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April - June 2004 Archives

 

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The "July syndrome:" who's minding the interns?

June 29, 2004 -- In today's "Their Coats Are White, but Their Hands Are Green," a New York Times "Cases" piece, Richard A. Friedman, M.D., discusses the popular notion that July is a perilous time to visit U.S. hospitals because of the influx of recent medical school graduates (interns) with little clinical experience. He admits that such fears are rational, but argues that there is little scientific basis to believe care actually suffers, and concludes that this is so because of "vigilant supervision" by attending physicians like himself. Dr. Friedman, in whose piece the word "nurse" does not appear, evidently does not realize that a great deal of the "vigilance" protecting patients from interns is supplied by nurses. more...

"Recruiters Head South of the Border for Nurses"

June 27, 2004 -- A generally good AP story by Morgan Lee, which appeared today in the Los Angeles Times, reports that U.S. hospital recruiters are starting to seek nurses from Mexico. It explores many of the potential positive and negative aspects of the global migration of developing world nurses to wealthier nations with critical nursing shortages. Its use of quotes from a Mexican nurse, Mexican nursing professors, and representatives of the American Nurses Association and the International Council of Nurses is unusual and commendable. more...

Wholehearted and clinically smart

June 25, 2004 -- The cover story of this month's Kauai (Hawaii) Island News is Anne E. O'Malley's profile of Hob Osterlund, RN, MS, CHTP, a Hawaii pain management consultant whose comic alter ego, Ivy Push, RN, does "sit-down comedy in pidgin." The article says that Ivy Push's "chief focus is entertaining you, but she also makes nurses visible by bringing attention to the awesome tasks they do." more...

"I can't even say I made my own mistakes. Really--one has to ask oneself--what dignity is there in that?"

-- Stevens the butler, The Remains of the Day (1989), Kazuo Ishiguro

June 20, 2004 -- Three recent New York Times pieces reinforce the false impression that physicians bear the primary responsibility for modern health care and for any significant problem in care delivery. They are Bob Herbert's June 18 op-ed "Not So Frivolous," M. Gregg Bloche's June 10 op-ed "After Abu Ghraib; Physician, Turn Thyself In," and today's article "Why Did They Die in Cosmetic Surgery?" by Alex Kuczinski and Warren St. John. While such pieces may seem unfair to physicians, they also perpetuate widespread misconceptions that nurses are marginal players who report to physicians, and obscure the fact that nursing is an autonomous profession with its own sphere of practice and its own legal and ethical duties. more...

Nursing the Future: U.K. image campaign underway as poll finds public does not understand nursing, harmful stereotypes "alive and well"

June 16, 2004 -- An unsigned piece published today in the Edinburgh Evening News (Scotland), "Nurturing a better image for nurses," describes a new campaign to improve the image of nursing in the U.K., following a nationwide survey indicating that much of the public does not understand the varied responsibilities of modern nursing and does not believe nurses have the high status of physicians. Interviews with schoolchildren reportedly showed that "stereotypical views of nursing are alive and well" and that "low wages and stress" deter young people from choosing the profession. more...

"You're the only thing between [your] patients and death, and you're covered in cartoons"

June 2004 -- In "Nursing Image = Nursing Power," a provocative and constructive piece published in this month's issue of the Sacramento Bee's "Real Life Healthcare" magazine, Virginia gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond argues that nurses could empower their profession by ditching the "cartoon jackets" and working toward uniforms that would project "a powerful classy new image to reflect the nurses of today." more...

Take Action!
Those nurses sure get your motor runnin'

Pennzoil nurse adJune 2004 -- This month's Travel and Leisure magazine includes a full page ad for Pennzoil (p. 97) featuring a wispy young female model in a way outdated, slightly suggestive white nurse's dress, feeding a tablespoon of motor oil to a needy older engine and gazing at the engine in a way that could be devotional and/or affectionate. While we've seen much worse, this ad's delicate, regressive vision of nursing plays into angelic and arguably "naughty nurse" stereotypes that do the profession no favors. more...

Does nursing exist? No easy answer for New York Times article

June 10, 2004 -- "Should Doctors Help With Executions? No Easy Ethical Answer," a lengthy article by Adam Liptak in today's New York Times, discusses health care practitioner participation in U.S. executions. It includes numerous descriptions of the conduct, opinions, and ethical responsibilities of named physicians, but only one passing reference to a nurse (not named) who "spent 39 fruitless minutes stabbing needles" into a condemned former drug addict before a named physician inserted a central line that could carry the lethal injection. more...

Sonic Nurse

June 8, 2004 -- Today influential alternative band Sonic Youth released a compelling new album, "Sonic Nurse." The CD package art consists of five full size images of pop artist Richard Prince's nurse paintings, including "Dude Ranch Nurse" and "New England Nurse," as well as a Prince photo of the band standing in front of two more. Prince's nurse paintings show pulp novel images of nurses in white paint-blob masks and surround them with bold, often threatening color. Nurses who had problems with Prince's ironic paintings may have some of the same concerns with this record, though the band's use of retro nurse imagery may be more thoughtful. more...

In art-imitates-life shocker, NBC's "ER" follows example of nearby real-life hospital, naming nurse as emergency services director

June 7, 2004 -- A short item in the business section of today's News Press, a Southern California paper affiliated with the Los Angeles Times, reported that nurse Debra Brown had been named emergency services director of North Glendale's Verdugo Hills Hospital. In what appeared to be an astonishing coincidence, a nurse character is elevated to the same position on tonight's special episode of NBC's popular television show "ER"--which is filmed in nearby Burbank. more...

What nurses know and you need to learn

June 2004 -- The cover of Pat Carroll's valuable, engaging new book What Nurses Know And Doctors Don't Have Time to Tell You summarizes its contents as follows: "Practical Wisdom for Everyday Home Health Care." That is exactly what she delivers. The book deftly promotes public understanding of personal health care and nursing, advancing a nurse-oriented vision of basic health that is pragmatic, reasonable and preventative. It is marred only by a somewhat limited focus and that amazing title, which manages to both celebrate and denigrate nurses in 10 short words. more...

Take Action!
Prominent Hollywood plastic surgeon tells Vogue readers that use of nurse anesthetists is "unsafe"

June 2004 -- In Ariel Levy's "Shopping for surgery," an article in this month's Vogue about how to find "safety and success" in aesthetic plastic surgery, Santa Monica surgeon R. Patrick Abergel is quoted as saying that the use of nurse anesthetists for plastic surgery is "unsafe." In fact, research has shown that care of nurse anesthetists is at least as good as that of anesthesiologists. Vogue's publication of Abergel's scientifically unfounded assertion without any response from a nurse anesthetist is irresponsible. more...

Chance the Good

May 29, 2004 -- Starting on May 21 and continuing through today, Garry Trudeau's influential and widely syndicated comic strip "Doonesbury" has featured a positive, nuanced nurse character, Lieutenant Chance Lebon, caring for character B.D., who has been seriously wounded in the Iraq war. more...

O.C. nurse speaks out on teen "drug rapes"

May 27, 2004 -- In a letter to the editor published in today's Los Angeles Times, Orange County registered nurse Susan Wong gave a powerful account of the victims of "drug rapes" she has seen in her work in outpatient care. Her letter, written in response to the paper's coverage of a local gang rape trial, is a good example of patient advocacy that also advances the nursing profession by showing that nurses are responsible professionals who can think and speak out on behalf of their patients and the public good. more...

Take Action!
Jessica Rabbit letters rain down on Disney--pin sale ends

May 27, 2004 -- At least 300 nurses wrote to protest Disney's sultry Jessica Rabbit nurse pins, which were created to honor nurses during nurses' week 2004 and 2003. Within 48 hours of starting our campaign, Disney agreed to "remove the pin from sale." The 2004 pin had been available for purchase in Disney World shops and beyond since nurses' week in early May 2004. The Center applauds this prompt action, and thanks all of the campaign participants whose letters made it happen. We are also urging Disney to make amends, and we need your help. more...

The Swan, M.D.

May 13, 2004 -- Looks like our little Abby has finally made something of herself. On tonight's season finale of NBC's "ER," executive producer Dee Johnson's "Drive," nurse Abby Lockhart learns that she has passed her medical boards, finally achieving what she and the show itself have longed for. It was a fitting end to a season in which the show exhaustively chronicled the medical school experiences and future plans of Lockhart and colleague Neela Rasgotra, while (as it has for ten seasons) ignoring the professional development of nurses, with recent plotlines involving lone major nurse character Sam Taggart centering almost entirely on her personal life. more...

We don't disrespect nurses...we're just drawn that way

May 6-12, 2004 -- The Center has learned that a pin featuring Disney's Jessica Rabbit character, dressed as a "naughty nurse," has been marketed for National Nurses' Week 2004. Jessica, the sexy, sultry animated character who first appeared in the 1988 Disney classic "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", had a cameo as a nurse in the first of the three short films that followed, "Tummy Trouble" (1989), which was set largely in a hospital. Of course, the Jessica character perfectly embodies the still-potent naughty nurse stereotype, which contributes to the current nursing shortage that threatens lives worldwide. But what's a little surprising is that anyone would think a Jessica Rabbit nurse pin would be a good way to say "thank you" to the skilled, hard-working nurses--including men--who continue to fight short-staffing and other challenges to save patients' lives. more...

Reuters: "New Generation of Nurses 'Too Posh to Wash'"

May 10, 2004 -- The lead of a Reuters article dated today and written by Tristan Jones is disturbing: "A new generation of nurses who are 'too posh to wash' are threatening traditional nursing practices by refusing to perform basic tasks," according to a statement by Beverly Malone, the leader of the UK's Royal College of Nursing (RCN) at a recent conference. The piece identifies what seems to be a significant issue, but it does not provide the necessary balance or depth, particularly in failing to explain the real importance of many of these "basic tasks," during which skilled nurses perform vital assessments of their patients' conditions that can mean the difference between life and death. more...

The Times: "What am I bid for this nurse?"

May 4, 2004 -- Today the Times (U.K.) ran a very short, unsigned item about a proposal in a recent Department for International Development report on "international nurse recruitment" that the U.K. should "consider giving cash to developing countries to compensate for taking their nurses." The Times' headline (above) is catchy, if somewhat unfair to the developing nations--they haven't offered their nurses for sale, after all--and to nurses, who are economic actors, but not chattel. more...

Percentage of male nurses at Glendale Adventist Medical Center is twice the national average

May 3, 2004 -- Today the News-Press (Southern California newspaper) ran a short piece by Ryan Carter about the increase in male nurses at a local hospital with an unusually high number of them. Although the piece depends on the no longer novel idea that "men are coming from various fields to enter a profession experiencing shortages as demand for medical care increases," and it could have done more to explore other reasons men might enter nursing, it is a fair article about male nurses, who are often maligned or overlooked. more...

The Vanishing Nurse

March-April 2004 -- In a lengthy, very well done cover story in the March-April 2004 issue of Revolution entitled "How Hollywood Portrays Nurses," noted journalist Suzanne Gordon and Ruth Johnson, RN/CNM, analyze the depiction of nursing in a number of feature films released in the last few decades. They conclude that though major nurse characters over this period could be described as "The Good, the Bad and the Crazy," in recent years "[n]urses as viable film characters are disappearing from American movies as fast as, well, real nurses are disappearing from American bedsides." more...

Take Action!
NYU physician suggests the Charles Cullen killings were the result of widespread materialism and lack of compassion in nurse training and hiring. No, really.

April 30, 2004 -- In an op-ed piece published today in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Nursing compassion to health," NYU forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner argues that nurse Charles Cullen's patient killings were the result of the modern emphasis on "material" benefits in the training and hiring of hospital workers. To prevent such events in the future, health care facilities should "focus on hiring those with the most compassionate personalities." Leaving aside the spectacle of a physician who heads The Forensic Panel ("America's foremost forensic consulting institution") lecturing nurses about greed and compassion, Dr. Welner's piece shows little understanding of the life-saving professional skills required of modern nurses, or the effects of nurse short-staffing, inadequate resources, and systemic problems in end-of-life care on adverse results in clinical settings. more...

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Nurse practitioner clinic provides vital care to low-income patients

April 28, 2004 -- Today the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a very good article by Patricia Guthrie about local nurse practitioner Dorothy Gallaway and her Family Health Enterprise clinic, which has been serving low-income women and families for nearly 10 years. more...

Where have all the nurses gone?

April 27, 2004 -- A lengthy front-page article by Karl Vick in today's Washington Post, headlined "The Lasting Wounds of War: Roadside Bombs Have Devastated Troops and Doctors Who Treat Them," describes the recent explosion of horrific injuries to U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The article focuses on the psychological effects of the wounds on the physicians who treat them. One nurse appears very briefly in the text of the article, compared to five physicians, most of whom are quoted extensively on technical and emotional issues, creating the impression that hardly any nurses are involved in the care of the severely wounded, and that physicians are far more affected by the injuries than nurses, medics or other health care personnel. more...

Nurses flood Physicians Formula with letters protesting "nurse" ad; company immediately agrees to stop running it

April 26, 2004 -- At least 50 nurses wrote to protest Physicians Formula's cosmetics ad featuring a "naughty nurse" image within the first 24 hours of the Center's campaign against the ad (and more have written since). In response, the company promised to stop running the ad, which had appeared in recent issues of major magazines including the May issue of "Shape." The Center applauds this prompt action, and thanks all the campaign participants whose letters made it happen. We are also urging the company to make amends, and we need your help. Click here to read more...

 

Will & Grace: the nurse as twit, loser and porn actress

April 22, 2004 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "Will & Grace," entitled "Speechless" and written by Sally Bradford, focuses on the flighty Jack character's graduation from "nursing school." The episode's unholy mix of stereotypes adds up to a vision of nursing education as a fly-by-night joke leading to a second-rate job for white women and gay men who can't hack it in the entertainment industry. more...

Forty thicker, fuller lashes!

April 22, 2004 -- A full page ad for Physicians Formula's cosmetics in the May 2004 issue of Shape magazine features an attractive young "nurse" in classic naughty nurse attire, complete with revealing cleavage, short white dress and fishnet stockings, under the heading: "Beautiful Eyes: Just What the Doctor Ordered." The Center urges all nurses to protest this amazingly regressive, misogynous association of nursing with make-up and sex. more...

Does it take a village nurse?

April 18, 2004 -- The "Medicine 2004" feature in today's New York Times Magazine, which addresses some serious health care practice and financing issues at great length, is very focused on the training and current practices of physicians. But none of the six articles discusses nurses or nursing in any depth, and most fail to address nursing at all, even when it would be highly relevant to the specific subject matter at hand. Thus, on the whole, the feature reinforces the belief that the only health care workers who matter are physicians. more...

New federal nurse disciplinary controls proposed in wake of Cullen case

April 16, 2004 -- An unsigned AP article in today's New York Times reports that new federal legislation has been introduced to require the reporting of disciplinary actions against nurses, apparently in response to the alleged patient killings by hospital nurse Charles Cullen, whose troubled job history apparently did not prevent him from moving from job to job. The brief piece manages to raise more questions than it answers about the bill, perhaps in part because of the space it devotes to the specifics of Cullen's case. more...

Washington Post highlights work of Virginia cardiac care nurse

April 15, 2004 -- A lengthy article by Avis Thomas-Lester in today's Washington Post tells the story of a Maryland military intelligence analyst and the Virginia nurse and transplant coordinator who helped him through the lengthy process of heart transplantation. Overall the story gives a good sense of the important care nurses can provide in this context. more...

BBC: "Nurse prescribing to be extended"

April 14, 2004 -- According to a brief, unsigned BBC News Online report dated today, the British government has proposed adding 60 drugs to the list of 180 medications that "qualified nurses" can already prescribe, in order to better utilize the nurses' skills and improve patient access to emergency care. more...

Golden Years

April 13, 2004 -- A piece by Laura Novak, published today as part of the New York Times' "Voices" feature, includes the observations of five older persons who have recently chosen to become nurses after retiring from other jobs. Their stories are impressive and compelling, though the item's implicit association of nursing with retirement age volunteer work--as opposed to serious careers to which ambitious individuals might devote their entire working lives--is troubling. more...

Nurse week at the Guardian?

April 7, 2004 -- This week the Guardian (U.K.) ran at least three important articles dealing with nursing issues, including an article about the Royal College of Nursing governing council's decision to try to move the profession to an "all graduate" educational requirement, a piece about a survey of nurses indicating that nurse short-staffing plays a disturbing role in the rising number of hospital-acquired infections, and a hopeful story by a psychiatric nurse about mental health programs on which she has worked in genocide-ravaged Rwanda. more...

Undead

April 7, 2004 -- In their overhaul of "Dawn of the Dead," director Zack Snyder and screenwriter James Gunn may seem to have chucked most of the campy consumer satire of George Romero's 1978 zombie classic and emerged with a state-of-the-art but empty Hollywood gore-fest. Not quite. They've also created a darkly funny, nihilistic post-9/11 vision of radical fundamentalism overrunning bourgeois society. In the midst of the carnage, lead character Ana Clark (Sarah Polley), a smart, tough, resourceful nurse, helps to lead a small band of survivors trapped in a suburban mall and keep them human, literally and figuratively. more...

Disaster strikes British NHS: telephone advice nurses highly qualified

April 6, 2004 -- A brief unsigned item in today's Times (of London) reports that the National Health Service's new telephone health advice service, NHS Direct, has attracted very experienced nurses from NHS specialty areas with "severe skills shortages." But the piece also notes that the nurses' experience seems to add value to the advice service, and that the nurses might otherwise be lost to NHS completely. more...

"Nurse = nurse, not mini-doctor"

April 5, 2004 -- Today BBC News Online ran an interesting, if somewhat unclear, unsigned article about the growing number of English nurses who are being trained as "surgical practitioners" to perform a variety of surgical procedures, including vascular surgery, orthopedics, urology and gynecology. more...

The Great Work

April 4, 2004 -- Mike Nichols' "Angels in America," based on Tony Kushner's extraordinary play, includes one of the best depictions of nursing in feature film history. The six-hour movie is a dazzling exploration of faith, politics and sexuality in the United States soon after the start of the AIDS era. It features Nichols' assured, inventive direction and excellent work by Jeffrey Wright, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino and the other major actors, some taking multiple roles, as in the play. more...

Chicago Tribune: "Student health in new hands"

April 4, 2004 -- Today the Chicago Tribune ran a substantial article by James Janega about the apparent trend in some states toward the use of "school-based health centers" rather than traditional school nurses, particularly in disadvantaged urban areas. more...

 

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