Manolis Mentis1, Eleni Mavroeidi1, Maria Boziou1, Theoni Mavrogianni1, Chrysa Giannioudi2, Fotios Tatsis1 and Georgia Konstantopoulou1

Background: The nursing profession has struggled with its public perception as the image of nurses has been shaped by myths and stereotypes of selfless, hardworking and compassionate women helpers. This distorted image of nursing being a feminine profession subordinated to the medical profession without its own scientific field was perpetuated by the media with direct consequences on the self-image, social status and professional satisfaction of nurses. However, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed the crucial and indispensable role of nurses in times of crisis and disasters as nurses spearheaded the war against this pandemic.
Objective: In this integrative review we aim to shed light to potential shifts in the public or social image of nurses five years before the COVID-19 outbreak and one year after WHO announced that COVID-19 was no longer listed as an international public health emergency. We also aim to investigate any changes in the public’s understanding of nursing work and how the mass media projection of the profession during the pandemic has affected the social status and image of nurses. As nurses themselves may also try to fit into the expected stereotyped role, our review also examines changes in the self-image of nurses due to the pandemic.
Methods: This comprehensive review followed the methodological framework developed by (Whittemore & Knafl, 2005) which includes the following five steps: i) identification of the research problem; ii) planning a search strategy and literature search. iii) data evaluation. iv) critical analysis of selected data and synthesis; v) presentation of selected data.
Results: According to the findings of this integrative review, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly caused a more positive shist in the public image of nursing by making the reality of this profession more visible to the public on a global basis.
Conclusions: It is important that the findings of the present review inform policy makers and educators about key sources that affect the image of nursing globally and be used for further research and design of rigorous strategies to help improve the image of nursing and thus the self-image of nurses and the working conditions.

Keywords: nursing; public image; social image; social perception; social representation

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