Students can see the value in a nursing career – let’s not put them off

More people are starting nursing courses this year, despite an ill-conceived recruitment advert

Many found the implication that male nurses were embarrassed by their job offensive

Thousands of students are taking the first steps of their nursing careers following a jump in applications and acceptances for a degree place.

There was a 15% rise this year in the overall number of applicants to study nursing in the UK, with 58,550 people applying.

The profession is held in high esteem

Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service also show 18,250 students from across the UK have been accepted on to courses in England – a 14% rise since 2019.

This reflects the level of interest in pursuing a career in nursing, or – as the Council of Deans of Health says – the high esteem in which the profession is held.

Unfortunately, there are some who don’t seem to recognise nursing is a career choice to be wholeheartedly respected – and they appear to include those who promote the profession to school leavers.

Advertising campaign creates avalanche of outrage

An advertising campaign by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSI) has caused much consternation in the profession for appearing to suggest nursing is an embarrassing career option for men and that A-level students should consider nursing if their grades were not what they expected.

Cue an avalanche of outraged tweets from nurses.

In response, NHSI and NHS England took the sensible decision to delete one of its posts (about being a male nurse) and issue a separate thread about what a highly-skilled degree-entry career nursing is.

Seeing what the nursing profession has to offer

This was a damaging PR blunder at a particularly sensitive time for nurses (and A-level students). It makes you wonder how these NHS agencies can be so out of step with the mood of nurses – or who checks their marketing campaigns.

While applications and acceptances for nursing courses have increased this year, much more work is needed to address issues of pay, student funding, working conditions and morale. Nonetheless this surge in interest is positive.

Degree applicants have seen in recent months what nursing has to offer in all its complexity and challenges, and have taken the plunge. That is a more appropriate message to promote on social media.

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