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For this assignment, I described my idea of the perfect nurse and analyzed which stereotypes it revealed, including race, gender, generation, and other qualities. After considering the notions, I concluded that my image of a nurse was a white or African American woman, aged between 25 and 50, who was kind and caring but also competent and reassuring. The description reveals that my image is subject to stereotypes, particularly those related to race and gender. In this essay, I will outline the preconceptions I had in greater detail and attempt to explain their origins.
Gender Issues in Nursing
Nursing traditionally has been considered a primarily female role, as depictions of nurses often describe them as caring and sentimental, qualities that are commonly associated with women. Furthermore, many of the profession’s most notable figures, such as Florence Nightingale, were female, as opposed to many other jobs, where most of the progress is documented as a male achievement. My description of the perfect nurse has been influenced by this ongoing perception, even though numerous men work as nurses. However, they do not receive as much recognition as the women in the same roles, primarily because the popular perception and the mass media tend to overlook or misrepresent them.
Furthermore, while I investigated the possibility of a man fitting into my image of the perfect nurse and rejected it, I did not consider people who identify as non-binary. According to Eliason (2017), this issue is ongoing and relevant in nursing, as the body of people who do not identify as one of the two genders in the traditional sense is rapidly growing, and attempts to force them to conform to the societal norms can only be harmful. Ultimately, the image of a perfect representative of a profession should be free of constraints that are unnecessary, such as gender.
Nursing, Race, and Ethnicity
The image I had in my mind was one of a white or African American person, which displays a degree of diversity. However, the United States is home to a variety of races and ethnic groups, and upon considering some of them, I have realized that they did not conform to my perceptions. For example, the construct did not include Asian nurses, even though increasing numbers of members of that race are settling in the U.S. and taking on various positions, including those of nurses. The same could be said for Native American nurses, as the idea appeared just unusual enough to introduce a disturbance into the portrait.
Furthermore, I had not considered people who belong to one of the two races, but are part of a significantly different ethnicity from the majority of white Americans. For example, I did not consider the possibility of a Hispanic nurse, a perception that appears to be supported by the popular opinion despite the lack of any disqualifying factors (Reny & Manzano, 2016). In general, it is difficult to envision people who are not part of the homogeneous population as idealized figures.
My image reveals a variety of stereotypes that stem from the history and perception of nursing, mass media coverage, and a general lack of awareness about the overall situation in the United States. In particular, I had not considered males and non-binary genders, members of races other than white and African American, and specific ethnicities such as Hispanic people in my idea of the perfect nurse. The introspection allowed me to review my preconceptions and analyze their causes.
Eliason, M. J. (2017). The gender binary in nursing. Nursing Inquiry, 24(1). Web.
Reny, T., & Manzano, S. (2016). The negative effects of mass media stereotypes of Latinos and immigrants. In G. Ruhrmann, Y. Shooman, & P. Wildmann (Eds.), Media and minorities: Questions on representation from an international perspective (pp. 195-212). Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.