The means of communication has evolved over time reaching a wider population through television, newspaper, radio, and magazines. Through this evolution, the world was able to interact and collaborate easily with one another by sharing information, ideas, and opinions. The mass media has always played an important role in our society for those not wealthy enough to own a radio or TV set. The media affects how people think and act toward the nursing profession. When the only time you see the word "Nurse" in the news, most times its always accompanied by the rider "... steals baby, ... kills baby, ... does abortion" followed by the content stating that the action was by a quack or an auxilliary nurse. After the last outcry following the post by @punch newspaper and its journalist Samson Folarin, we had hoped that the print media would change from their seeminly obsene drive to compare both quacks and RN's as one and the same. But once again to the detriment of the professsion, Nurses across the country have woken up to the glaring headline on most of our national dailies screaming:
Nurse stabs husband to death in Lagos - "The Nation Nigeria"
'Jealous' nurse allegedly stabs husband to death - By "The Daily Post"
Nurse Stabs Husband To Death In Lagos By "nairaland"
Nurse Stabs Husband To Death In Lagos, Why She Did This Will Make ... By online blog "NAIJALOADED",
Nurse stabs husband to death in Lagos... By "SpectaScope Nigeria" just to name a few.
The unjust depiction of who a professional nurse is in the media does not show the public the real responsibilities of the Registered nurse. Time and time again, Nurses have taken to social media to take to task these dailies for their blatent misrepresentation of who and what nurses are. According to the Oxford Dictionary definition, An assistant nurse is one with a lower level of training than a (registered) nurse...
The word "Quack Nurse..." in any of these headlines would definately make a huge difference since the content states its the actions of an "Auxilliary"
Although nurses are well trained health care professionals, the media shows the public the opposite. In Nigeria, our physicians get all the credit for all the meaningful work nurses do (as can be seen by the Minister of Health who prefers to recognise Dr. Adedavour but never once acknowledged the actions of Nurse Justina Ejelonu and other first responders). Additionally, the depiction of nurses as being a gender-bound career has certainly been a discouragement for men entering the nursing profession. The roots of this persistent media failure goes back to the start of the modern profession. Traditionally, the media has presented women nurses as angelic, relatively low-skilled, nurturing and highly submissive to the physicians who are usually men. But with the social changes of recent decades, the representation of nurses shifted to self-centered, uncaring, unprofessional, and unintelligent.
The public has misunderstandings of nurses' job duties when the mass media often does not show the actual responsibilities. Some people describe nurses as the eyes and ears of physicians. Indeed, it is a compliment but it is unfavorable because in the media, nurses are shown to be the ultimate helpers. However, nurses are critical and analytical thinkers who "gives direct care to the sick and vulnerable patients" and solve problems when their patient is at risk of health issues and they deserve the credit. In addition, they hold at a minimum a collegial degree focused in nursing. In reality, nurses assess, diagnose, medicate, evaluate and so much more while the doctors is at the patient's bedside for only short amount of time.
The media’s negative view of the profession acts as a powerful force to shape the public’s attitudes towards nursing because it is rare to find a nurse portrayed in the popular media demonstrating clinical skill, diligence, or compassion. According to Gordon stated that "public attitudes particularly as they are reflected in the media depiction of health care-which, in turn, reinforce nursing's invisibility and make an unattractive career". Nurses are not seen delivering care as autonomous and knowledgeable professionals, monitoring the condition of the patient, and teaming up with physicians to keep patients healthy and safe. Instead, they are often portrayed as physician helpers, not the highly skilled independent clinicians that we know they are.
These stereotypes demean the profession and hard work the nurses.
The undermining representations by the mass media affects the nursing profession negatively, especially with their duties as a health care professional. Often, portrayed as the submissive helpers of doctors, nurses have specific responsibilities such as diagnosing, evaluating, providing medication and teaching while it is shown otherwise by the popular television dramas. These negative images and stereotypes must come to an end to help the public understand the real work of nurses.
Hopefully, that the day will come when readers and audiences are exposed to portrayals of the actual care provided by nurses.
By Anthony Ijeoma
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