July, August and September 2013 Archives
News on Nursing in the Media
September 2013 Archives
2013 Fall TV preview
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!
August 2013 Archives
Review of Elysium
August 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...
U.K. press on nurses in new roles
August 7, 2013 -- U.K. press reports on recent developments in health care systems have highlighted the autonomous contributions nurses are making to patient care. On May 27, the BBC News website posted a piece by Adam Brimelow describing the community nursing model employed by the rapidly growing Dutch home care firm Buurtzorg, founded and run by nurse Jos de Bloc. The article explains that the non-profit firm's "district nurses," who now number about 6,500, work in teams of 10 per neighborhood to provide comprehensive and cost-effective home care, doing everything from coordinating medications to washing and dressing patients. A weekly health advice radio show complements their work, which the nurses see as important community building. And today, the Stoke Sentinel (U.K.) reported that University Hospital, Staffordshire's largest, has launched a program in which senior nurses are allowed to discharge patients. Dave Blackhurst's piece explains that the new system allows patients to be discharged when they are ready, rather than having to wait for physicians to sign off. That system is reportedly making patients happier and reducing delays in making beds available to new patients from the accident and emergency (A&E) department. The report indicates that the nurses are well-qualified to assume this new work, in part because they are so familiar with the patients. Both articles quote nurses extensively on the merits of the projects. And taken together, the pieces suggest that despite the challenges of our cost-cutting era, nurses can still improve health care by using their skills in new (or old) ways. We thank those responsible for these reports. more...
Nurse on The Glades is dying to get back to medical school
August 2013 -- The fourth and final season of TNT's summer drama The Glades traced the ongoing efforts of the able nurse Callie Cargill to become a physician. Callie accepted the marriage proposal of the police detective character Jim Longworth and moved back to the Florida town where Jim worked. That meant leaving Atlanta, where she had been attending medical school! (and practicing as a nurse, ho hum). The show suggested that while in Atlanta, Callie had been supervised by a physician, who became a good friend. Back in Florida, Callie planned to defray wedding costs not only by working at her old nursing job--which she supposedly got back based on a reference from the Atlanta physician--but also by doing a temporary research fellowship with a senior orthopedic surgeon. Initially contemptuous, this surgeon warmed to Callie and asserted more than once that she'd be a "hell of a doctor." And when the surgeon died suddenly, he left her enough money to finish medical school! Callie was probably the most significant wannabe-physician character on U.S. television since NBC's ER. Dell from ABC's Private Practice was also notable, but he only announced his medical school plans in his last couple episodes, whereas Callie was on an epic, series-long journey from nursing to the promised land of medicine. Such plotlines suggest to viewers, correctly, that nurses can be smart and skilled. But their overriding message is that if nurses have those qualities, they want to and should become physicians, which is false and damaging. In fact, nurses are perhaps 100 times more likely to pursue graduate education in nursing, usually to become advanced practice nurses. Of course, the nurse-to-physician transition on Hollywood shows is always cause for undiluted celebration; no one suggests that the character might do as much good as a nurse. And with the cancellation of The Glades soon after the final 2013 episode, nothing can be done about Callie's long march toward medicine or the show's suggestions that nurses report to physicians. more...
Disney's Lab Rats attacks nurse practitioners
August 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!
Man in nursing fights "male spice loss" with Slim Jims!
August 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...
July 2013 Archives
Nurse experts on cancer and ethics in the New York Times
July 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...