The Truth About Nursing
middle header
| More    
side header
Print Email Sign up for free news alerts Join now and receive three free RN patches Become a member! Follow our television analyses Call the Midwife analyses Follow Nurse Jackie Join our Grey's campaign Read our 'The Mindy Project' reviews Follow media portrayals of nursing on television Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk News on nurses in the media Join our letter-writing campaigns Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk media reviews of nurses in the media, see films, television, music, video and others Take action to change how the world thinks about nursing conferences speaking engagements nurse-created media Materials for nursing professors Become a Nurse! Research and sources FAQs press room chapters about us The Truth About Nursing's donors please donate contact us Truth About Nursing Facebook page become a member archives search Kanarek Family Foundation Tom Green County Partnership UNLV Wisconsin Nurses Association California School Nurses Organization AANAC CHAT Office of the National Nurse

News on Nursing in the Media


Take Action!

Nurse 0D: Nurse 3D finally released

Nurse 3D posterJanuary 27, 2014 -- On February 7, Lionsgate will finally release Nurse 3D, an erotic thriller about a vengeful nurse who uses her sexuality to target "dishonest" men for "severe" punishment. We expressed concern about the film when production began in 2011 and were hoping it would never see wide release, but now the film's site states that it will be in AMC theaters in some major U.S. markets and on demand just in time for Valentine's Day 2014. Despite suggestions by Lionsgate executives that the film's theme is novel and original, it is really just a variation on the classic naughty nurse stereotype that has become well-established in other horror films and ads, such as the posters used to promote the 2006 release of Lionsgate's own Saw III--posters on which Nurse 3D seems to be based. Such imagery, which we call the "naughty-axe," unites the profession's naughty and battle-axe images in one unsavory package of sex and violence. So it suggests that nursing is all about mindless feminine extremes, rather than life-saving work for skilled professionals of both genders. We always hesitate to criticize media when we have only seen the trailer, but these two and a half minutes make it pretty clear that the main character is a sadistic, sexually aggressive killer with severe psychological issues (new tag line: "your pain is her pleasure"). Sign the Petition!It's hard to see how a film with that basic outline could avoid reinforcing these enduring nursing stereotypes. Please join us in urging those involved in the release of Nurse 3D, including the prominent theater chain AMC, to pull the film from theatrical and on demand release and to make amends for the damage the film will likely cause. Click here to go straight to our letter-writing campaign! (Put your comments to the filmmakers in the "Why is this important to you" box.) Thank you!


Take Action!

Problems with Nursing

December 4, 2013 - Tonight's episode of the popular ABC sitcom Modern Family revealed that Dylan, the sometime boyfriend of character Haley Dunphy, was attending nursing school. That's great, right? Sweet, attractive Dylan, a straight guy who won't reinforce the stereotype that men in nursing are all gay! Except, umm...Dylan is clueless. Modern Family castActually, he's always been more or less an idiot, and a good match for the superficial Haley. Dylan's reveal about nursing school came at a football game where he also showed Haley some graffiti he'd once written for her on the stands--"HALEY DUNPHY DOME." Dylan said he'd meant that to read "do me," but he'd always had "problems with spacing." Dylan, a musician, also explained that the transition to nursing made sense because whereas he'd once healed with music, he'd now be "doing the same thing with drugs." That's cute, but on the whole, Dylan's pursuit of nursing reinforces the stereotype that any well-meaning dimwit can become a nurse. We would be fine with Dylan suddenly becoming a non-idiot, but assuming that show producers have any interest in continuity--Dylan has been this way since the 2009 series premiere--it seems best for Modern Family to quickly phase out his nursing career, ideally with some plotline emphasizing that (who knew?!) nurses actually have to be intelligent, savvy people with an education. See the film clips or go straight to the petition!


Take Action!

Nurse Practitioner Evil!

Lab Rats castAugust 5, 2013 -- Today's double episode of Disney XD's tween series Lab Rats included a brief but powerful attack on nurse practitioners. The live-action show, which is kind of a sci-fi / action sitcom, focuses on a trio of bionic teens who live incognito with their brilliant inventor father and, you know, fight evil. In this episode, the father's exiled brother and former business partner returns to take revenge and use the teens for nefarious ends. At one point, the father mocks his brother by noting that he has turned into "Dr. Evil...or should I say Nurse Practitioner Evil, since you flunked out of med school!" The brother admits that he was "dismissed" from school for "screaming too loud when I saw the needles." Of course, it's absurd to suggest that failing medical school qualifies you to be a nurse practitioner--despite not being able to handle needles, no less. But the insult will register clearly with the 9-14 year-old males who make up the show's main audience; they will likely absorb the basic message that NPs are losers who can't hack medical school. It's actually a mark of progress that NPs are now well-established enough in U.S. culture that the show creators assumed this audience would get the reference. But it's not surprising that the content of the reference is consistent with the wannabe physician stereotype and the baseless anti-NP messages sent by physician groups and too much of the mainstream media in recent years. In fact, a great deal of research shows that NPs provide care that is at least as good as physicians. NPs are nurses with graduate degrees in nursing who, as a class, have no desire to be physicians. But NPs can and do play a critical role in delivering high-quality, cost-effective care in these difficult times. more...see the film clips or go straight to our petition--please tell Disney and the show creators not to be evil!


Nurse X confronts a cutting-edge technique

cutting to find bloodDecember 14, 2013 -- Today the Irish Examiner ran a report by Kevin Keane that featured a remarkable piece of patient advocacy by an unnamed nurse:  snatching a scalpel from a physician's hand as he was about to "cut into an elderly patient's vein in order to take a blood sample." The piece describes evidence presented at a recent "medical council inquiry" into allegedly poor care by the physician in 2009 at Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise. The nurse, identified only as Nurse X, had apparently asked the physician to insert and draw the blood from a tube. After she took the scalpel away, he reportedly "mumbled something under his breath and had a blank look on his face." Although it may not have taken a lot of health care knowledge to see that this method of drawing blood was a danger to the patient, it did take courage to take a scalpel away from him, particularly in a setting in which nurses apparently are not permitted to draw their own blood samples. The report includes some additional comments from Nurse X to the effect that the physician "just hadn't a clue how to treat a patient," as well as information from a senior physician along the same lines. The scalpel anecdote is brief, but it's a great illustration of the role that direct care nurses can and should play in protecting patients from any threat. We thank Mr. Keane and the Irish Examiner. more...


Kickball and tummy aches:
The 2012 Truth About Nursing Awards for Best and Worst Media Depictions

Best and Worst Media Depictions 20122013 -- The Truth About Nursing announces our 10th annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses! The year 2012 featured the popular BBC/PBS series Call the Midwife, which showed skilled and autonomous nurses caring for the poor in 1950's London, as well as valuable new seasons from Showtime's Nurse Jackie and Channel 4's documentary series 24 Hours in A&E in the U.K. Mainstream press sources published good items ranging from Tina Rosenberg's excellent New York Times piece about the value of APRN-run clinics, to Julian Guthrie's San Francisco Chronicle profile of UCSF nursing dean David Vlahov, to Ronan McGreevy's Irish Times report about the University College Dublin study of nursing imagery on YouTube, to an Indian Express piece about a recent study on the appalling working conditions that Indian nurses confront. And many nurses advocated strongly for better public health and for better media about nursing, including Massachusetts nurse Wendie Howland, who monitors the "Help a Reporter Out" website to educate journalists when they seem to assume that only physicians can provide health expertise for their stories. On the other hand, the year also included the usual onslaught of damaging distortions from the media. The U.S. prime time landscape remained dominated by shows with little respect for nursing, including ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Fox's House, each of which featured a slew of strong, expert physician characters providing all meaningful care, while nurses were handmaidens who did little more than fetch things. Fox's new sitcom The Mindy Project focused on quirky but skilled OB-GYN physicians, but also included nurse Morgan Tookers, a goofy ex-convict with little apparent health skill. On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, in a segment about re-integrating military medics into the civilian workforce, the host insisted that the medics were vastly overqualified to be school nurses and mocked school nurses as being all about "kickball" and "tummy aches." And the "naughty nurse" remained a staple of the entertainment industry, appearing in everything from a Dallas Mavericks Dancers routine to an actual job ad from a Swedish hospital. Despite these problems, we thank those responsible for the best media and encourage others to keep trying. see the full awards...


Take Action!

J&J stops advertising on Scrubbing In, but keeps on advertising on Grey's Anatomy

J&J end sponsorshipNovember 25, 2013 -- Johnson & Johnson has sent the Truth correspondence that they have ceased advertising on "Scrubbing In." We checked episode #5 online and broadcast and have verified that all the J&J ads are gone. We would like to thank J&J for this. But we have asked J&J at least 5 times if they would cease advertising on the far more influential Grey's Anatomy and The Mindy Project shows and Andrea Higham, Director of the Campaign for Nursing's Future, responded "I do not have any control on our brands airing in the other shows – they are dramas and are looked at differently than reality shows featuring real nurses." We asked her who did have control over this advertising so we could follow up with that person and Ms. Higham still hasn't responded. We are keeping our campaign wide open to continue to pressure J&J to stop advertising on all media products that degrade nursing. Will you please join us? Here's the link to our petition. Please circulate to friends and colleagues. Thank you!



Scrubbing Less                                                                                    See our press release

Cast Scrubbing InNovember 17, 2013 -- Since MTV's 10-episode reality show Scrubbing In premiered last month, tens of thousands of nurses, as well as the Truth and other nursing groups, have worked to persuade MTV to cancel the show or at least reduce the damage it is causing. See our original analysis. After these collective efforts, MTV reached out to The Truth About Nursing to engage in extensive discussions about how to ameliorate the situation. MTV has agreed to take several helpful steps, including airing the show at a less prominent time, some re-editing of episodes, and other efforts to convey accurate information about nursing, although the last six episodes will air. Thank you to those who protested the show's focus on very personal details of the lives of the nurses with little suggestion of nursing skill or knowledge, all of which tends to reinforce nursing stereotypes. Below we explain the five main steps MTV has agreed to take, including a "Day in the Life of a Nurse" MTV website feature. We also ask that you join us in urging Johnson & Johnson and others to stop sponsoring Scrubbing In; despite promises to stop, J&J has continued to place ads for its products on the show up through at least the fourth episode. Please click here to sign the petition to ask J&J to cease its advertising on Scrubbing In and other shows that degrade nursing. Thanks again! more...


Scrubbing Out

Cast Scrubbing InOctober 24, 2013 - MTV's new reality show Scrubbing In, which premiered tonight, focuses on nine young travel nurses in California, but it isn't really about nursing. Sure, the show created a firestorm in the nursing community before it even aired because of advance indications that the nurses might come off as twits 'n' sluts. The first episode does suggest that the nurses were not selected to appear because of their nursing experience or ability to convey an accurate and comprehensive picture of the profession. Instead, they seem to have been chosen for their strong personalities, physical appearance, and eagerness to embrace reality show culture. The vast majority of the episode is the nurses' personal interactions, with a focus on partying, romance, and sex (e.g., "I have big fake boobs!" "Did you guys bring your vibrators?"). Well, that's a different vision of Nursing's Future for show sponsor Johnson & Johnson, whose Neutrogena products were advertised during the episode, isn't it? The episode's limited depictions of nursing are pretty awful. At one point, two nurses do a passable job caring for a patient who looks like she is faking a seizure for the camera, but the scene does not exactly inspire confidence in their skills or knowledge. Another time, a nurse who is apparently on duty is shown practicing starting IV's in a way that suggests she has little idea what she's doing. Another nurse spends significant time trying to help her and is later chastised (rightly) by his supervisor for abandoning his unit. Two nurses show up in California without California nursing licenses (apparently those DUIs were creating a delay!). A nurse sits on her bed wearing dirty scrubs, heedless of the potential for bringing deadly organisms into her personal surroundings, as another nurse points out to her--and to viewers. There is virtually no mention here of nursing education, practice specialties, research, or policy leadership. Nurses, like anyone else, should be allowed to discuss and engage in social activity in any lawful way; nurses are not angels and holding them to regressive personal moral standards actually undermines the profession. But associating nursing with frank sexuality does risk reinforcing the naughty nurse image that the average reality show participant does not face. And watching several of the nurses giggle about looking for "hot doctors" calls to mind the related stereotype that nurses are physician golddiggers. On the whole, the show fails to convey that the vast majority of nurses are serious professionals who save and improve lives with their advanced skills. And because the show's focus and structure is personal drama and self-reflection among reality-show twenty-somethings, many viewers may conclude that nurses in general are not especially serious about their work--and that they don't need to be. The show is likely to reinforce ideas that have long undermined nurses' claims to adequate resources for education and clinical practice and that now threaten the health of millions worldwide. We urge MTV to cancel the show, and we hope that at a minimum, the producers will try to give some sense of real nursing skill. read more...and please join our letter-writing campaign!


Take Action!

A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray

Penny with syringeOctober 3, 2013 -- Tonight's episode of Fox's Glee included an abysmal depiction of school nursing. In the Beatles-themed episode ("Tina in the Sky with Diamonds"), the McKinley High School principal apparently hired a college student named Penny--who had not yet even begun nursing school--to give vaccinations and other school nursing care. Penny described her work as part of "an internship" that would help her gain admission to nursing school later. Penny was dangerously incompetent; her "care" included mistakenly injecting urine instead of vaccine. And the episode implied that a real nurse would be better. But Penny was still repeatedly identified as "Nurse Penny," and the overall effect was to make a mockery of school nursing. Such media disinformation, even as a "joke," contributes to the undervaluation that has already led to rampant understaffing of school nurses and now takes the lives of students everywhere. Please urge those responsible to make amends! more or go straight to our letter-writing campaign!


Ring of Power

Frey from Elysium in uniformAugust 2013 -- Elysium isn't just another dystopian action movie. In this one, unequal access to health care is a central part of the brutal oppression of the 99% by the privileged few, and a skilled nurse character is one of the hero's allies in his mission to subvert the Earth's selfish overlords. South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp presents the planet in 2154 as an overpopulated, overheated mess controlled by bullying androids. Meanwhile, the wealthiest humans reside on a luxurious orbiting ring called Elysium, where "med bay" machines can cure any illness short of death. Yet no one on Earth itself has access to a med bay. Instead, people crowd overburdened hospitals like the Los Angeles facility in which nurse Frey works, apparently in the emergency department, when she is not caring for her leukemia-stricken daughter. After Frey's childhood sweetheart, the combat-ready ex-convict Max, runs afoul of the machinery of the state and seeks Frey's help, she becomes part of a desperate plan to challenge the evil order. The movie's structure owes something to Robocop, The Matrix, and Iron Man, and it's full of bloody violence and multi-level intrigue, plus Jodie Foster speaking French. So there isn't much time for nursing. Still, Frey does handle Max's serious abdominal knife wound on her own, even though she initially tells him that he "need[s] a doctor." We also see in flashbacks that when she and Max were kids, she was the clever, literate one. The film suggests that Frey reports to senior nurses, not physicians. And she is strong enough in trying to protect her daughter, though she also spends a lot of the film's second half needing to be rescued, and her character could have been further developed. But many of the human characters are somewhat underdone or overdone; the androids get most of the best lines. In any case, the striking and often compelling movie shows a nurse as someone with real health care ability and aligns nursing with those seeking a more just world. more...


Mighty Med meets Nurse Nation

cast of fall characters September 2013 -- The fall TV landscape has plenty of physician-centric health shows, but nurses are in the mix. Sure, ABC's popular Grey's Anatomy (premiering Sept. 26) will be back for its 500th season with a dozen brilliant, sexy surgeons and some almost-invisible handmaiden nurses. Mindy Kaling's Fox sitcom The Mindy Project (Sept. 17) will return for a second season with three quirky but skilled OB-GYNs and three demented and/or nasty minor nurse characters. The CW's Hart of Dixie (Oct. 7), about a young New York physician in a small Southern town, will be back. And the cable arts network Ovation will offer A Young Doctor's Notebook (Oct. 2), a "darkly humorous" new series about the travails of a young physician at a remote hospital during the Russian Revolution. But ABC's Private Practice and Body of Proof are gone, and all four of the godlike-physician hospital dramas that premiered on other networks last year failed (Do No Harm (NBC), The Mob Doctor (Fox), Emily Owens, MD (CW), and Monday Mornings (TNT)). CBS will offer the thriller-drama Hostages (Sept. 23), in which a rogue FBI agent kidnaps the family of a surgeon who has been chosen to operate on the President and demands that she kill the chief executive in surgery. An equally plausible new tween sitcom called Mighty Med, about the "superhero" wing of a local hospital, will appear on Disney XD (Oct. 7); it's not clear yet whether superheroes need physicians or nurses. Other shows will clearly have nurses. MTV has a new reality show called Nurse Nation (now called Scrubbing In) that "follows nine twenty-something travel nurses all assigned to work at a new hospital in a brand new city for 13 weeks." NBC's Parks & Recreation (Sept. 26), the local government sitcom with respected nurse and public health official Ann Perkins, returns. Ricky Gervais's new Channel 4 "comedy-drama" Derek, available in the U.S. on Netflix (Sept. 12), focuses on the "quirky" staff and residents at a nursing home, whose director Hannah is sometimes described as a nurse. Channel 4's documentary 24 Hours in A&E has just finished its third season in the U.K., with skilled nurses among its cast, but only the first season has aired in the U.S., on BBC America. Also in the U.K., ITV Studios is filming a new drama called Breathless (early 2014) "about a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital in the 1960s, a world in which everything and everyone has their place." In spring 2014, Showtime's powerful Nurse Jackie will return for a sixth season of clinical expertise, creative patient advocacy, and perhaps more unfortunate suggestions that nurses report to physicians. And returning for a third season on PBS will be the BBC drama Call the Midwife, which focuses on eight (!) skilled, autonomous nurse midwives caring for poor women in 1950's London. So on balance, the new season could sound worse for nursing. Join us in tracking it! See the full review of the upcoming television season!

Want a historical look? See our fall TV previews from:

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
2007 2006 2005 2004 2003



Slim Jim murseAugust 2013 --  In recent months ConAgra Foods has been running video ads for its "jerky snack" Slim Jim that feature a self-identified "murse" distributing the product in a hospital waiting room to men suffering from different forms of "male spice loss." That malady is the subject of a broader ad campaign ostensibly aimed at helping men who have chosen to forego accepted macho pursuits in favor of weird, vaguely feminine activities like yoga and matching outfits. That is, the ad campaign is aimed at selling jerky to young males who might actually fear such an absence of traditional maleness. For nursing, the ad is surprisingly complex. The term "murse," used at least as early as 2003 on the sitcom Scrubs, is basically a cute contraction of "male nurse." And like that term, it may imply that men in nursing are not simply "nurses," but something else, questionable both as nurses and as men. On the other hand, we know that some men in nursing don't object to "murse" and may even use it themselves. Anyway, the Slim Jim nurse in this ad is not exactly displaying great health care expertise. And when he notes that "it's my job to distribute Slim Jims to patients suffering from male spice loss," there may be an implication that he's just doing what someone else told him to. But on the whole, the ad is laughing with the nurse, not at him. He projects traditional masculinity, with his authoritative voice and military fatigue pants. And he says and does things viewers are supposed to be amused by, mocking the "patients" by publicly labeling them (e.g., "tantric yoga guy") and throwing their prescribed snacks to them (naturally, they can't catch). The nurse also uses relatively large, clinical-sounding words, suggesting some level of education. We wondered if men in nursing were being singled out, but traditionally male health care figures play similar roles in other ads in the company's "spice loss" campaign (see ads featuring physicians and first responders). The idea seems to be simply that men help men be men. And so, despite the "murse" term and the gender-role intolerance in the ad, it may actually be a small step toward normalizing the idea of men in nursing with some of the ad's target audience. We're not suggesting anyone thank ConAgra, but it's food for thought. more...



Julia Bucher, Ann GallagherJuly 3, 2013 -- Although the New York Times remains far more likely to consult physicians as health care experts, in recent times the paper has occasionally consulted nurse experts as well. For example, today the paper ran a very long and very helpful "Ask an Expert" column featuring York College nursing professor and advanced practice nurse Julia Bucher (right), who gave practical, sensitive advice to readers caring for relatives with cancer. Bucher addressed difficult topics and advised the often distraught family members asking the questions with a great deal of tact, yet she still managed to provide real support and critical information, with links to additional resources, particularly social workers and nurses. Bucher advocated a team-oriented, problem-solving approach, with a focus on practical options, to help readers cope with tasks and emotions that can seem overwhelming. Sometimes her responses included general questions that readers should consider in evaluating their own situations. And in some cases, the questions were longer than Bucher's responses, as if some of what she was doing was giving questioners a supportive ear (and the ears of Times readers) in airing concerns about which there may be no easy answer. A couple months earlier, on May 1, the Times ran a much shorter "Room for Debate" feature about the ethics of force-feeding inmates on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay prison. The paper included Ann Gallagher (right), director of the International Centre for Nursing Ethics at Surrey University and editor of the journal Nursing Ethics, as one of five "debaters." Gallagher's short contribution argued, with restraint and sensitivity, that nurses who decline to force-feed are acting in accord with their ethical obligations as caregivers and that the prisoners have the right, as autonomous individuals, to refuse treatment, including hydration and nutrition. Both Times features allow articulate, diplomatic nursing leaders to give readers a sense of an important aspect of health care--and the nursing that plays a central role in that care. We thank the Times. more...


Come with me if you want to live

Vice President Joe BidenJune 3, 2013 -- Today, during a speech about mental health awareness, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spent about a minute paying tribute to nurses. That short part of his speech implicated issues including nursing skills, nursing autonomy, the nurse as angel, the profession's gender mix, and even the naughty nurse. Biden mentioned psychiatric nurses, and then, apparently departing from his prepared text, said that "if there's any angels in heaven, by the way, they're all nurses," referring to his personal experience with neurosurgery. Of course, nurses are not angels, but real professionals who save lives with education and skill--and unlike angels, they need the resources to do so. Then, in the remark that's gotten the most attention, Biden said:  "Doctors allow you to live, nurses make you want to live." Well, sort of. If he meant nurses focus on psychosocial care, motivating you to keep trying and showing you how, that's good, although he might have simply meant nurses are nice people who cheer you up. Unfortunately, the remark implies that physicians save lives and nurses don't save lives, which is false. And as titters from the audience alerted Biden, the statement can also be interpreted, though not fairly, as a clichéd reference to hot female nurses making sick men want to live for reasons that we can't specify here or our news alert will bounce back. Biden quickly noted that he was referring to "male nurses and female nurses." Finally, Biden said that during the two months he spent in the ICU, his neurosurgeon would enter his room and say (here Biden adopted a deep, somewhat pompous voice): "We gotta do this, this, this, and the other," and "my nurses would all go, 'yes, sir,' and then they'd do exactly what I needed." We appreciate Biden's suggestion that the nurses had the knowledge and skill to do "exactly what [he] needed." It's sad but plausible that the nurses felt they had to do it covertly, as Biden implies, presumably because they lacked the social power to simply discuss care with the surgeon as a professional colleague. We thank Vice President Biden for presenting some helpful information about nursing. more ... and see the video clip!



American Family Care clinics--You get to see a physician, not a nurse!

American Family CareMay 31, 2013 -- Truth About Nursing supporters recently told us about a television commercial being aired in the southern United States by American Family Care, an aggressively expanding chain of urgent care clinics that plans to have more than 140 locations in 26 states by the end of this year. The ad featured two people texting back and forth about where to seek health care. At the end, one texter recommended that the other go to American Family Care because there you get to see "a doctor, not a nurse." We could not locate the commercial (we created the image above based on what people told us the ad was like), but American Family Care itself was not hard to find. We placed about 7 calls, 1 per day, to Felicia Fortune, the corporation's director of marketing. She never returned any calls. Then we placed a call to company CEO Bruce Irwin and left a detailed message. American Family Care's chief medical officer Glenn Harnett returned our call and had a long discussion with Truth executive director Sandy Summers--you can listen to a recap of that phone call here in an mp3 (9 min). Harnett insisted that the care provided by physicians was better than that provided by APRNs based on the length of physicians' formal education. However, APRNS typically get as much formal health science education--4 years--as physicians do, and in any case a mountain of research in recent decades has shown that if either of the two professions has better patient outcomes, it's nurses. Harnett was not interested in the research, despite the strong and increasing emphasis on evidence-based practice in modern health care. He did, however, tell Sandy that American Family Care would pull the ad. We thanked him. Harnett said the company would replace it with an ad that went something like this: "At American Family Care, we care about you. That's why when you come to our clinics, you get to see a physician." We told him that isn't much better, since it implies that the people you're not seeing--which in the quick clinic context would only be APRNs--are inferior to the ones you are seeing. Sadly, Harnett did not see our point. And he refused to let us help the company create an ad that was not offensive or to send us a link to the new ad once it was done. By the way, we see that the company's "staff openings" section currently lists four (4) Family Nurse Practitioner positions in Alabama--we certainly hope the company "cares about" its Alabama customers as much as the others! Anyway, if you see a new version of the company's ad or related marketing efforts, please send us a copy or write to us at Thanks very much!!


Innate compassion and learned behavior

The American NurseMay 6, 2013 -- To mark International Nurses Day, the widely-read PARADE magazine today posted on its website 10 portraits drawn from Carolyn Jones's The American Nurse, a coffee table book of portraits published in 2012. On the whole, the portraits and related interview text give a sense of the important, wide-ranging work of nursing. A few even briefly suggest how nurses use their skills to help patients, including an excellent portrait of a New Orleans family nurse practitioner who cares for mothers and babies, and good one in which an Appalachian hospice nurse describes his dream of opening a clinic and addressing the obesity epidemic. The images are diverse; they include two African-Americans, three men, and two advanced practice nurses, as well as nurses who work in a school, a prison, and an aircraft. All interview text includes the professional credentials of the nurses, including graduate degrees. And there is no suggestion that nurses exist to serve physicians. On the other hand, a lot of the text and portraits are infected with emotional "angel" imagery, vague about nursing, or not about nursing at all. Likewise, the introductory statement from Jones--that nurses are a "special breed" combining "innate compassion and learned behavior"--doesn't exactly tell the public anything new or helpful. We also do not learn here that nurses do anything on the cutting edge, or that they are engaged in research or innovation. And although some of the photos are powerful, as past photo collections featuring nurses have shown it's hard for still images to convey the most important thing most people need to learn about nurses--that they are life-saving professionals with advanced skills. We realize that the imagery and text that appears here primarily reflects decisions by Jones, not the nurses. In any case, we thank those responsible for the imagery and text that does advance public understanding of nursing. more...


Cunning, baffling, powerful

Nurse Jackie and Mike CruzApril 14, 2013 -- With the fifth season of Showtime's Nurse Jackie set to begin tonight, it's time to review the last season, which aired in spring 2012 and once again highlighted the central role nurses play in patient care. Most of the season focused on Jackie's recovery from her drug addiction and other personal issues. But when there were clinical scenes, the show continued to present Jackie, at least, as essentially a peer of the physicians. She was a clinical leader providing creative technical and psychosocial care. And in the last two episodes of the season, she actually took over the emergency department in the midst of a staffing crisis, running it expertly until the malevolent hospital CEO Mike Cruz fired her. The show also featured more credible, compelling interactions among nurses, and between nurses and physicians, showing that nurses are sentient three-dimensional beings. All of that is rare in Hollywood. Jackie's quirky mentee Zoey Barkow continued to show potential as a future version of Jackie--at several points Zoey showed the kind of clinical courage and initiative that Jackie does. There is still no really strong male nurse character, though nurses Thor and Sam do seem to have settled into their roles as competent, funny Jackie acolytes. On the downside, the show continued to struggle to portray nursing autonomy. There were several more suggestions that physicians control nurse staffing, and, after Cruz demoted nurse-manager Gloria Akalitus to staff nurse, the show proceeded without any apparent nurse managers at all. Still, on the whole, Nurse Jackie remains probably the best show for nursing in U.S. primetime television history. The executive producers of the show are Linda Wallem, Liz Brixius, Richie Jackson, and Caryn Mandabach. more...


Chapter Action Ideas

Place FREE Truth About Nursing posters at your school or workplace -- it's good fun and good for you!

I am your RN poster Tell colleagues and patients the truth! Our "I Am Your Registered Nurse" poster presents nurses as autonomous professionals on whom patients can rely. The poster explains that nurses are modern science professionals who protect and advocate for patients and empowers nurses to meet those challenges. Designed for the bedside, the poster comforts patients by educating them about the care environment and assuring them that nurses are there to fend for them.

Short dresses posterOr consider the Truth's "Can Short Dresses Cause Short Staffing?" poster. This one takes humorous aim at the naughty nurse image that continues to haunt advertisements and other media, especially those aimed at males. The poster connects the naughty nurse image with the broader undervaluation that leads to gross underfunding of nursing education, research, and practice, ultimately threatening patients.

We'll send you up to 20 posters free to hang at your school or workplace. Just email us at to tell us how many you'd like and where to send them. If you'd like more, they are just 50 cents each! Thank you!


Megan LeClairTeach medical students about the value of nursing

June 2012 -- Megan LeClair, RN, BSN, of the University of Wisconsin's Trauma and Life Support Center, recently performed a study based on a program from Dartmouth University in which medical students follow nurses at work to learn about the life-saving skills that nurses have. Her study was effective and we urge you to design your own! See the original Dartmouth program designed and led by Ellen Ceppetelli, RN, PhD. See Megan's abstract and results.


Elizabeth Winslow, RN, PhD, FAANEncourage nurses who speak publicly to identify themselves as nurses!

August 2012 -- Elizabeth Winslow, RN, PhD, FAAN, wrote a great opinion piece in the August issue of the American Journal of Nursing entitled "We Silence Our Profession When We Fail to Identify Ourselves as Nurses." Winslow encourages nurses who speak publicly to weave into the message that the speaker is a nurse. We are reminded of a similarly great piece, "Pick Up That RN Flag and Wave It" by Pam Meredith, RN, NP, which appeared in Nursing Spectrum in December 2002. Get up, stand up, nurses!


Nursing: Isn't that Sweet?!

The new Truth movie has everything...Sexual content! Raw insults! And odd, computer-generated voices! Watch now!

Wendy and JimCheck out the Truth's movie "Nursing: Isn't That Sweet?!" It's all about what happens when nurse Wendy encounters her old high school classmate Jim at a restaurant, many years later--after the two have taken their lives in very different directions! Can Wendy and Jim make a new connection? Or will things get a little ugly? Made using xtranormal software for Halloween 2011, the short video explores some chilling stereotypes that still infect public understanding of nursing. And for a different take on nursing stereotypes, check out the Truth's classic 2005 report "Nursing: Who Knew?" about a groundbreaking study in which leading researchers discover nurses' real contributions for the first time! See the video! Or if you can't access YouTube at your workplace, click here to see the video on our site. Thank you!


New Truth About Nursing FAQ:

Money differences between medicine and nursingJust how undervalued and underfunded is nursing?

In our new FAQ, we explore a few dramatic comparisons that illustrate how poorly nursing is valued and funded relative to medicine and other professions. See the comparisons...


See more news and media analysis on our archives pages:













2001 and prior

You can also search the contents of our site here


More sitemap of The Truth About Nursing

Take Action


Media Reviews

Television shows




VIdLit (Video Literature)


Press Room

Truth About Nursing Awards

Press Coverage

Press Releases

Pioneers of Nursing

Story Ideas

Nurse-Created Media

Script for a nurse-centered television drama

HealthStyles radio show with Diana Mason and Barbara Glickstein

FAQs / Positions

Nurse-Friendly Language


Beatrice and Philip Kalisch archives on media images of nurses

About Us


Board of Directors

Advisory Panel

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Abstract

Mission Statement


Contact Us

Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk


Advance Praise




Our donors and members

Member gifts


Media, products and merchandise that raises public awareness of the value of nursing

Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk


Angels in America

RN Patches

News Alerts

Sign up for free news alerts

News Alerts Archive


In our imperfect state of conscience and enlightenment, publicity and the collision resulting from publicity are the best guardians of the interest of the sick.

-- Florence Nightingale




| More