The image of you: constructing nursing identities in YouTube

J Adv Nurs. 2012 Aug;68(8):1804-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05872.x. Epub 2011 Nov 9.


Aim: This article is a report on a descriptive study of nursing identity as constructed in the Web 2.0 site YouTube.

Background: Public images of the nurse carry stereotypes that rely on the taken for granted gender category of the nurse as woman. Nursing images represent a form of public discourse that has the capacity to construct nursing identity.

Methods: Critical discourse analysis was used to describe, analyse and explain how nurse and nursing identity were constructed in a purposive sample of ten video clips accessed on 17 and 18 July 2010.

Results: The ten most-viewed videos depicting the nurse and nursing on YouTube offered narratives that constructed three distinct nursing identity types, namely nurse as 'a skilled knower and doer', nurse as 'a sexual plaything' and nurse as 'a witless incompetent' individual.

Conclusion: Nursing identities recoverable from the texts of YouTube images propagate both favourable and derogatory nursing stereotypes. To mitigate the effects of unfavourable nursing stereotypes in such areas as interprofessional working and clinical decision-making, nursing professional bodies need to act to protect the profession from unduly immoderate representations of the nurse and to support nurses in their efforts to maximize opportunities afforded by YouTube to promote a counter discourse.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health
  • Clinical Competence
  • Erotica
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nurse's Role / psychology*
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Nursing
  • Nursing Research / methods
  • Power, Psychological
  • Public Opinion*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Media*
  • Stereotyping*
  • Video Recording
  • Young Adult