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News on Nurses in the Media
July 2005 Archives


An A+ in Getting the Doctor

July 31, 2005 -- In the episode of HBO's "Six Feet Under" first aired tonight, Nancy Oliver's "Ecotone," the sudden illness of main character Nate takes his family and friends to a hospital, where they interact with nurses and physicians. These health workers are certainly not one-dimensional. But they do conform to the prevailing Hollywood belief that nurses are handmaidens, at times disagreeably petty ones, who assist the smart physicians who provide all important care. The episode suggests that when it comes to an understanding of nursing, dramatic sophistication doesn't count for much. more...


Power, justice, and little white pieces of paper

July 30, 2005 -- Today the Savannah Morning News posted a story about a local primary care physician now serving an eight month sentence in federal prison, apparently in part for signing blank Schedule II substance prescription refills for nurse practitioner (NP) colleagues to use. Such NP prescription is reportedly unlawful in Georgia but in no other U.S. state. Don Lowery's "A doctor's 'conviction' violates the law" reports that Jack Heneisen wrote the prescriptions so that he and the NPs with whom he practiced at a rural Effingham County clinic could handle their huge patient load. Most of the lengthy piece is a fair discussion of the debate between those who favor greater NP autonomy because of its public health benefits, and physicians who claim that the NPs must be under physician control because they lack sufficient training. more...


AP: "Nurses Care for the Niger's Malnourished"

July 29, 2005 -- Today the Guardian (U.K.) site posted a powerful AP story by Nafi Diouf about efforts by Doctors Without Borders and the U.N. to cope with the devastating famine in Niger, where almost a third of the population is "in crisis." The Doctors Without Borders mobile health team profiled in the piece is led by a nurse, and is composed of nine nurses, eight nutritional assistants, and two drivers. more...


"Helen Wheels, R.N." -- CompuCaddy pulls battleaxe ad

July 25, 2005 -- Diversified Designs has pulled a print ad for CompuCaddy computer stands that showed an unhinged nurse--"Helen Wheels"--who was furious because the prior shift had left the computer battery uncharged. The Kentucky company acted after several nurses pointed out that the ads, run for six months in health industry magazines, exploited the regressive "battleaxe" stereotype. In a telephone call with the Center today, Diversified Designs president Greg Likins profusely apologized to nurses for the negative effect the ad had on nursing's image. He also noted that a follow up ad featuring a happy "Helen Wheels" with a fully charged CompuCaddy will also be pulled. The angry ad appeared in magazines for six months, yet the company agreed to pull it after receiving only the third letter of protest. This shows the importance of acting quickly and collectively to improve negative images of nursing, including by alerting the Center to poor images. more...


Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day

July 25, 2005 -- In response to a Center for Nursing Advocacy campaign begun in late 2004, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has changed the name of its annual "Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day" campaign to "Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day." Nurses had argued that, since over 100,000 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses provide high quality primary care to the very minority populations the campaign targets, a name change to reflect that would enhance the campaign's effect on those populations, and at the same time address the image problem that is a key factor in the nursing shortage. The Center salutes HHS--especially Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Garth Graham, MD, MPH, and the Office of Minority Health--for its responsiveness, flexibility, and concern for public health. Take a Loved One for a Check Up Day is September 20, 2005. more...


Black ribbons

July 22, 2005 -- Today the Lucknow Newsline posted an unsigned Express News Service piece about the effects of a brief nurses' strike in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The story is notable for the apparent desperation of the nurses to have their demands considered, and for its account of what happens when nurses are absent, which suggests something of what nurses normally do for patients. more...


That Not-Obscure-Enough Object of Desire

July 20, 2005 -- Today Reuters ran a brief unsigned item reporting that the Spanish nursing council was protesting the use of "50 mini-skirted models" dressed as nurses at a stock market share launch by cosmetic surgery firm Corporacion Dermoestetica. There is no indication of whether any models appeared at the share launch dressed as cosmetic surgery firm executives. The piece suggests, as did a similar ad campaign launch by Virgin Mobile Canada in March, that the harmful "naughty nurse" image remains a mainstream advertising staple throughout the developed world. more...


Take Action!
Telling doctors what they ought to try

July 18, 2005 -- As a result of a Center campaign started July 8, over 500 nurses, physicians and others from Canada, the United States and beyond have written to protest the "Nurses' Song" sung by some University of Alberta medical students at their recent "MedShow," an irreverent annual event. Lyrics called nurses "whores" and "bitches" whose "incompetence" and persistence in "telling doctors what they ought to try" threatened to "make our patients die." On July 14, the Edmonton Journal ran a fairly detailed piece on the Center's campaign. In response to the campaign, university officials again expressed regret about the show, and stated that the students responsible do not really hold the views stated in the lyrics. In addition, the University's Medical Students Association has issued a commendable apology to nurses. The University and many students have argued that given the self-mocking context and the extreme nature of the stereotypes involved, the students felt the song would be understood as a "parody," not an endorsement, of the views expressed. But because the context was ambiguous and the lyrics are a mix of toxic views that many physicians and members of the public actually do hold, the Center finds it more plausible that the song was intended as a comic "roast," as other medical students have argued. Even if intended as a parody, the song's reckless presentation of views that are driving the global nursing shortage in a "comic" context suggests a dangerous lack of understanding of nursing. The Center continues to urge the university to discipline the individual students responsible, and to establish a permanent program to ensure that future medical students understand the vital role nurses play and how physicians can avoid contributing to the nursing crisis and poor patient care. See our full analysis here and please join our letter-writing campaign.


Kids with guns

July 17, 2005 -- Today the Miami Herald published a fairly good piece by John Dorschner about recent efforts to deal with the continuing problem of abusive physicians. The article, "Nurses and staff stand up against uncivil doctors," suggests that social changes, liability concerns and the nursing shortage are helping nurses address the issue. The piece probably understates the ongoing severity of the problem. It does not seem to get that such conduct is a factor in the nursing shortage (not simply something the shortage is forcing hospitals to address), and it could have made clearer the extent to which disruptive conduct has a negative impact on patient outcomes. But the piece still deserves credit for an in-depth look at the problem, and for reporting on a promising new counseling program that has evidently improved the conduct of physicians referred to it. more...


Sunday Times: "Nurses fight weight test for children"

July 17, 2005 -- Today's Sunday Times (U.K.) includes a story by Sarah-Kate Templeton about the Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) "opposition to government plans to measure and weigh primary school children annually" in order to combat obesity. The RCN argues that these plans are an invasion of the children's privacy and could (in the article's words) "stigmatise fat children." It recommends the use of nurses' drop-in clinics instead. The piece seems to reflect some bias against the nurses' position, and it could have explored the complex issues presented in more depth. But it still presents a good example of nurses' patient advocacy in the public health context. more...


Impunity

July 16, 2005 -- Today the Trinidad & Tobago Express ran a short piece by Louis B. Homer on evidence presented to a local Commission of Enquiry about verbal abuse by physicians and other problems nurses face at a local hospital. The article, "Nurses at Sando hospital cry abuse from doctors," underlines the threat such abuse poses to nurses and patients, as well as the lack of resources and opportunities that are driving nurses abroad and contributing to nursing shortages in the developing world. more...


Feel Good, Inc.

July 14, 2005 -- In an episode aired on April 14 and again today, "Stories of Survival," the Dr. Phil show looked at the experience of two victims of "senseless" violence who are living with permanent facial disfigurement. They are a former deputy sheriff named Jason and Dr. Phil's sister-in-law Cindi Broaddus. The idea seemed to be to help Jason and his family, using Cindi as an inspirational example. At one point, the show introduced a nursing assistant who had helped Cindi during her recovery. Dr. Phil, Cindi and Clarice Marsh, director of pediatric nursing at UCLA, then offered brief testimonials for nursing as the under-appreciated "backbone" of health care, as Dr. Phil put it. This seemed to be part of the show's efforts to make amends for its host's November 18, 2004 remarks suggesting that many nurses were simply looking to marry a physician. We commend the effort. The image presented here is certainly better than Dr. Phil's comments last year, and Marsh did have time to say that nurses were "incredibly intelligent." But the testimonials mostly suggested that nurses were virtuous, hard-working hand-holders. No one said what nurses actually do to improve physical outcomes, or suggested what it really takes to provide skilled emotional support. The nursing assistant literally said nothing. Of course, nursing assistants, who have minimal training, are not nurses, despite Dr. Phil's suggestions to the contrary. Jason finally received a series of large promotional "donations," including the services of a Hollywood plastic surgeon and a dentist, who were presented as highly skilled professionals. These limited, possibly illusory "donations" form a striking contrast with nursing's holistic public health focus, and they send a dubious message to those facing serious adversity without access to show business largesse. more...


I'm awaiting you

July 11, 2005 -- Several news outlets have run Mary Sibierski's Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) piece about a new ad campaign by Poland to lure tourists with a poster featuring a mildly suggestive photo of a female "nurse" with the words "I'm awaiting you." The nurse poster follows one featuring a hot male plumber who assures viewers that he is staying in Poland, a joke about Western European fears of an influx of Polish "tradesmen." This is one of the least naughty "naughty nurse" images we have seen, but "trading" on that nursing stereotype remains a problem. more...


"Nurses: Kick out sex-mad Makosi"

July 8, 2005 -- Today The Sun (U.K.) ran a short, unsigned piece reporting that a group of nurses is calling for a young cardiac nurse to be "struck off" the list of licensed nurses by the Nurses and Midwifery Council because she appeared to have had "unsafe sex" during a "boozy orgy" on the U.K. reality show "Big Brother." This situation raises interesting issues about nurses' professional obligations away from their main work settings, including any duties to model responsible public health conduct or conform to a particular moral code. more...


Strangeways, Here We Come: University of Alberta medical students have something important to say about nurses--especially their breasts!

July 8, 2005 -- The Edmonton Journal published a fair piece by Jodie Sinnema on May 19 about the recent controversy surrounding the lyrics of a "Nurses' Song" performed by University of Alberta medical students at their annual "Medshow." It seems that nursing professors, the university provost, and even the medical school dean found something objectionable about the song's assertions that nurses were "whores" and "bitches" whose "incompetence" threatened to "make our patients die." But at least the medical students felt nurses were qualified to "fill up my coffeepot" and "give good head," and the refrain urged nurses to "show me those boobs." The song seems to reflect virulent misogyny, ignorance of nursing, and professional insecurity, a perfect storm of dysfunction that persists in many clinical settings, harming patients and contributing to nursing burnout and the global nursing shortage. To the extent the song and the medical students' apparent non-apology are indicators of their career trajectory, it's bad news for patients and colleagues. But the students' conduct does suggest that the business outlook may be good for local malpractice and personal injury lawyers--and possibly even those who work in the criminal justice system! Please click here to read more and join our letter-writing campaign...


Wrong turns and the Tao of nursing

July 6, 2005 -- Today the Hawaii Channel, the web site for local ABC affiliate KITV, posted a short, unsigned story about a police ceremony honoring Liane Beckwith. Beckwith is a registered nurse and paramedic instructor who had cared for a Honolulu police officer after she saw him gravely wounded by a suspect fleeing in a stolen van. Although the short piece could have given more detail as to how Beckwith used her nursing skills, it seems pretty clear from the story that she saved his life. more...


BBC: "The nurse who inspired Live Aid"

July 1, 2005 -- Today the BBC site posted a story by Jane Elliott about Claire Bertschinger, the young U.K. nurse who appeared in an influential 1984 BBC report surrounded by 85,000 starving Ethiopians, and who reportedly inspired Bob Geldof to create the original Band Aid single and Live Aid. Bertschinger has just published an autobiography, "Moving Mountains," about her time in Ethiopia. The BBC piece is a flawed but powerful reminder of the central and extraordinarily difficult roles nurses play in developing world health care, roles that are too often overlooked in media reports. more...

 

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