Changing how the world thinks about nursing

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Let's "celebrate the ladies who give lollipops and band aids" with a Nurse Nancy bracelet!

March 18, 2008 -- Earlier this month, New York State Nurses Association CEO Tina Gerardi alerted us to an Angela Moore jewelry catalog she received in the mail that featured "Nurse Nancy" bracelets and necklaces. The jewelry is composed of four different types of balls (pictured right). One ball features a smiling rosy-cheeked nurse in white uniform and cap giving a balloon to a girl. A second ball has a ladybug next to a stethoscope. The third ball features a nurse's cap with a thermometer and the fourth ball has a stuffed bear holding flowers next to a lollipop. The text in the catalog asked readers to buy the "Nurse Nancy" jewelry to "celebrate the ladies who give lollipops and band aids a whole new meaning." Ms. Gerardi, an Angela Moore customer, asked the jewelry maker to modify the name, design, and catalog description of the jewelry. The company agreed only to change the description--but they did so right away.

Angela Moore's company responded that they had immediately changed the text in the online advertisement (and hopefully the text in the next catalog) to:

"Here's a special theme to celebrate the wonderful women who promote health and make us feel so much better. Talented, terrific and leaders to love!"

While this is not our idea of how to best describe nursing, it is a great improvement over lollipops and band aids and it does contain several good elements. Nurses do "promote health," and we agree that they are talented and terrific. "Leaders" is a far better descriptor than we have seen in 99% of Hollywood depictions of nurses. Indeed, few people know that nurses are health care leaders. The line that nurses "make us feel so much better" implies that nurses improve patient outcomes on some level.

But there is also the description of nurses as "wonderful women," which implies that all nurses are women. Such ideas undermine social acceptance and support for men in nursing. And the statements "make us feel so much better," "leaders to love," and "wonderful women" sound like adoration for someone's loving mom who makes them feel so much better by making them soup or tea. We're not knocking soup. But nurses do more than moms. Nurses teach moms (and dads) how to make and administer soup so they can stop the deadly cycle of malnutrition / diarrhea / dehydration. Nurses save lives by educating, advocating and intervening using a wide range of knowledge and skills.

Overall, the revised description is tremendously better. But no improvement in the description of the jewelry could possibly fix the problems with the jewelry itself--with the exception of the stethoscope image. The other images are hopelessly infused with maternal, angel and handmaiden stereotypes, featuring fuzzy bears, snug bugs, soothing lollipops and cuddly images of devoted females.

Ms. Gerardi also asked the Angela Moore company to consider designing a new type of nurse jewelry once the current line of jewelry has sold out. We hope the jewelry makers will consider this seriously and promote more accurate images of the nursing profession.

We applaud Ms. Gerardi for speaking out to the company. We believe the company acted on her one letter alone for two reasons: 1) She is a powerful nursing leader who has the ability to influence many others; 2) Ms. Gerardi is a frequent jewelry customer of Angela Moore.

Many nurses fail to believe in the power of their singular action. We agree that it can be difficult to get a company to change with one letter. But it is possible, even for nurses who are not in leadership positions. For instance, one nurse's letter convinced Wynn Casinos to remove a naughty nurse slot machine from its floors at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars. One person can make a change. We encourage all readers to speak to those interests that misrepresent nursing. Tell us about it. Tell your friends, colleagues and students. Tell your neighbors and people who are not nurses. Our patients are also interested in helping nurses strengthen their profession, because their lives depend upon high quality nursing care. The more people who speak, the more likely that Angela Moore and others will listen and change the nursing images they create.

Take Action!

Please email the Angela Moore Company at angela@angelamoore.com to ask them to stop selling the "Nurse Nancy" line of jewelry and instead create more positive, professional images of nursing in the future. Please copy us at letters@truthaboutnursing.org. Thank you!

Exchange of letters

Below is the exchange of letters between Tina Gerardi, CEO of the New York State Nurses Association and Rachael Pickin, the Catalog/Web Coordinator at Angela Moore Company.

Letter #1 Tina Gerardi to Angela Moore Company

Response #1 from Angela Moore Company to Tina Gerardi

Letter #2 Tina Gerardi to Angela Moore Company

Response #2 from Angela Moore Company to Tina Gerardi
 

Letter #1 Tina Gerardi to the Angela Moore Company

March 12, 2008

Ms. Angela Moore
Owner
Angela Moore
Two Corporate Place
Middleton, Rhode Island 02842

Dear Ms. Moore:

I am writing as a registered professional nurse and a long-time customer, owning many pieces of your jewelry. I was shocked and saddened to see the description of the "Nurse Nancy" bracelet and necklace on page 29 in your Spring/Summer 2008 catalog that I received yesterday in the mail.

First, nurses are bright, intelligent, well-educated critical thinkers who make informed decisions quickly in an effort to save lives and impact positively on health outcomes for our patients. As the chief executive officer of the oldest and largest state nurses association representing the professional interests of over 240,000 registered nurses, the "Nancy Nurse" image is one that we work to overcome each and every day in our work places and in the media depictions of nurses. The phrase, "celebrate the ladies who give lollipops and band aids a whole new meaning," is equally degrading to me as a professional and as a woman. The pictures on the bracelet of teddy bears and a rosy cheeked woman in a cap perpetuate a fantasy and image of nurses as hand-maidens and as non-professionals.

Inaccurate images of nursing can worsen the nursing shortage by deterring persons from becoming nurses as well as encouraging veterans to leave the profession. Presenting nurses as passive helpers damages professional morale. As a professional nurse I implore you to immediately change the name and description of the bracelet and necklace on your website and to change it in all future catalogs. A more appropriate name such as "celebrate nurses" or "celebrate nursing" and a description and images that highlight the stellar work nurses do each day to promote health, deliver state-of-the art care, and ensure the safety of the patients they serve would be a more accurate and professional image of nurses and nursing.

I look forward to a positive response to my concerns.

Sincerely,

Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, CAE
Chief Executive Officer

cc. Center for Nursing Advocacy

Response #1 from the Angela Moore Company:

Dear Ms. Gerardi,

Thank you for your email. Angela has asked me to let you know that her designs are intended to be whimsical, fun and to make people smile. In fact, many of her designs have this same spirit and the copy is lighthearted. It is never our intention to demean professions and as you may have noted, much of our work goes to organizations like Komen for the Cure and the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.

The Nurse Nancy design was introduced a few years ago and so has been in the collection for awhile with many happy customers. While it is not possible to change the name or design at this time, we have taken the step of modifying our website copy to reflect a sentiment which we hope is in keeping with your valued mission of promoting health and demonstrating the nursing profession as one filled with courageous leaders.

The revised copy reads as follows:

"Here's a special theme to celebrate the wonderful women who promote health and make us feel so much better. Talented, terrific and leaders to love!"

Best Regards,

Rachael Pickin
Catalog/Web Coordinator
Angela Moore Inc.
www.angelamoore.com

Second letter from Tina Gerardi to the Angela Moore Company:

Dear Ms. Pickin,

Thank you for your timely reply to my email and the revised copy; it is much better. Although I understand the whimsical nature of Ms. Moore's jewelry, I hope that when your inventory of this bracelet is low you will consider my comments in any redesign of this product to be more in line with the professional way the breast cancer and ovarian cancer jewelry is presented and described. I would be happy to identify a nurse to assist with the redesign and copy for a new nurse bracelet.

Sincerely,

Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, CAE

Second response from the Angela Moore Company:

Dear Ms. Gerardi,

Thanks for your nice message and we will keep your email information on file in the event Angela wishes to contact you about a future nurse theme design. We appreciate your interest and hope you have a great spring.


Best Regards,

Rachael Pickin

 

 

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