Nursing Needs Better PR

“N.C. faces nurse shortage of 30% by 2020”, Nurses’ time at bedside may be trade-off for IT efficiency”, “Globalized nursing market may suppress pay, exacerbate shortage”, Nurse turnover fueled by stress, poor management“. These are just a sampling of some of the headlines about nursing pulled over just 3 days. There are more, but they all have one thing in common; they’re all about how bad it is in nursing. They paint a negative picture of nursing as a career. This negative picture will impact anyone who is considering becoming a nurse. Who wants to invest time in becoming a nurse when the only rewards broadcast at us incessantly by the media etc. are a fast track to ulcers, bunions, an aching back and being under-paid? Sign me up!

Now, to qualify the above, I am NOT saying we should not be engaged in open honest discussion about the challenegs surrounding the nursing shortage and working conditions for nurses. All of those headlines are dead on, and to hide those issues or pretend like radical change is not required, would be foolish and short sighted in the extreme. What I AM saying is that collectively, anyone involved in nursing is part of the global nursing on boarding team. Everyone in, related to, who hires for, or who writes about nursing has a responsibility to present the good, now more than ever. (Remember the days when media policed its own photographers and wouldn’t let anyone photograph FDR in his wheelchair? The message:”We stand united. We stand together.” Ah, the good old days…) We need to engage future nurses before they even start thinking about becoming nurses. How have we, as a nation, branded nursing as a career option? What are the rewards? Why did you get in to nursing? What do you love about the work? Is it a job or is a calling? What was the last thing you felt proud about at work? When was the last time someone thanked you or offered a simple “Good job?” Some of the big rules of on boarding are to inspire pride and collect and tell your stories, help build a personal connection in those you are trying to reach.

We need more headlines like “Nurse Retires After Over 60 Years At Work” or “Grants to improve quality through nurse training in California” or “Ga. nurses take lead in reducing infection risks in children“. We need more coverage about the wins and about why nursing is a great, rewarding career. We need to work together, united, to solve the problem of pay and working conditions and push the rewards into the spotlight in order to get nursing back on the career A list.

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