For immediate release
December 27, 2005
Heroes, Whores and Handmaidens: 3rd Annual Golden Lamp Awards Rank Best and Worst Media Portrayals of Nursing in 2005
Baltimore, MD, December 27, 2005 -- The Center for Nursing Advocacy and the American Journal of Nursing announce this year's annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses. Media recognized by the "Golden Lamp Awards" include such well-known television hits as ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," which was singled out for especially poor performance. The Golden Lamp Awards highlight media portrayals from around the world that the Center believes deserve attention, for better or worse.
"Most of the best depictions of nursing appeared in the print press," said Center Executive Director Sandy Summers, who cited work by journalist Suzanne Gordon and the Boston Globe as exceptional. Summers also praised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for changing the name of its annual minority health campaign from "Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day" to "Take a Loved One for a Check-Up Day" in order not to exclude nurses.
Many of the worst depictions were on television. NBC's "ER," which showed some improvement overall, appeared on both the best and worst lists. But ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and Fox's "House" ranked low all year. According to Summers, "these shows portrayed nurses as mute servants, while heroic physicians provided all important care -- much of which nurses do in real life. Worse yet, the physician characters made vicious anti-nurse slurs that were never rebutted." Summers said that "Grey's Anatomy" had positive physician characters indignantly deliver lines like "Did you just call me a nurse?" and "You're the pig who called Meredith a nurse...I hate you on principle." Summers also noted that the physician characters on "House" consider nurses to be unskilled "nurse-maids" who are good for handling stool and patients who have fallen down. In one scene, she said, the lead physician summoned nurses for the latter task by calling out, "clean-up on aisle three!"
The Golden Lamp Awards were featured on a June 2005 episode of "Jeopardy!" Several of the most prominent entries on the Center's lists will be published in the January 2006 issue of the American Journal of Nursing, the oldest and largest circulating nursing journal in the world.
"Anyone who goes to the Truth's website and looks at the myriad media misrepresentations of nursing will understand why the profession still has an uphill public perception battle, particularly with those who don't have first-hand experience with nurses," said Diana Mason, RN, PhD, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing. "Research shows that the media greatly affects the public's views and actions toward health care. We applaud the efforts of The Center for Nursing Advocacy in helping the profession to overcome these inaccurate and unfair perceptions."
The Center congratulates those responsible for items on the "best" and "honorable mention" lists, and it encourages continued strong efforts from them. The Center is also reaching out to those responsible for items on the "worst" list, in the hope that it can help them improve their treatment of nursing issues in 2006.
Summers noted that some of the best accounts of nursing were created by nurses themselves, or by journalists who consulted nursing experts. "This points to the importance of nurses speaking out strongly and frequently about their profession." She added that this year the Center has seen an impressive number of nurses across the world advocating in the media for their patients and themselves.
Special "Worst Portrayal" Awards
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Thank you for helping us to improve nursing's media image. Please circulate our Golden Lamp Awards to your colleagues or post them on a bulletin board at work or school if you can, to help empower other nurses and/or students, and encourage them to take a leading role in working to educate the world about the value of nursing. Thank you!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD USA 21212-2937
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