The Myths and Realities of Nursing Stereotypes

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Advanced training can help nurses overcome stereotypes associated with the profession.

Like people in many occupations, nurses are subject to being stereotyped. Common myths — that nurses must be women, that they’re secondary to doctors, that all nursing roles are entry level — misrepresent nurses and the nursing profession. The realities of the nursing profession are quite different, and nurses at all levels can work to promote a more accurate image of nursing.

Nurses can continually receive more education and expand their career horizons. Registered nurses (RNs) with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can continue their education by working toward a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). RNs looking to break nursing stereotypes can pursue an advanced degree, such as an online BSN to DNP, and become leaders in the field of health care.

A Look at Negative Nursing Stereotypes

One stereotype is the assumption that nurses must be women. Male nurses often face discrimination from patients, families, and fellow nurses. Many people assume that nurses should be women because of the myth that women are more caring and compassionate. Although the majority of RNs are female, men hold a long record in nursing history in various settings. Both men and women have the capacity to pursue the education and obtain the experience it takes to be effective, qualified nurses.

Another nursing stereotype is that nurses are secondary and subordinate to doctors. This is damaging to the nursing profession because it relies on a hierarchy of power, in which some contributors are less valuable than others. In health care, all individuals have worked to reach their positions. Doctors and nurses intentionally pursue different career paths, and the idea that nurses are failed doctors is false.

Nurses also are stereotyped as holding entry-level jobs. RNs devote several years to their education and clinicals, and they must pass exams for their licenses. With additional education, RNs may further their careers as they become nurse practitioners (NPs) or advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). RNs may also study to become DNPs through programs such as Regis College’s online BSN to DNP. This advanced degree program can enable nurses to hold additional leadership responsibilities.

Positive Nursing Attributes

The field of health care revolves around treating patients and conducting scientific research. A career in nursing requires both technical knowledge and a collection of soft skills. Nurses interact with patients every day and complete their jobs with care and compassion. They exhibit excellent bedside manner, treating patients with kindness and respect. They’re dependable and devoted to the well-being and health of their patients.

The scope of practice for NPs is great, as they follow the scientific basis of nursing and implement evidence-based practices. Nursing research is conducted throughout the world to provide the scientific foundation for practicing nurses. Research by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing consists of three major areas: clinical research, health systems and outcomes research, and nursing education research. Nurses and nurse scientists create the scientific foundation for their profession by discovering and effectively implementing improved health standards into clinical settings. The philosophical and theoretical research becomes the practical basis of nursing practice. The research conducted by nurses positively affects the everyday reality of health care.

How DNP-Prepared Nurses Break Nursing Stereotypes

Many negative nursing stereotypes exist because people don’t understand the full scope of required qualifications in the nursing field. RNs and NPs with their BSN or MSN degrees must not only maintain professional licenses; they can also receive their DNP degrees. DNP-prepared nurses have received the terminal degree in nursing, and nurses with this level of education are leaders in their profession.

Nurses with a DNP can challenge all the negative nursing stereotypes. Both male and female nurses receive DNP degrees. They work alongside doctors to implement research-based science into health care. And nurses who’ve graduated with DNP degrees qualify for leadership roles in their fields.

Prepare to Advance Your Career with a BSN to DNP Program

By gaining a deeper understanding of research and practice in their fields, nurses become better equipped to serve their patients. RNs with a BSN or an MSN can continue to learn more through working toward a DNP degree. BSN to DNP degree programs help nurses develop the knowledge and skills they need to be leaders in health care. Learn more about how nurses looking to break nursing stereotypes and become leaders in their field can prepare to advance their careers with Regis College’s online BSN to DNP program.

Recommended Readings

Regis College, Can You Earn a BSN to DNP Online with No GRE Scores?
Regis College, The Importance of Developing Culturally Competent Health Care
Regis College, What Degree Does a Nurse Practitioner Need? Why Advanced Programs Are Critical


American Association of Colleges of Nursing, DNP Fact Sheet
American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Nursing Research
Minority Nurse, “Male Nurses Confronting Stereotypes and Discrimination, Part 1, The Issues”
Minority Nurse, Nursing Statistics
ResearchGate, “Attitudes and Stereotypes of Male and Female Nurses: The Influence of Social Roles and Ambivalent Sexism”