The Nursing Profession: Public Image, Self‐Concept and Professional Identity


Nursing is a profession that focuses on providing medical patients with proper care. It involves many aspects, including ethical standards, continuous learning throughout the career and even conducting research for improving the quality of care provided in the hospitals. In addition, nurses communicate closely with the patients and their relatives, making it vital for them to demonstrate high standards of professionalism. Understanding what it takes to be a professional nurse and applying the knowledge in the medical practice is essential for anyone who wants to build a career in this field.

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Characteristics of a Profession

Any profession has specific characteristics that distinguish it from the others. For nursing, the primary objective of the job is to take care of the patients, admitted to the hospitals. Thus, a nurse should be able to understand the medical issues a person has, and be compassionate to him or her. Additionally, a nurse should have excellent communication skills to be able to explain certain aspects of the healthcare to their patients. This involves having excellent knowledge in the medical field and continuously working on improving it to stay up to date with the current research.

Furthermore, a nurse should be able to conduct studies that can help improve patients care. Finally, the nursing profession is connected with the high ethical standards as it involved in respecting the decisions of people, their anonymity, and other issues. Therefore, being a professional nurse means adhering to the ethical standards, providing patients with high-quality health care services, continually improving the knowledge, and conducting research.

The Public Image of Nursing

It is essential to understand that the overall image of nursing is constructed from individual examples. Thus, every person who works in the profession should strive to uphold a positive image for it. Nowadays, the profession is suffering from stereotypical portrayal in the media. One of the examples if the 2013 reality show from MTV Scrubbing In that has caused a lot of discussion and a controversy (Schaefer & Miller, 2013). The full article regarding the issue is attached in Appendix A. The show dedicated little time to showcase the difficulties of the profession as the interactions with patients and hospital work shown on screen were limited in time. It can be argued that Scrubbing In communicated an image of nurses being undedicated and unprofessional. As Ten Hoeve, Jansen, and Roodbol (2014) state, “nurses have developed themselves into professionals with a great deal of knowledge, as witnessed by the development of nursing protocols and guidelines” (p. 296). The type of the portrayal that was showcased by the MTV show is hurting the image of nursing and the efforts that people in the field have put in to become professionals.

Despite the media controversies, the example of the Scrubbing In displays that although the nursing profession is not entirely where it should be, it is moving in the right direction. It is not where it should be as the media films shows similar to Scrubbing In. However, it is moving in the right direction as the public demanded for it to be canceled, which led to MTV agreeing to alter the final episodes and consult with the professional organizations regarding further shows (Schaefer & Miller, 2013). The case proved that change could be made if the public voices their opinion and that the nursing profession can be perceived the way it should. Thus, nurses should strive to provide an understanding to people outside of the profession of the difficulties and the hard world that a nurse has to encounter in the day-to-day life.

Overall, being a professional nurse requires high standards of ethics, knowledge, and development. The public image of nursing remains controversial, as was demonstrated by the 2013 show Scrubbing In. However, the feedback and the result of it display the changes that are happening in the portrayal of the profession.


Ten Hoeve, Y., Jansen G., & Roodbol P. (2014). The nursing profession: Public image, self‐concept and professional identity. A discussion paper. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(2), 295-309. Web.

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Schaefer, S., & Miller, M. (2013). MTV to alter O.C. nursing reality show ‘Scrubbing In’ amid protests. LA Times. Web.

Appendix A

LA Times Article

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"The Nursing Profession: Public Image, Self‐Concept and Professional Identity." StudyCorgi, 10 July 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "The Nursing Profession: Public Image, Self‐Concept and Professional Identity." July 10, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "The Nursing Profession: Public Image, Self‐Concept and Professional Identity." July 10, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "The Nursing Profession: Public Image, Self‐Concept and Professional Identity." July 10, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Nursing Profession: Public Image, Self‐Concept and Professional Identity'. 10 July.

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