Image of nurses' hands at computer keyboard

The nursing profession could use an image boost, according to an analysis of videos in searches for “nurses” and “nursing” on the video-sharing website YouTube. Researchers examined the content of the 96 most-viewed videos under the two search terms. They found that many portrayed nurses in a derogatory way — as provocatively dressed objects of male sexual fantasies or as dim and incompetent. Several clips posted by nurses presented educated and technically skilled images, however.

Study co-author Gerard Fealy, Ph.D., RGN from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems at University College, Dublin, Ireland, noted that despite being hailed as a medium of the people, the study shows that YouTube is similar to other mass media in propagating gender-bound, negative and demeaning nursing stereotypes.

“These stereotypes can influence how people see nurses and behave towards them,” he said. “The professional bodies that regulate and represent nurses need to lobby legislators to protect the profession from undue negative stereotyping and support nurses keen to use YouTube to promote their profession in a positive light.”