How a ‘real’ nurse’s uniform for children could help banish the old stereotypes

Nurse leader wants to end profession's gender bias, starting with the dressing-up box

Nurse leader wants to end profession's gender bias, starting with the dressing-up box

Primary school children are being given the chance to wear down-sized versions of the nurse's uniform in a bid to challenge gender stereotypes of the profession.

NHS Grampian senior nurse manager Colin McNulty came up with the idea to counter the image of nurses projected by gender-biased dressing-up costumes. 

The first uniform was made and resources created for schools with the support of an NHS supplier.

'Attitudes are formed early'

Mr McNulty said attitudes and ideas about nursing are formed as early as primary school and he hoped his project would challenge the common stereotype.

‘If you look at a typical nurse costume for a child, the uniform often comes with a cape and hat, even though these haven’t been standard uniform for decades,' he said. 

'The tools they have may be limited to a thermometer and a fob watch, suggesting nurses do little more than take temperatures or measure pulses.'

He added: 'The reality of modern-day nursing couldn’t be further from this, but first impressions matter. If this is what very young children are learning about nursing then they may decide it is not the job for them in years to come. As a nurse, I wanted to change the message.’

The campaign was launched at Duddingston Primary School, Edinburgh, where children were able to use nursing equipment and take part in simulations.

It will be introduced in schools in Lothian and Grampian to encourage boys as well as girls to see healthcare as a natural career choice.

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