ warnings from lecturers over online swimwear snaps

NMC invoked in ‘scare stories’ of nurses being struck off for ‘sexy’ clothing posts

NMC invoked in ‘scare stories’ of nurses being struck off for wearing ‘sexy’ clothing in their posts on social media

Nursing students posting social media pictures of themselves in swimwear or in fancy dress that reinforces the sexy nurse stereotype are being warned by lecturers that they may risk sanctions from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Nursing students told that some posted pictures could get them struck off

Two nursing students, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from their universities, told Nursing Standard about ‘scare stories’ from lecturers who said such images would get them into trouble with the nursing regulator.

NMC invoked in ‘scare stories’ of nurses being struck off for wearing ‘sexy’ clothing in their posts on social media

Two young women pose for a selfie wearing bikinis on a beach. Nursing students are being warned against posting pictures of themselves in bikinis on social media
Nursing students are being warned against posting pictures of themselves in bikinis on social media Picture: iStock

Nursing students posting social media pictures of themselves in swimwear or in fancy dress that reinforces the sexy nurse stereotype are being warned by lecturers that they may risk sanctions from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Nursing students told that some posted pictures could get them struck off

Two nursing students, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from their universities, told Nursing Standard about ‘scare stories’ from lecturers who said such images would get them into trouble with the nursing regulator.

One student recalled how on the first day of their course in England, they were told ‘a holiday pic in a bikini could get you struck off’.

Another described how during their first year at a university in Scotland they were told the NMC could strike them off for wearing fancy dress costumes.

‘One of the first things we were told was not to go out dressed as “sexy nurses” when we graduate as we could lose our registration before we even receive it,’ she said.

The student added that universities were using the nurse regulator as a deterrent to keep students from posting anything that could besmirch the institution’s reputation. They added that this implied scrutiny of nursing students’ social media was unhelpful and urged the NMC to clarify its stance on the issue.

Associating professionalism with appearance is rooted in misogyny

Founder of the independent RCN Feminist Network Leanne Patrick said that tying professionalism to clothing for nurses was rooted in misogyny.

Founder of the independent RCN Feminist Network Leanne Patrick
Leanne Patrick

‘Professionalism is not bound by appearance, whether that is clothing, hair, tattoos or make-up, but by skill, attitude and competence,’ she said.

The NMC declined to comment on specific examples, instead the regulator’s executive director of professional practice Geraldine Walters said: ‘We would encourage all nursing and midwifery professionals and students to familiarise themselves with our guidance on social media use and continue to ensure they act as professionally as they would when communicating with someone face to face.’

In its advice for good practice the guidance directs registrants and students not to share confidential information inappropriately, post pictures of patients without their consent or post inappropriate comments about patients.


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