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News on Nurses in the Media
July-September 2004 Archives


"Time for my sponge bath"

September 30, 2004 -- An article by Chris Johnson in today's Vancouver Sun, "Union 'deeply offended' by sexy-nurse TV ad; Radio station pulls promo after BCNU complains it sends 'the wrong message,'" described a successful campaign by a British Columbia nurses union to protest a stereotypical "naughty nurse" TV ad promoting a local radio station. The story is notable not only because the nurses got an unusually sensitive response from the radio station (especially for the broadcast media), but for the many opposing reader messages that accompany the story's online posting, which provide valuable insight into some of the roots of nursing's media problems and the challenge of resolving them. We congratulate the BCNU for spearheading this campaign and pursuing it until the damaging images were gone. more...


Jeopardy update--Senior Producer responds

September 29, 2004 -- In response to the Center's campaign asking Jeopardy! to apologize to the nursing profession for implying that Nurse Practitioners do nothing more than tend to minor ailments, the show's Senior Producer/Head Writer responded promptly in a constructive letter to Truth executive director Sandy Summers. Jeopardy! is an unusually influential show which has been syndicated for 20 years and is seen by an estimated 12 million viewers daily. We applaud the show for acknowledging our concerns and initiating a plan to remedy the damage done. more...


Second update on Vogue plastic surgery campaign--Center's letter to be printed in November issue!

September 24, 2004 -- Soon after Vogue told the Center that it would not print any of the 300+ letters nurses wrote objecting to a plastic surgeon's unfounded comment that nurse anesthetists are "unsafe," the magazine reversed course. A Vogue editorial assistant told the Center that the magazine will print part of the Center's letter in its November issue, along with an editor's note. It is not clear what the note will say, but we hope that Vogue will refer to the clinical research showing that care delivered by nurse anesthetists is at least as good as that provided by anesthesiologists. Of course, the Center's letter also does this. The editorial assistant also said that she would ask Vogue's health editor to contact the Center as a resource for nursing experts. So please add your names to our nurse expert database and your story ideas to our story-idea database. more...


8 Simple Rules for Portraying Nurses in Your Hollywood Sitcom

September 24, 2004 -- The September 3, 2004 rebroadcast of a May episode of ABC's sitcom "8 Simple Rules," written by Seth Kurland, reportedly included a scene in which hospital nurse Cate suggested that her work was basically about keeping patients from wetting the bed, rather than keeping them alive, as she had at first maintained. Reports also indicate that in tonight's third season premiere, Cate will be offered a nursing position at her children's school. This will likely result in portrayals of a key nursing field that is now under severe strain because of cutbacks and ever-increasing responsibilities. Recent research indicates that even sitcoms affect people's views of health care, and "8 Simple Rules" reportedly averaged about 10 million viewers per week last year. more...


The Handmaid's Tales

September 23, 2004 -- The new seasons of NBC's "ER" and "Scrubs" are getting underway, with "ER"'s 11th season premiere airing tonight. These two popular network shows, which typically present nurses as peripheral subordinates to the physicians who dominate them, are probably the most influential ongoing media depictions of nursing in the U.S. As recent public health research has shown, such mass media products have a real impact on how the public thinks and acts as to important health care matters. The Center's review of "ER"'s 2003-04 season--an unprecedented one for nursing--has just been posted, as have updated series reviews for both "ER" and "Scrubs." Assuming "ER"'s new season does not show us a radical turnaround, the Center will soon unveil an important new initiative in its ongoing campaign to persuade the show to present a more accurate vision of nursing. Stay tuned! See our "ER" and "Scrubs" reviews.


"'No Angels' Set to Nurse U.S. Viewers"

September 21, 2004 -- A Hollywood Reporter/Reuters article today reported that the "edgy" U.K. nurse show "No Angels" is "up for translation into a Stateside version under Ben Silverman's Universal-based Reveille banner," with Amy Heckerling as an executive producer. If produced, it will be the first nurse-focused U.S. TV drama in over a decade. Many British nurses have found that Channel 4's "No Angels," while debunking the angel myth, has fostered other harmful misimpressions of nursing, including that nurses are underworked, gossiping party twits more interested in sexual contacts with physicians than in caring for their patients. Though we are confident that the industry that produced a classic like "Nightingales" would have no interest in that kind of degrading scenario, we will be sharing with the producers our views on how the new show might provide irreverent fun but avoid reinforcing naughty nurse and handmaiden stereotypes. more...


Nursing that pesky Y chromosome

September 18, 2004 -- An article by Colleen Kenney in today's Lincoln Journal Star, "Hunky nurses pose for pin-up calendar," reports that 12 men who are nurses appear in a new 2005 calendar published by the Nebraska Hospital Association in order "to help get more men into nursing and to show it's a job for a regular guy." The piece is a very positive, generally fair look at one effort to help men get over it and join one of the world's great professions. more...


Florence is a punk rocker

September 17, 2004 -- A new 15-second television ad by Emerald Nuts shows two "nurses" at a hospital work station eating nuts as they shake frenetically to a thrashing punk/alternative instrumental soundtrack and an announcer intones: "Extreme Nurses Love Emerald Nuts." We understand that some nurses have found this depiction to be degrading. We don't see that it's particularly harmful to nursing, but do provide contact information below for those who wish to express their views to the company. more...


New fall TV season seems to reinforce physician-centric vision of health care, largely ignoring nurses

September 15, 2004 -- New television shows premiering this fall, including NBC's "Medical Investigation," Fox's "House M.D.," Discovery Health Channel's "The Critical Hour," and CBS' "Dr. Vegas," appear set to continue and expand the dominant medium's prevailing vision of physicians as the heroic directors and providers of virtually all meaningful health care. With the possible limited exception of "Dr. Vegas," initial viewings and available reports suggest that these shows, like their predecessors in recent years, will marginalize or ignore the critical work of nurses. And though each TV season seems to bring several new physician shows, it's been many years since Hollywood has produced any show focusing on the work of nurses. more...


Update on campaign about surgeon Patrick Abergel's assertion in Vogue that the use of nurse anesthetists for plastic surgery is "unsafe"

September 15, 2004 -- In June, Vogue told the Center that some of the 300+ letters our readers sent about Dr. Abergel's comment would likely be published in the September 2004 letters column. September's Vogue however, contained no letters, nor any mention of Dr. Abergel's unfounded assertion. A Vogue representative, Phyllis Rifield, recently told us that Vogue will not be publishing any letters on the issue, noting that Vogue "does not carry on discussions on [its] letters pages as they do in some magazines." Ms. Rifield also said that she didn't "think that anybody really saw it anyway," despite the fact that Vogue's readership tops 1.2 million. more...


NPR piece on Clinton and cardiac rehabilitation includes nurse expert commentary

September 10, 2004 -- Today NPR aired a good piece by Patricia Neighmond about the type of cardiac rehabilitation former President Bill Clinton is likely to undergo following his recent quadruple bypass surgery. The report includes significant expert comment from UCLA cardiac rehab nurse Veronica Polverari, and generally treats nursing with an unusual level of respect. more...


Who are nurse practitioners?

September 7, 2004 -- Tonight the popular television quiz show "Jeopardy!" implied that Nurse Practitioners treat only "minor ailments," rather than the critical illnesses and complex procedures that many handle every day. In fact, a growing body of research shows that NP care is at least good as that of physicians. The common media stereotype of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN's) as minimally trained sub-professionals must end if we are to improve nursing's image and strengthen the profession. We need your help. more...


Reader's Digest highlights nursing knowledge

September 2004 -- A half-page item in this month's Reader's Digest, Cynthia Dermody's "Nurse Your Health," provides several pieces of practical health advice from Pat Carroll, RN, author of the very good new book What Nurses Know and Doctors Don't Have Time to Tell You. more...


The sting in the tail

August 27, 2004 -- Today the Guardian (U.K.) ran an analysis piece by its social affairs editor John Carvel about the ongoing debate over the issue of the U.K.'s "poaching" of nurses from developing world nations. Carvel's piece recounts some of the history of the issue there, as well as the current state of debate, but he closes by suggesting that the story's final "sting in the tail" may be that though Britain has been the most powerful player in "the poaching game" to date, the U.S. is poised to assume that role--not only as to "overseas" nurses, but "British" ones as well. more...


AP: "Faculty Shortage Plagues Nursing Schools"

August 25, 2004 -- On this date a good AP story by Linda Johnson, "Faculty Shortage Plagues Nursing Schools," was widely carried in newspapers nationwide, and a number of papers had their reporters add local information to the story before running it. The critical faculty shortage rarely receives such in-depth attention, and we salute Ms. Johnson, the AP, and the papers that ran the story for their work. more...


No one dies alone

August 25, 2004 -- Today Wong Sher Maine's piece in the Straits Times (Singapore), "At Alexandra, someone is with you till the end," describes a new program at a local hospital through which staff volunteer to be with terminal patients who receive no other visitors. The piece notes that the program, which appears to be primarily the work of the hospital's nurses, was inspired by a similar program started some years ago by a nurse in the United States. more...


At least they've avoided that angel stereotype: Asian nurses confront racist abuse and views that their profession is "on a par with prostitution"

August 24, 2004 -- Today the Times (U.K.) ran a short unsigned piece reporting that although the British government is spending millions of pounds to increase the number of nurses and physicians who are ethnic minorities in the National Health Service, Asian nurses there face negative cultural and racial attitudes. more...


One man and 247 women

August 21, 2004 -- Today the Star (Malaysia) ran Olivia Lee's helpful "Francise proud to make nursing his profession," an article about the lone male diploma recipient at the graduation ceremony of Puteri Nursing College in Kuala Lumpur. Francise Maria Pillai said it was challenging to be the only male student among 247 females, but said that his classmates were supportive. more...


USA Today: "Professionals sick of old routine find healthy rewards in nursing"

August 17, 2004 -- Today USA Today ran a lengthy story by Julie Appleby on the first page of its "Money" section about the increasing number of persons choosing nursing as a second career. The story is a generally fair example of the "nursing shortage creates great opportunity" genre. However, the vision it offers of a difficult but high-paying, flexible and rewarding job, with no specific discussion of what nurses actually do, arguably understates both nursing's real importance and the critical problems that remain, especially short-staffing. more...


Skechers pulls Christina Aguilera "nurse" ad after receiving more than 3,000 letters from nursing supporters

August 17, 2004 -- In response to widespread protests sparked by the Center's campaign over the last two weeks, Skechers will discontinue the Christina Aguilera "naughty nurse" ad that had begun to run in markets worldwide, according to a statement released by Jennifer Clay, a public relations official at Skechers' Los Angeles headquarters. In a letter read to the Center over the telephone, Skechers stated that it has "discontinued [its] international ad buys." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Virginia Linn described this result as the Center's "latest success" in a good article about the Skechers campaign published today in the paper's health section. However, because of the lead time required for much print press advertising, we expect that the ads may still run in some publications in the next month or two. In addition, because of the different media in which the ads were apparently slated to appear (such as point of sale retail locations), we are working to get clarification on exactly what has been discontinued. more...


The first thing we do, let's send all the lawyers to nursing school

August 4, 2004 -- Today the Straits Times (Singapore) included a generally good article by Lynn Lee, "Vasanthi quits law to become a nurse," about a former public prosecutor who has "traded her black lawyer's garb for nursing whites," enrolling in a special two-year diploma programme launched by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) that is currently training about 200 mid-career professionals like her to become nurses. more...


Inject me: Skechers tries on the stereotypes with Christina Aguilera as "naughty and nice" "nurse"

August 2004 -- In the coming months, shoemaker Skechers reportedly plans to run a global ad campaign called "Naughty and Nice," featuring Christina Aguilera, as part of a long term marketing deal with the pop music star. Ms. Aguilera will be featured in three different ads: as a police officer confronting a woman bending over a car, as a schoolteacher confronting a student sitting at her desk, and as a nurse confronting a patient sitting on a hospital bed. In each photo, Aguilera plays both figures, and there is a strong element of sado-masochism, with the authority figures as the dominants. All figures are dressed and posed in sexually suggestive ways, often with exposed bras and/or short shorts. In each case the dominant wields a symbol of her physical authority in a threatening, if goofy, way: the teacher holds a ruler, the cop some handcuffs, and the nurse is about to inject a patient with something that looks like a huge 100 cc metal syringe connected to an 8 gauge needle. The submissives seem to wear expressions of mock alarm. Although the Christinas are apparently all wearing Skechers, on the blackboard behind the teacher someone has written many times: "Skechers Are Not Part of the Uniform." This campaign will reportedly be run in pop culture and teen magazines and placed in retail stores around the world, and it has already received significant coverage in the business and advertising press. more...


New Attitude

July 28, 2004 -- White uniforms are making a comeback in some Atlanta hospitals, reports Patricia Guthrie in a generally fair article in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to the article, Rhonda Scott, PhD, RN, CS, spearheaded the change at both the Grady Health System and the South Fulton Medical Center in Atlanta. more...


Health care workers without borders

July 26, 2004 -- Carol Goar's column in today's Toronto Star, "Miracles amid misery in Sudan," recounts the recent experience of Toronto nurse Nancy Dale as part of a Medicines Sans Frontieres team in Darfur, where government-backed militias have reportedly "slaughtered an estimated 30,000 men and raped and brutalized their wives and children," driving more than one million from their homes and creating a staggering humanitarian crisis. The powerful column illustrates the work nurses do as part of health care teams on humanitarian missions in ravaged nations, missions that the media and even the aid community itself too often suggests are entirely the work of a certain other group of health care professionals. more...


Quick Clinic NPs: Neos in the Health Care Matrix?

July 18, 2004 -- Today the New York Times business section ran a substantial piece by Michelle Andrews about the growth of nurse practitioner-staffed "quick clinics" that operate in large retailers and provide faster, cheaper preventative care and treatment for a range of common illnesses. The article, "Next to the Express Checkout, Express Medical Care," provides a basically fair description of the work of the clinics, but many elements are likely to leave readers with inaccurate and damaging impressions about nurse practitioners. more...


Pennzoil pulls its nurse ad in response to outpouring of letters from nurses

Pennzoil nurse adJuly 15, 2004 -- In response to many nurses seeking an end to Pennzoil's ads featuring a nurse, Pennzoil has announced that it will pull all remaining advertisements possible that were slated to appear in a number of US magazines over the coming months. The ad, featured at right, feeds into regressive angelic and arguably "naughty nurse" stereotypes that are harmful to the profession. more...


Take Action!
Something in the bottled water? Another prominent Hollywood plastic surgeon tells major media that nurse anesthetists are unsafe

July 13, 2004 -- Hot on the heels of the June Vogue's quotation of a Santa Monica plastic surgeon as saying that the use of nurse anesthetists is unsafe, Dr. Robert Kotler of Beverly Hills bluntly stated on the July 13 "Deborah Norville Tonight" show (MSNBC) that plastic surgery consumers should not use nurse anesthetists. In fact, research has shown that care of nurse anesthetists is at least as good as that of anesthesiologists. MSNBC's broadcast of Dr. Kotler's scientifically unfounded assertions without any response from a nurse anesthetist is irresponsible. more...


Weak Nursing

July 2004 -- Lifetime's "Strong Medicine" is a cable drama with two goals: to explore the lives and achievements of female physicians, and to promote understanding of women's health. Sadly, the show's good intentions can't redeem its often ham-handed plotting, dialogue and direction. Its overall portrayal of nursing is fairly poor. It has a very positive nurse character in alterna-hunk Peter Riggs, a nurse-midwife who displays knowledge and some autonomy. But even his appearances are undermined, and finally outweighed, by the show's vision of physicians as the masters of all health care. Nurses--when they appear at all--are almost always faceless servants, silent and submissive. more...


Summer Nurse Camp

July 13, 2004 -- A brief staff item in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Future nurses get a career close-up at camp," describes a new summer camp in the Puget Sound area at which 30 interested high school students spend a week at local hospitals learning what nursing is really about. The teenagers' views on nursing are, unsurprisingly, pretty heavy on the emotional support aspects, but they also show that some students see the profession as one involving knowledge and skill. We thank the Post-Intelligencer for publicizing this potentially useful idea. more...


Unbearable

July 12, 2004 -- Today the New York Times ran Celia W. Dugger's "An Exodus of African Nurses Puts Infants and the Ill in Peril," an unusually powerful and comprehensive look at the catastrophic effects of the emigration of Malawian nurses to developing world nations with nursing shortages. Dugger outlines the staggering overall depletion of health resources in the AIDS-ravaged nation, where more registered nurses have left to work abroad in the last four years than remain in the public hospitals and clinics that serve most of the country, and where almost two thirds of the public health system's nursing jobs are vacant. But her special focus is the labor and delivery ward at the capital's Lilongwe Central Hospital, where 10 overwhelmed nurse midwives now attempt to deliver more than 10,000 babies a year--with the apparent result that many births are attended by no one. more...


US News "Best Hospitals 2004" accounts for nursing magnet status

July 12, 2004 -- U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of the "best hospitals" now incorporate whether a hospital has achieved nursing "magnet status," as well as its nurse-to-patient ratios. The inclusion of magnet status is a significant step forward. Of course, the role of nursing is still undervalued in these rankings, since these two factors are only small parts of the "other care-related factors" category, which itself counts for just one third of the total ranking in each of the 17 specialties the magazine assesses. The other two thirds consist of physician opinion and mortality data. Nursing opinion is not a factor. more...


Nation's elite honors 13 "medical heroes;" heroic nurses' invitations lost in mail?

July 8, 2004 -- Tonight's two-hour television special, "Discovery Health Channel Medical Honors," hosted by Regis Philbin and featuring Tommy Thompson and C. Everett Koop, salutes 13 "medical heroes" for "bringing awareness to many challenging health and medical issues of our time." Of the 13 honorees, there seem to be eight physicians, a biosciences researcher, a non-profit leader, a political science professor, a health system CEO, and an advertising executive. Not a single one of the nation's 2.7 million nurses made the cut, but at least nurses are represented--by the talented actress Yvette Freeman, who plays nurse Haleh Adams on NBC's physician-centric "ER," and who reportedly appears at the ceremony as a presenter. The show airs at 8 pm ET/PT. more...


Boston Globe: "Study links long hours, nurse errors"

July 7, 2004 -- Today the Boston Globe published a generally good story by Liz Kowalczyk about a new nursing fatigue study by University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing researchers. The study, which was published in Health Affairs, indicated that nurses working shifts of 12.5 hours or more were three times more likely to make mistakes than nurses on shifts of less than 8.5 hours. The study's lead author was sleep and fatigue expert Ann Rogers, R.N., Ph.D, FAAN. more...


You've come a long way, nurse's baby

July 5, 2004 -- Anti-feminist Caitlin Flanagan's "To Hell with All That," in this week's New Yorker, presents the author's mother's decision to return to her nursing career when the author was 12 years old as an early example of the often-wrenching career vs. home dilemma mothers like Flanagan herself face today. Unfortunately, while the piece shows a general appreciation for what Flanagan's mother's work meant to her--including a striking photo of her in her 1940's nursing uniform--it also seems to reflect the usual successful elite female's lack of understanding or respect for nursing as a profession. more...


Nurse Jewel shows B.D. the tough love

July 3, 2004 -- Garry Trudeau's widely distributed comic strip "Doonesbury" has introduced another positive nurse character, the tough Walter Reed nurse Jewel, who is now caring for Lt. B.D. following the loss of part of his leg in the Iraq war. more...


Certified Nurse-Mother

July 2004 -- One of the two main winners of Good Housekeeping's Award for Women in Government is Jill Alliman, RN, MSN, CNM, a Tennessee nurse-midwife who, as explained in this month's issue, directs a rural maternity center that has vastly improved the health of poor Appalachian women and their children for two decades. Unfortunately, Margaret Magnarelli's piece on Ms. Alliman, "Midwife on a Mission," undermines the magazine's admirable choice by virtually ignoring nursing and instead offers maternal and angel stereotypes to describe the maternity center's very real substantive achievements. more...



Nursing Woman

July 2004 -- The "Everyday Heroes" department in this month's Reader's Digest features Lynn Rosellini's "Medicine Woman," a generally good profile of rural nurse practitioner and Penn State nursing professor Mona Counts, RN, PhD, CRNP, FNAP, FAANP. Despite a few physician-centric elements and a failure to note Dr. Counts' academic and professional stature, the piece effectively underlines the value of nurse practitioners' willingness to listen and speak plainly to their patients, and to endure the financial stress of practicing in poor, underserved areas of the nation. more...


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