Background Nursing shortage is a major problem. Strategies have been adopted to contrast it. One is to increase the appeal of nursing profession to young people, to increase the number of new nurses entering the profession. No intervention has considered children in primary school -the period of life when children start fantasizing about what to do when they grow up- as possible target of an information campaign about Nursing.
Goal To investigate what perception children have of Nurses and their propensity to become a Nurse when they grow up.
Methods Cross-sectional study. Primary school 5thgraders (age 10) were asked to answer a 6-item questionnaire and to draw a Nurse.
Results 245 questionnaires and drawings were collected. 60% of children consider the Nurse as the one who “takes care” or “helps” sick people, while 23% say Nurse “helps the doctor”. 28% drew a Nurse with a syringe. Only 8% represented a Nurse talking with patient. Many of the drawings representations seem influenced by stereotypes: red cross on the uniform (61%), female nurses with starched white hat, skirt and heels (25%). 17% of children state they want to be a Nurse when they grow up; of them 63% are girls.
Discussion The majority of children have a correct idea of Nurses’ role, although their image is influenced by stereotypes. Unexpectedly, 1/6 children think of becoming a Nurse. An educational campaign about Nursing directed to primary schooler may correct wrong stereotypes about Nurses and encourage children interested to nursing to cultivate their dream.