More youngsters should come forward to take up nursing as a career so that a "recruitment crisis" can be avoided in the years to come, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said.
A survey of over 8,600 seven to 17-year-olds for the RCN revealed that only 5% of the youngsters thought nursing was the right profession for them.
Although "helping people" was one of the main criteria in selecting a career, nursing was the least preferred public sector job.
The study also showed that seven-year-olds were twice as likely to be keen on being nurses as school leavers. Those who did not want the career at all said they could not stand the sight of blood or believed that nursing was a "dirty job".
Children aged 12 to 17 said that pay was the priority in choosing a job, while 36% said they believed better pay would attract more youngsters to nursing.
RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: "With nearly 200,000 nurses due to retire in the next decade, we've all got a responsibility to tell people about the benefits of a career in nursing."
"Why would you encourage anyone to go into nursing? We are not paid for the vital job we do now and we are under constant pressure. Perhaps we should all become MPs – they are paid more in expenses then we are paid in a year." - Ellen Kenworthy, Cwmbran
"The student bursary needs to be reviewed, there are many potential nurses out there who are unable to consider nursing due to financial commitments. People I have spoken to would love a nursing career but are unable to survive financially during the training period." - Kim Brooks