Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Nursing as Career Choice: Perceptions of Turkish Nursing Students

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Nursing as Career Choice: Perceptions of Turkish Nursing Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

The development of professional nursing in Turkey originated with the first Balkan and Italo- Turkish wars (1911-1912). After overcoming many challenges since then, contemporary nursing education in Turkey now compares favourably to international standards (Dal & Kitis, 2008). Nevertheless, the new Nursing Law of 2007 describes the responsibilities of professional nursing in legislation, and in specialised areas such as transplantation nursing, significant barriers to provision of universal quality care remain. These include inadequate amounts of nurses and unbalanced distribution (Cinar & Altun, 2010).

Although there are previous studies on the overall image of nursing in Turkey, the Nursing Law of 2007 allowed males to enter the profession, and scientific studies of nursing education need to provide better understanding of barriers to entry and support required for male and female students. Despite modernisation in Turkey, students still have traditional perceptions about nursing. Existing societal perceptions against male nurses prevail. For example, most of the student participants in one study had difficulty accepting the image of men in nursing and had gender stereotypes about carers (Kulakac, Ozkan, Sucu, & O'Lynn, 2009). These stereotyped views originate in traditional Turkish culture, which is highly patriarchal (Herdman & Badir, 2008). There are also embedded problems in the language. The word 'nurse' in Turkish, hemsire, means 'sister', and consequently, nursing in Turkey is considered a female profession, and the image of a nurse is considered feminine (Cinar & Altun, 2010; Karabacak, Uslusoy, Alpar, & Bahcecik, 2012). Understanding students' perceptions about the image of nursing and why they choose the profession is therefore essential to increase student satisfaction and reduce attrition.

Students' perceptions of nursing are affected by societal images of the profession (Karaoz, 2004; Milisen, Busser, Kayaert, Abraham, & de Casterle, 2010). Several studies have investigated societal images in various cultures including Turkey (Karabacak et al., 2012; Kulakac et al., 2009), China (Wang et al., 2011), Belgium (Milisen et al., 2010) and Canada (Day, Field, Campbell, & Reutter, 2005). Al Jarrah's Jordan study (2013) showed that students had positive perceptions, including pride in their professionalism, and that nursing was a prestigious and humane profession essential for society. Nurses assist patient recovery, prevent disease and implement treatment plans. According to this study, both societal and familial factors greatly impact student choice of nursing as a profession. A triangulation study in Bahrain (Eman, Seamus, & Edgar, 2012) indicated that nursing was perceived as a challenging profession that is not well accepted socially. Additional perceptions were that nursing duties included helping and caring for people, and as a humanitarian profession, it required good communication skills and patience.

A critical issue concerning the image of nursing is gender, in which stereotypes of nurses as angels or sex objects are common, together with perceptions that nurses, as females, are subordinate to doctors (Jinks & Bradley, 2004; Meadus & Twomey, 2007; Mooney, Glacken, & O'Brien, 2008). These stereotypes pervade societal views, and consequently affect the amount of workers that remain in the profession (Fletcher, 2007) or leave it (McLaughlin, Muldoon, & Moutray, 2010). A Turkish study reported that 'male students are negatively affected by societal images of nursing' (Karabacak et al., 2012, p. 542). Another study found male nursing students in Turkey had difficulty accepting the image of men as nurses and had stereotypes about the role of carers (Kulakac et al., 2009). These results are consistent with a Canadian study, which showed that non-nursing male students perceived that 'nursing is a more suitable career choice for women than men' (Bartfay, Bartfay, Clow, & Wu, 2010, p. …

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