Nursing on television: Student perceptions of television's role in public image, recruitment and education

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Journal Article
Journal of Advanced Nursing, 2013, 69 (12), pp. 2635 - 2643
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Aims: To explore nursing students' perceptions of how their profession is portrayed on medical television programmes. Background: Recruitment and retention in nursing have been linked to the image of the profession in society. Images of nursing in popular media frequently draw on stereotypes that may damage the appeal of nursing for potential students and denigrate the value and status of the profession. A growing body of work analyses how nursing is portrayed in popular media, but less research asks nursing students themselves to reflect on this area. Design: Convergent parallel mixed methods. Methods: Data were collected in 2011 from surveys of 484 undergraduate nursing students at a large university in New South Wales, Australia, that included demographic data, their viewing habits of medical television programmes and their opinions of how the shows handled nursing ethics and professionalism and the image of nursing on television and nursing role models. Results: Most students watch medical television programmes. Students who do not speak English at home watched fewer programmes but were more positive about the depictions of professionalism. The qualitative data showed students were concerned that television can have a negative influence on the image of nursing, but they also recognized some educational and recruitment value in television programmes. Conclusions: It is important for nurses, educators and students to be critically engaged with the image of their profession in society. There is value in engaging more closely with contemporary media portrayals of nursing for students and educators alike. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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