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Nurse Follies...well, we can't improve on that for a headline

 
January 2006 -- The Center has learned that a video reel slots game called "Nurse Follies" has been placed in casinos throughout the United States. The game appears to present the hospital as a kooky den of lust and greed, relying on several nursing stereotypes, including the young naughty nurse, the older battleaxe, and the financial enforcer. Such images, while endlessly amusing, are the last thing the nursing profession needs during a critical shortage that is claiming lives worldwide. "Nurse Follies" is sold by IGT (International Game Technology), a Nevada-based Fortune 500 company that claims to be the world's leading gaming machine maker, with 80% of the U.S. market and more than half a million machines in place worldwide. We were first alerted to the slot machines appearing at the Wynn Las Vegas casino. But when we called to register our concern, we learned that Wynn had just finished reconfiguring its Nurse Follies machines to exclude any reference to nurses because of a prior letter from just one nurse. However, manufacturer IGT insists the machines are good for nursing, and is unwilling to do anything to eliminate Nurse Follies from Las Vegas or any other gaming resort.

We understand that the object of "Nurse Follies" is to escape an excessive hospital bill. The game seems to show a young nurse with somewhat exposed cleavage presenting this bill to a shocked male patient. Next to her seems to be a male physician surrounded by hearts, though it's not clear to us whether he is lusting after the nurse or the money to be gained from the bill she is presenting. This nurse is also shown in the background fleeing someone who appears to be a randy patient. Another illustration seems to show an older nurse looking kind of threatening with a big needle. Besides the obvious appeal of sexual references, these zany images presumably play on real fears about health care costs and indifference to patient suffering.

But wait--it's just a silly game, right? In fact, public health research shows that even light fictional media products, such as television sitcoms and soap operas, have a real effect on health care views and actions. Nursing stereotypes continue to discourage practicing and potential nurses, especially men, and contribute to a general atmosphere of disrespect. Such images also add to the underfunding of nursing research, education and clinical practice. This is because health care decision makers--many of whom are themselves sadly uninformed about what nursing really is--are less likely to devote scarce resources to a profession that has become so degraded in the public consciousness. And because nurses lack adequate resources to provide good cost-effective care, including preventative care, many patients really do experience excessive bills and needless suffering. In addition, linking sexual images so closely to nursing not only reinforces stereotypes, but fosters sexual violence in the workplace. At ground level, the devaluation of nursing translates into an underpowered profession that may not be strong enough to save your life when you need it to do so. Improving the nursing image is a key part of building the strength the profession needs to overcome the global shortage and meet the challenges of 21st Century health care.

As one of our members rightly noted, many nursing organizations hold conventions and other meetings in cities with casinos, notably Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The presence of "Nurse Follies" in any of these casinos suggests a lack of respect for nurses that is not consistent with continued support from the nursing profession for the casinos, or for IGT and its many other slots games. We ask supporters to explain this to IGT and any other gaming establishments that they find have placed the "Nurse Follies" game, and to urge that all such game machines be removed immediately.

When the Center called Wynn Las Vegas about this game, we received positive news. Jamie Papp, VP of Slot Operations at Wynn Las Vegas, told us that Wynn had just finished converting 8-10 Nurse Follies slot machines to exclude reference to nurses, at a total cost of about $20,000. Wynn made this decision in response to one letter. That letter came from Francine Brock of Placentia, California, who had written to object to the damaging effect that the machines were having on public understanding of nursing. We applaud Mr. Papp and Wynn Las Vegas for making this change in support of nurses. And we also applaud Ms. Brock for taking the initiative to write her letter. We hope all nurses will see the power that one letter can have.

We wish we had similarly good news to report from the manufacturer of the slot machines, IGT. We called Joe Kaminkow (right), VP of Game Design at IGT, and spoke about the "Nurse Follies" machine's effect on public understanding of nursing. Mr. Kaminkow listened briefly, then told us about nurses who have written thanking him for putting nurses in the spotlight in IGT's slot machines. He also argued that "Nurse Follies" had the nurses actually "helping" the player win. He claimed that the game's depiction of a nurse thrusting the bill in the patient's face was realistic, saying that a "nurse" at his "doctor's office" does the billing. We wondered whether it was possible the person he was describing was a clerk, and suggested that it was not a fair portrait of what hospital nurses do in any case, but he was unreceptive to these or any other arguments. IGT has refused to take any steps to eliminate the "Nurse Follies" slot machines from casinos.

Please join our three part action plan:

Step 1   Step 2
Send your thanks to Wynn Las Vegas   Register your objection with IGT


Please send Jamie Papp from Wynn Las Vegas a letter of thanks for his effort to remove these slot machines from his casino. Please send them to us at: letters@truthaboutnursing.org and we will forward them to him.

 

 

Please ask IGT to renovate all its Nurse Follies slot machines by emailing them at Rick.Sorensen@IGT.com and copying us on the message at letters@truthaboutnursing.org

You can also call Rick Sorenson, Public Relations Manager at 1-775-448-8022.

Or if you get no satisfaction, call Ed Rogich, Vice President, Marketing at 1-702-896-8690

And please let us know what they say by emailing us at letters@truthaboutnursing.org

Step 3:

Please let us know if you see the Nurse Follies machine at a casino or other site, and we can try to address the issue at that site. Of course, we encourage you to take it up directly with the casino. It may be that Wynn Las Vegas was willing to pay to reconfigure the machines at its casino in part because it sells directly to the public, including nurses and nursing groups, and ill will from them would be bad. IGT may be more resistant in part because it seems to market its products only to other businesses. So working with the individual casinos might be an effective way of eliminating or at least reducing the influence of the machines. If you see the machine, please contact us at
media-alert@truthaboutnursing.org. Thank you.

 

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