Bad and negative publicities for the nursing profession are becoming widespread even in the cyberspace society. One of the most well-known video-sharing and social media site, YouTube, became the main concern of a recent study. The August issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing published a research on how the most ‘hits’ for the keyword ‘nurses’ on the site’s search engine resulted to offensive depiction of these professionals.
The research involved searching for frequently viewed videos under the keywords “nurses” and “nursing”. There were 96 videos cited as samples. For the preliminary analysis done on the first 50 hits for each word, it showed that the videos were viewed between 61,695 and 901,439 times for the top ten hits. The researchers analyzed ten videos, which belonged among the top ten, in more detail.
One of the authors of the said study, Dr. Gerard Fealy, from Dublin’s University College, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems in Ireland remarks, “Our study found that nurses were depicted in three main ways- as a skilled knower and doer, a sexual plaything and a witless incompetent. “
During the research, they found out that the most watched videos which ranked among the top ten comprised different aspects of the media industry such as promotions and advertising, cartoons and short clips form television comedy shows. All of which are the reenactment, caricature and parodies of nurse-patient, interpersonal and inter-professional relationships. Out of the ten videos being studied, four featured the nurses as professional, skilled and intellectual persons and are all uploaded by nurses alone. The videos showcase and promote how the nursing profession can be a calling that is both of great values and rewards such as interview with nurses, rapping and dancing. In these videos, the nurses were portrayed as skillful and knowledgeable professionals in their fields, like in a hospital setting.
The researchers had observed that nurses were often seen and portrayed as sex symbols often in uniforms that are quite provocative and subject of male fantasies as seen in some video excerpts from the American comedy show Frasier, advertisements of lingerie products and Virgin Mobile, and headline of a news segment on an online TV show.
Tops 9 and 10 shows a cartoon of a nurse assigned in an Alzheimer’s unit who was depicted as being dumb and ineffective and an American comedy show that labeled the nurse as a stupid blonde lady, who is fond of voicing out proud and ignorant views about the patients, acting in a cold and unprofessional manner.
In the research, Dr. Fealy states:
“The nurse and nursing stereotypes on YouTube are very similar to those reported in studies on television shows, which seem to appeal to a particular public need for medical melodramas and provide TV stations with valuable advertising revenue. The same revenue-generating possibilities exist on the internet and it is hardly surprising that its commercial potential should bring with it the continued portrayal of nursing stereotypes.”
After which, he continues his statement by saying: “Despite being hailed as a medium of the people, our study showed that YouTube is no different to other mass media in the way that it propagates gender-bound, negative and demeaning nursing stereotypes. Such stereotypes can influence how people see nurses and behave towards them.”
Finally, Dr. Fealy made his conclusion by mentioning: “We feel that the professional bodies that regulate and represent nurses need to lobby legislators to protect the profession from undue negative stereotyping and support nurses who are keen to use YouTube to promote their profession in a positive light.”