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.
Pressed to make amends to the nursing profession for the accusation that nurse anesthetists are incompetent, Ms. Rifield said that she was unable to place nurses on Vogue's editorial board since they don't have one. When asked if Vogue could do some accurate articles on nurses or use nurses as expert sources, she said that we should certainly address story ideas and submit a list of nurse experts to Donna Behen, Vogue's Health Editor.
This leads us to the following important initiatives. The Center is launching a new nurse expert database with a list of nurse experts in every field of nursing. We would like this database to be accessible to members of the media, so that they can call on nurses for expert input on their stories. This could increase understanding not only of health issues from a nursing perspective, but also of the profession itself.
A second initiative is the Center's story-idea database. The media needs an ample supply of story ideas for news articles and fictional plotlines. A story idea database will help to bring members of the media to the Truth's website, where they can learn about nursing and how to portray it accurately. Unfortunately, though the Center's database was launched some time ago, so far few nurses have shared their stories.
For decades, physicians have lobbied heavily to get their ideas and work covered by the media. Physicians understand well that the media affects public perception of their profession, and they work hard to shape their media image. Partly as a result of their efforts, the media typically portrays physicians as smart, bold, three-dimensional heroes who provide virtually all meaningful health care. All but a few story lines are told from the perspective of the physician.
If nursing is to improve its image, we must likewise work to affect how the media represents nursing. Both the nurse expert database and the story idea database are important for building the nursing image.