Three in five wouldn’t consider nursing career, citing ‘squeamishness’ as biggest turn- off
Inaccurate perceptions of what the job entails are putting people off studying nursing, according to a survey commissioned by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). This is despite recent revelations that the lack of nursing staff is the “most concerning” shortage facing the NHS today.
The survey, which canvassed the opinions of 1,000 people from across the UK, revealed that three in five respondents would not consider a career in care. Discomfort around dealing with illness and body fluids, identified by two fifths of respondents, was the number one factor putting more people off the profession.
Stress was revealed as the second biggest turn-off, polled by just under a third of respondents (32%). A quarter were put off by the thought of retraining while just over a fifth (22%) stated that they didn’t want to be responsible for washing patients.
Louise Jenkins, Acting Head of School for Nursing and Midwifery at Anglia Ruskin University, comments: “It’s interesting to note that squeamishness is one of the biggest factors deterring potential new recruits from applying. Worryingly, it shows a lack of compassion for others in their time of need, as well as a real lack of appreciation of the sheer breadth of roles that a nursing degree can lead to. From mental health nursing, to teaching or research, it really is a job for life.”
The survey also quizzed respondents on their perceptions of nursing, with the findings suggesting a limited view of the profession by members of the public. When questioned what attributes they consider essential for nurses to have, traits associated with emotional intelligence such as reliability (71%) and a sense of humour (60%) understandably scored highly amongst respondents. However, leadership skills were identified by just a third (32%), and innovation by just 23%.
She adds: “Further findings suggest that the public’s perception of what a nurse’s job entails is outdated and harks back to the days of ‘Carry on Nurse’. So, while it’s understandable that the overwhelming view of nurses is as caring individuals, this actually paints quite a reductive picture of what the job entails.
“In reality, members of the nursing profession have to display enormous levels of intelligence, leadership, and innovation every single day to meet the range of challenges they are faced with. This is supported by better outcomes for patients when nurses are educated to degree level.”
One of the biggest employers in the UK, the NHS has over 1.2 million members of staff, with nurses playing a central and leading role in the organisations that comprise it. However, one in 10 nurses leave the profession each year, adding up to a record 47,000 vacancies. If no action is taken, this number will increase to 68,500 by 2024 across the UK.
Offering the largest number of health and social care courses in the region, ARU regularly attracts a large number of students looking at nursing as a career choice. For more information about courses at ARU, visit https://aru.ac.uk/.