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News on Nurses in the Media
April 2007 Archives



And the first shall be first

April 26, 2007 -- Today Regis Philbin returned to the "LIVE with Regis and Kelly" TV show following his cardiac bypass surgery at New York's Weill Cornell Medical Center. Just before Regis left in mid-March, co-host Kelly Ripa had repeatedly joked that she would act as his "sponge bath nurse" in a "little nursey costume," presenting an obvious "naughty nurse" image that infuriated nurses in the United States and Canada. The show has still not responded directly to the more than 700 nurses who have written to object, or acknowledged the damage Ripa's remarks did. But today's show did include a small apparent effort to make amends that, at least in its basic form, seemed to follow the advice of the Center and many nurses. The show brought five of Regis's nurses on and offered them generic expressions of gratitude, including Ripa's comment that the "doctors can't do it without" them--actually a damaging suggestion that the nurses' role is merely assistive. The seven-minute segment was utterly dominated by three physicians, particularly the two surgeons. The physicians did all the talking. They were praised as "brilliant" (by Regis) and among the best in the world (by guest David Letterman). Ripa even joked that Regis was scared to stand next to one surgeon because he was "God." The nurses did not have the chance to say even one word. So the segment powerfully reinforced the idea that nurses are noble but low-skilled physician handmaidens, a stereotype that is even more damaging than the naughty nurse, because it is so persuasive and prevalent. Sadly, the segment's effort to thank the nurses was so flawed that we believe nursing would have been better off without it. more...


Nurses Do Research?

April 25, 2007 -- Today Katharyn May, RN, DNSc, FAAN, the Dean of the University of Wisconsin at Madison School of Nursing (right), presented a persuasive lecture entitled: "Nurses Do Research? How Nursing's Public Image Obscures Nursing Science." Dean May includes a good deal of material from the Center to support her argument that nursing research and nursing in general is underfunded in significant part because of a lack of public respect for the profession. This 47-minute lecture is free to all. Just click here then complete the free login page.


Shock Trauma nurses honored for clinical hotness!

April 25, 2007 -- Today's Baltimore Sun featured a column by Laura Vozzella about a poll taken by Baltimore City firefighters on that asked which local hospital had the "hottest" nurses. Vozzella's bemused piece suggests that this is a curious way for at least 146 responding firefighters to be spending their time, given that the department has recently been criticized for a fatal training exercise and that unions are calling for its chief to resign. But she also explains why nurses might have a problem with the poll's implied suggestion that they are all about sexiness, relying heavily on comment from Truth executive director Sandy Summers. We thank Laura Vozzella for the column. more...


There and back again

April 24, 2007 -- Today The Wall Street Journal published a mostly excellent piece by editor John Blanton, who resigned from the paper and became a nurse in a post-9/11 search for meaning. The well-written piece focuses on the crushing workload and fear of error Blanton faced as a new burn unit nurse. It has extensive, specific descriptions of the complexity and importance of nursing care. And it ably describes Blanton's transition from novice toward higher competence. Sadly, Blanton quits nursing after a couple years because, as a person in his forties, he feels he cannot afford to work as a junior nurse. The piece arguably gives too much weight to the daunting challenges the new nurse confronts, though this may simply be an honest account of the first two years at the bedside. And there is no discussion of whether the fear or financial pressures Blanton faced call for reform in the way nursing is practiced or financed. The assumption seems to be that what he experienced is his problem, but in the midst of the worst nursing shortage in U.S. history, we're not so sure. Even so, this is one of the best newspaper accounts of what nurses do that we have read, and we commend Blanton and the Journal. more...


For college grads

April 22, 2007 - The April 15 issue of PARADE magazine included a careers feature that listed "registered nurses" as one of "The Hottest Jobs (No College Degree Required)," rather than in the category of hot jobs "For College Grads." PARADE is included in many U.S. Sunday newspapers, and it has a readership of some 80 million people. The magazine's description of nurse training was very misleading. The great majority of nurses have at least an associate's degree from a college (which typically takes three full years to earn). About half of nurses now have at least a bachelor's degree. And the few hospital-based diploma programs that remain require three years of college-level training. The PARADE item brought a swift response from nurses on the magazine's web site, and from nursing leaders including Linda Burnes Bolton, DrPH, RN, FAAN, president of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN), and Teri Mills, RN, MS, ANP, who seeks to establish an Office of the National Nurse. As a result, by April 19 the PARADE site included an expression of regret that nurses had been included on the list, along with a note that most do have college degrees. Nursing was also removed from the online version of the hot job list. Unfortunately, it appears that there will be no correction in PARADE itself, and we assume relatively few of the people who saw the original item will see the web site clarification. We fear such items will continue to appear and mislead the public as long as there are several paths to nursing entry, and perhaps as long as entry does not require at least a bachelor's degree. But this story does at least show that vigorous advocacy can help nurses address the undervaluation that feeds many of the profession's current problems. more...


Law and ethics

April 12, 2007 -- Today The Sun-News (Myrtle Beach, SC) ran a short Associated Press piece reporting that some North Carolina nurses are seeking to bar nurses from participating in executions in the state. Although the state's medical association was reportedly able to bar physicians from such participation simply by issuing an ethics policy--effectively halting the state's capital punishment system and provoking a lawsuit by the state--the state's nursing board says it can't make such a move without a change to the Nursing Practice Act. Although the piece might have pursued these issues further, we thank the Sun-News and the AP for highlighting them. more...


The parish nurse

April 11, 2007 -- Today The Gainesville Times (GA) published Debbie Gilbert's "'More of a calling than a job': Church hires 'parish nurse.'" The article is a profile of registered nurse Lori Floyd, who recently joined the staff of the local First United Methodist Church as a "parish nurse." The article does a good job explaining some of the important community health benefits such a nurse can provide to church members. These include health teaching, counseling, and coordinating care initiatives like health screenings and vaccination clinics. The piece explains how the religious setting may aid Floyd's work. It does not directly address conflicts that licensed health professionals may face in religious employment, though it does note in passing that Floyd's work may include discussing "issues that some churches shy away from, such as sexuality." We thank Ms. Gilbert and the Gainesville Times for this generally helpful piece. more...



April 8, 2007 - Today the Sunday Mail (U.K.) ran an article about the May Day for Nurses campaign, which asks U.K. football (soccer) stars to donate one day's pay to what the Mail calls "a hardship fund that can be claimed by the poorest nurses across the U.K." Steve Dineen's piece is mostly about the involvement of the football stars. And the supportive but vague quotes from them and the campaign founder, political economist Noreena Hertz, do little to explain why U.K. nurses are so desperate, or how this campaign might help in the long term. But the piece does direct readers to the May Day campaign web site, which explains the campaign's hope that "the awareness raised will hopefully make the government give nurses their due." That site also argues that nurses are severely underpaid relative to other public workers, and even goes beyond the standard "nurses are noble"-style rhetoric of the Mail piece to note that lower nurse staffing means worse patient outcomes. We thank the Mail for its coverage and Noreena Hertz for this innovative campaign to highlight some key nursing issues. more...


House of Games

April 4, 2007 -- Today Salon posted a well-written essay by Sallie Tisdale, a nurse and a noted writer, called "The Beautiful Hospital." The piece was an impressionistic take on the failure of prime time Hollywood television shows, especially Fox's "House," to convey what really goes on in hospitals. Tisdale makes some excellent points in a powerful way; for a time, the piece was the web site's lead story. She describes "House"'s physician-glorification, and its tendency to suggest that physicians do everything by themselves, when in fact physicians are often peripheral to the work that nurses and others do in caring for hospital patients. Unfortunately, Tisdale's discursive piece gives no real sense of why such shows might be this way, whether it affects public health, and if it does, what might be done about it. Nor is the piece's credibility enhanced by some unfortunate distortions and errors in its discussion of the shows. Even so, we thank Tisdale and Salon for bringing some helpful points to the attention of their readers. more...


Cookies for dinner

April 2, 2007 - Today The New York Times published a story by Reed Abelson about whether small, physician-owned specialty hospitals are able to handle health emergencies. "Some Hospitals Call 911 to Save Their Patients" raises some important questions. It discusses specific cases in which post-surgical patients have died after specialty hospital staff called emergency services to have the patients taken to full-service community hospitals. And it presents the arguments of critics that the specialty hospitals represent efforts to cherry-pick the most lucrative procedures without taking responsibility for possible complications--in effect, skipping right to the dessert of health care profits. But the piece ignores nursing almost completely, and repeatedly suggests that the main if not the only issue is whether the specialty hospitals have physicians on the premises. This suggests that nurses play no critical role in handling such emergencies--unless you count calling the physicians. In fact, skilled nurses are at least as important as physicians in emergency care, and pieces like this should focus as much attention on the quality of nursing care available at specialty hospitals. more...



April 2, 2007 - Today the Canadian press carried stories about nurse Julie Beattie, who had reportedly given CPR to a heart attack victim at a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game two days before. The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star both suggest that the pediatric emergency nurse saved the fan's life. The nurse-centric coverage underscores the irony that nurses sometimes get credit when they save someone in unusual settings--at a game, in an airplane, in a parking lot--but seem to have more trouble getting the media to recognize that they actually save lives as part of their normal work. We also wonder if part of what makes such stories "news" is the fact that they involve nurses, who many in the media may not expect to have much technical health care skill. In any case, we do thank the Globe and Mail and the Star for highlighting Beattie's actions. more...


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