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Q: What are the main stereotypes of nurses in the media?

While there are many stereotypes of nurses, we have the main ones summarized below. The links below take you to a series of pieces we wrote for Nursing Times in 2010-11. They are short summaries of the stereotypes that we also cover more extensively in the chapters listed below from our book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk.

Unskilled (Chapter 3)

Handmaiden (Chapter 4)

Naughty nurse (Chapter 5). Also see "The Feminist Disdain for Nursing" by Ellen Baer

Job for yesterday's girl ; also see the Wannabe Physician Stereotype (Chapter 6)

Angel (Chapter 7)

Battle-axe (Chapter 8)

Advanced practice nurse as cut-rate physician substitute (Chapter 9)

See some examples of these stereotypes below.

We have just begun this list, but here's a start:


Unskilled (Chapter 3) and Handmaiden (Chapter 4)

Most Hollywood TV especially Grey's Anatomy, House and more...


Naughty nurse (Chapter 5)

See the naughty nurse FAQ page --scroll down for examples


Wannabe physician stereotype / Job for yesterday's girl (Chapter 6)

Gracie -- Gracie's mom

Akeelah and the Bee -- Akeelah's mom -- The Glades -- "Hell of a Doctor"

HawthoRNe -- Ray the nurse

Private Practice -- "A midwife in a world of doctors"

Disney's Lab Rats -- "Nurse Practitioner Evil"

The Mindy Project -- Nurse Morgan

Desperate Housewives -- "Seriously? Male nurse."

Blue Valentine -- Nurse / radiology tech Cindy

Mercy -- Chloe, series finale

See our FAQ "You could be a doctor!"


Battle-axe (Chapter 8)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest -- Nurse Ratched

Cloud Atlas -- Nurse Noakes

Sleepy Hollow


Advanced practice nurse as cut-rate physician substitute (Chapter 9)

Today Show -- "The Perils of Midwifery"

Private Practice -- Dell Parker the nurse midwife

The Mindy Project

New York Times and the Atlantic (2012)

Strong Medicine (2006)

US News & World Report (2005)

This list is just a sketch. We have many more examples on our 2,000+ page website. Please search for relevant terms with our search engine to find more.




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