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Nurse Stereotypes

A stereotype is a generalized idea or image about a person or thing that is often oversimplified and offensive. Stereotypes of groups can be harmful when they are untrue. Nursing has been stereotyped throughout the history of the profession. A common misconception is that all nurses are female; this has led to the stereotype of male nurses as effeminate. These generalized ideas of the nursing profession have formed a skewed image of nurses in the media. The image of a nurse projected by the media is typically of a young white single female being over-sexualized as well as diminished intellectually; this idea is then portrayed in get-well cards, television shows and novels. The over-sexualized nurse is commonly referred to as a naughty nurse and is shown as a sex symbol or nymphomaniac. Along with these common stereotypes, studies have identified several other popular images used in media such as handmaiden, angel, torturer, homosexual male, alcoholic, buffoon and woman in white. Common stereotypes of nursing and portrayal of these misconceptions have fuelled a discussion on the effects they have on the profession, harmful or good.