Three quarters of people would rule out nursing as a career, according to a poll carried out by The London Clinic.
A public opinion poll of 2000 people, aged 18 to over 55, showed that while 82% of people admired nurses and 43% believed that they would rely on them for their future care, 78% had ruled it out as a career.
The London Clinic, the UK's largest independent hospital, has shown how the nursing workforce shortages will worsen if the profession is not promoted as a successful career of choice.
The poll highlighted that only 15% of 18- to 24-year-olds were given nursing as a career option at school. This may seem low considering the shortages, yet it is nearly double the rate compared with 25- to 34-year-olds.
Nuala Close, director of nursing and a matron at The London Clinic, said: 'We rely heavily on our community teams; the practice nurses, palliative care nurses, all who have the opportunity to support patients in their recovery and possibly prevent re-admission in many cases. We need to show young people that the opportunities to excel in these areas can make a massive impact on the day to day lives of individuals.
'Whether you aspire to be a community nurse or a director of nursing at a major hospital, there are a million different roles to choose from within this profession. This is what needs to be promoted and that is what young people need to see, a profession with the potential to train, specialise and progress while making a difference to the lives of people in need on a daily basis,' she added.
When the respondents were asked why they hadn't considered nursing, 30% said it was a 'hard job' and 40% said it wasn't in their nature.
Only 19% of the respondents answered that nurses were under-appreciated and 38% thought that they did an important job.
The poll was carried out to mark International Nurses Day on 12 May.