‘It’s time to shout about the talents of nurses’

(Nursing Times) The RCN’s vision is to emblazon the nation’s public transport systems with images and messages that communicate just how important, talented and special the profession really is. The advertisements will signpost the public to its website, which will further reinforce these ideas.

The effect may be to encourage more people into nursing as well as to ensure the public have the right idea about what it takes to be a nurse and the skills and knowledge required.

I was recently talking about the Nursing Times Awards to someone who had nothing to do with the profession. They seemed shocked that we invite nurses into our offices to present their project ideas to the judges. They thought it was “mean” of us – believing nurses to be timid creatures, only allowed out in daylight to dutifully follow the instructions of doctors or change a bedsheet.

Let’s not pretend that view is uncommon. Nurses do change sheets, clean patients’ mouths, feed those unable to lift a knife and fork, and hold the hands of patients and just listen. Those are vital nursing skills. But they are not the only things that define nursing.

Nurses can work in academia, they can educate the next generation of nurses. Nurses can work in research and find evidence to improve patient safety, experience and care. Nurses can run their own clinics, prescribe medicines, make their own clinical decisions and yes, speak out on behalf of the patient or carer – even if it means they disagree with doctors about the best course of action.

Nursing is a precious vocation. It’s time the shining talents of nurses were shouted about, instead of hidden in the background while the media launches another frenzied attack on nursing staff.

The This is Nursing film was fi rst played at the RCN Congress in May. Its theme tune became the call back into the congress room at the start of sessions, and created a few lumps in the throats of even the most well-seasoned congress goers, according to nurse tweeters.

Amid all the difficulty and challenge, it reminds nurses of what is great about their career choice and the opportunities it offers to make a real difference. Now it needs to have the same effect on the public – recreating a sense of pride in and respect for the profession, and challenging media suggestions that the entire profession has lost its way.