Can nursing educators learn to trust the world’s most trusted profession?

Philip Darbyshire, David R. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Nursing and nursing education face a paradox whereby the world's most trusted profession seems not to trust its own students and practitioners. Much of nursing education has adopted what has been memorably described as the ‘cop shit’ approach. This is the panoply of surveillance, anti-plagiarism and proctoring technologies that appear to be used more for policing and punishment of an inherently dishonest student body than to develop ethical and scholarly writing among future peers and colleagues. Nurses in practice may experience similar levels of distrust as they face growing micromanagement and control of both their appearance and nursing practice. We propose that these practices of distrust emerge, not from malice, but rather from the omnipresent neoliberalism and managerialism that engulf almost every aspect of health and university life. Neoliberalism's success has been to reformat academia and practice to the point where such ingrained mistrust has become merely a neutral recognition of ‘the real world’. Dismantling nursing and education's ‘cop shit’ culture and replacing it with the trust and respect that the world's most trusted profession is accorded by wider society will not be easy, but it is vital for the future of nursing.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12412
JournalNursing Inquiry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


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