How Indian nurses battle prejudice daily

The nurse is your first point of contact in a hospital, and yet usually remains faceless and invisible. Typically, they say, they are either ignored, sidelined or stereotyped; in smaller cities the discrimination can include being barred from doctors’ lifts and parking bays.
 A recent episode of comedian Kapil Sharma’s TV show reiterated some of the worst stereotypes, with one actor playing an obnoxious, loud-mouthed nurse while another trotted about in a tiny white uniform and blow-dried hair.
“This kind of portrayal is rubbish,” says Suchita Sawant, principal at the Bombay Hospital College of Nursing. “When have you ever seen a nurse with open hair?”
That may have been just a TV show, but such perceptions, they say, are their biggest bugbear. They’re tired of being seen as either a sexist joke or unidimensional and faceless.
“We are all specialising today. Some of us have Masters, MPhils or PhDs in super-specialty courses like cardiology, nephrology, critical care and oncology,” says Malathi Rao, deputy director of nursing at Bombay Hospital. “But people don’t even seem to notice.”

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