Viewpoint: 5 common nurse myths

While the pandemic has brought renewed attention to nurses' critical role in patient care, the field is still "deeply misunderstood," a former research associate at UC San Diego wrote in a Feb. 3 perspective piece for The Washington Post.

Here are five common myths about the nursing profession, as outlined by Rebecca Simik, who spent 20 years at UC San Diego managing clinical psychiatry and neuroscience research groups focused on severe mental illness. 

1. Nursing is lucrative. While there's been a large focus on high rates for travel nurses amid the pandemic, "The reality is that most registered nurses make a solidly middle-class salary," Ms. Simik said, citing a 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics report that found the median annual wage for RNs is $75,330, what she calls "respectable but not remarkably lucrative." 

2. Nursing is no longer a desirable job. Despite stories of troves of healthcare workers leaving the industry, interest in the nursing career is high. Ms. Simik referenced 2020 data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing showing enrollment in BSN programs increased 6 percent, as well as reports of nursing programs having an overflow of applicants and a shortage of slots. 

3. It's better to have a physician treat you than a nurse. Nurses are well-rounded professionals, Ms. Simik says. Not only do they provide direct medical care, they also educate patients and family members and perform routine procedures, such as placing urinary catheters or removing sutures, that physicians may not have done since medical school. 

4. The pandemic has made nurses' jobs dangerous. The jobs were dangerous before COVID-19, Ms. Simik said, citing several pre-pandemic studies that found healthcare workers are at increased risk of workplace violence.

5. Nurses are superheroes. Nurses often work well under stress because of the demands of the job, but their resilience is not superhuman, she said. Living up to the supero image is simply not possible, as burnout is bound to set in as the exterior toughness wanes, Ms. Simik said, citing studies about COVID-19-related work stress having a negative effect on healthcare workers' mental health and nurses having a higher suicide rate compared to the general population. 

Ms. Simik is currently a graduate student in the science writing program at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars