A Day for Professional Reflection
In a mere week Halloween will be upon us and we will see nurse costumes galore. This is a perfect time to evaluate how our profession is presented to the public. No, those trick or treaters will not be dressed in scrubs or the nurse uniform of yesterday. Instead, you will see young women wearing the traditional nurse cap and perhaps a stethoscope or Red Cross insignia on the costume and looking as if they had just emerged from a Russ Meyer film. Mr. Meyer influenced such directors as John Landis and Quentin Tarantino with films such as “Motor Psycho” and “Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens”. You get the picture. Not exactly the stellar role models that the ANA would endorse.
And while nursing may fact the most stereotyping, objectification and sexualisation of all professions year round, it is not alone on Halloween. You will see the Sexy Nurse, the Sexy Policewoman, even the Sexy Nun costume. But come November 1st, the nurse will stand alone until next Halloween. True, the costumes will be gone but the attitudes and perceptions that downgrade nurses will remain. If you doubt me, pay attention to the majority of nurse portrayals in movies, sitcoms, medical dramas and the soap-operas.
To counteract these stereotypes, nurses need to be very aware of the way they present themselves to peers, patients, families and visitors. If you want to be successful and taken seriously, then cultivate that image starting with your attitude and dress. It is possible to be fashionable, attractive and even sexy and remain professional. And to be clear, sloppy, wrinkled and torn clothing is no more professional than dressing like a female cast member from Two and a Half Men. It could be argued that it is even worse since it indicates apathy instead of poor judgment. Bottom line, think before you speak and make your clothing is speaking for, not against, you.