nursing image, professional identity, photos, ethnography


Anthropology | Nursing | Photography


Susan Strouse, PhD RN


The image of nursing is diverse and complex, with public perceptions influenced by traditional imagery and negative stereotypes. Few recent studies consider how nurses view their professional image. My study aimed to uncover how West Michigan nurses perceive the image of nursing. Approval was given by the local Sigma chapter (Kappa Epsilon at Large), to recruit participants from members, and by Grand Valley's IRB. Via an online REDCap survey, participants submitted an original photo and written narrative. Submissions were searched for underlying patterns using thematic analysis. Themes identified were: (1) nurses establish relationships with unique and vulnerable clients, using their insight to act as sources of peace, care, and compassion; (2) nurses are strong, knowledgeable professionals who utilize creative and critical thinking to address clients' complex, and at times, urgent healthcare needs. West Michigan nurses possess positive images that present nurses as professionals who possess multifaceted roles and identities as they strive to have a positive influence on humanity. The findings of this study indicate a strong need for better communication of positive nursing images, as well as continued advocacy for the representation of nursing in society.