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News on Nursing in the Media

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Gimme that nurse fever, nurse fever.
We know how to show it!

September 2005 -- A new TAG Body Spray television commercial features an attractive, provocatively dressed "nurse" who develops "highly contagious lusty-nurse fever" and climbs into bed with the stunned male patient wearing the product. The ad reinforces the nurse-as-sex-maniac image that continues to contribute to the devaluation of nursing at a time of critical shortage. TAG Body Spray is made by The Gillette Company, the Fortune 500 company that also sells Oral B, Duracell, Braun, Venus, Mach 3, and Right Guard products. We urge everyone to ask Gillette to pull the ad now and make amends to nurses. Click here to take action with our instant letter and ask Gillette to remove their ad immediately!


NBC's "ER" starts 12th season, which will reportedly introduce nurse manager Eve Peyton; Center review of last season posted

September 22, 2005 -- Tonight NBC's enduring hospital drama "ER" will kick off its 12th season of codes and kisses. "ER" makes a more serious effort than any other prime time network show to present nurses as skilled, three-dimensional members of the health care team. The nurse characters at times display knowledge and skill, and they are not usually seen merely as casual romantic objects or clerks. One episode last year had nurse Sam Taggart caring and advocating for a rape victim with some autonomy; in another, she made a key diagnostic catch that had eluded an intern. Yet even these occasional efforts are undermined by the show's physician-centric vision of care. This includes the hopelessly lopsided nurse:physician major character ratio, the constant portrayal of physicians doing and getting credit for exciting, important work that nurses do in real life, the frequent suggestions that nurses are physician subordinates, the intense focus on physician training while nurses' professional development is ignored, the disproportionate emphasis on the one major nurse character's personal life, and the continued mishandling of slurs against nursing. Until these issues are addressed consistently (rather than for a few minutes once in a while) the show's portrayal of nursing will remain fairly poor. One glimmer of hope: reports are that the new season will include the appearance of an ED nurse manager, Kristen Johnston's Eve Peyton, who will be "inscrutable and unflappable" and act as a "mentor" to Taggart. See the Center's review of the 2004-2005 season, and our updated series review.


"The greatest crime against humanity of this century"

September 11, 2005 -- In a lengthy comment in today's Observer (U.K.), Jonathan Dimbleby urges world leaders not to squander the chance to "end poverty" by "bickering" during the United Nations summit this week in New York. Dimbleby is a major U.K. news media figure and president of the charity Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). He illustrates his argument for releasing aid to Africa with a discussion of his recent visit to Malawi, whose 12 million impoverished people receive care from a grand total of 94 Malawian physicians and 300 Malawian nurses. By comparison Sweden, with a population of 9 million, has about 90,000 practicing nurses--that is, 400 times as many nurses per person for a far healthier population. more...


In juggling your hectic business schedule prior to your stay here at Ritz Memorial, did you forget to pack one of those little essentials, like toothpaste, shampoo, or a nurse? If so, our concierge is pleased to provide them with our compliments.

September 17, 2005 -- Today the New York Times ran a so-so piece by Alina Tugend in the "Your Money" part of its business section about the apparent trend toward hiring private nurses to compensate for hospital short-staffing. The piece shows that short-staffing is a problem that could endanger readers' health, focusing on the need to have someone around to spot obvious problems like respiratory failure and to help patients to the bathroom. And it relies heavily on several nursing leaders, who provide sensible advice on how to avoid the worst effects of short-staffing, including investigating nurse staffing ratios in choosing a hospital. However, even acknowledging that the piece's focus is practical advice rather than policy, it falls short in key ways. Despite its length, the piece fails to note the link between short-staffing and the nursing shortage, does not ask even in passing whether we really want to continue our apparent slide toward a Victorian era health financing system in which only the affluent can afford nursing care, and fails to explain what nurses can do that unskilled "companions" cannot. The piece's failure to appreciate the full nature of the staffing crisis is captured in its headline: "Going to the Hospital? Don't Forget to Pack a Nurse." more...


The Great Raid film review

August 2005 -- In early 1945, a small group of U.S. Army Rangers and Filipino soldiers rescued 500 U.S. soldiers from the brutal, heavily guarded Japanese POW camp at Cabanatuan, just ahead of the Allied advance in the Philippines. "The Great Raid" and the books on which it is based get credit for resurrecting this incredible World War II story. But despite competent direction and acting, most of the movie is bland and clichéd. The officers' leadership of the raid is the film's main thing. However, the principal character in an ill-conceived subplot is nurse Margaret Utinsky (Connie Nielsen), an underground leader in occupied Manila. She is portrayed as a war hero for smuggling medicine to the desperate POWs. The real-life Utinsky was all that, but she does not deserve the fictionalized romance with a POW officer that the film supplies as her motivation. Instead, "Miss U"--as she titled her 1948 autobiography--would seem to merit her own movie. more...


Fiction, red in tooth and claw

September 2005 -- It's the end of the world as we know it, and nurses are still cold martinets who personify the mindless brutality of the universe. At least, that's how it is in T. Coraghessan Boyle's short story "Chicxulub," which, if nothing else, cannot be accused of perpetuating the "angel of mercy" stereotype. "Chicxulub" is included in Boyle's high-profile new collection Tooth and Claw. The story originally appeared in The New Yorker in March 2004. The story compares the potential loss of a couple's beloved teenage daughter to the possibility that a big rock will strike the Earth's atmosphere, with catastrophic results. The story shows once again how even products of the cultural elite can casually reinforce harmful misconceptions about the nursing profession. more...


O Pioneers!

September 1, 2005 --Today The Korea Times ran a generally good piece by Chung Ah-young headlined "Two Forensic Nurses Work to Help Sex Assault Victims." The report explains that 33-year-old nurses Youk Gi-young and Lee Kyung-a, the first forensic nurses in Korea, have begun to care for the victims of sexual assault and gather key evidence for the prosecution of perpetrators. more...


Nursing advocacy

September 14, 2005 -- Today Prensa Latina released a brief unsigned item reporting that nurses at Peruvian public hospitals are continuing a national strike, which appears to be mainly over wages. Some of the striking nurses have reportedly set up tents in San Francisco de Lima Church, and at the time of the report, a dozen of these nurses had been on a hunger strike for six days. more...


Kids with guns

July 17, 2005 -- Today the Miami Herald published a fairly good piece by John Dorschner about recent efforts to deal with the continuing problem of abusive physicians. The article, "Nurses and staff stand up against uncivil doctors," suggests that social changes, liability concerns and the nursing shortage are helping nurses address the issue. The piece probably understates the ongoing severity of the problem. It does not seem to get that such conduct is a factor in the nursing shortage (not simply something the shortage is forcing hospitals to address), and it could have made clearer the extent to which disruptive conduct has a negative impact on patient outcomes. But the piece still deserves credit for an in-depth look at the problem, and for reporting on a promising new counseling program that has evidently improved the conduct of physicians referred to it. more...


"Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear!"

August 19, 2005 -- Today the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal published a fairly long, interesting piece by Laura Cutland about hospital industry concerns over "generous" nursing compensation packages. The story focuses on a recent Catholic Healthcare West contract that raised nurse salaries and "codified" state-mandated staffing ratios in 12 Northern California hospitals. The piece, "Catholic Healthcare contract worries other hospitals," seems to place undue emphasis on management-side concerns. Much of it consists of vague, sky-is-falling assertions from some hospital executives about how unsustainable nursing salaries and staffing may become in the future. Nursing is presented as a troublesome cost of doing business, rather than a profession that is critical to patient outcomes and the main reason hospitals exist. The piece fails to supply any actual facts (e.g., widespread hospital closures) to support the impending doom scenarios, nor the piece's assertion that the state's "nursing shortage shows no signs of relief." more...


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When we work together to improve public understanding of nursing, we educate the world that nurses save lives and improve patient outcomes daily. Decision-makers who understand this will naturally direct more funding toward nursing clinical practice, education and research. But we need your support so that we are able to bring you news on nursing in the media and campaigns to improve the nursing image. Our member supported organization is supported solely by your generosity. Your tax-deductible donation will earn you cool free gifts (pictured below) including our new RN patches with credentials. Click here to learn more.


Thank you for helping us to improve nursing's media image. Please circulate our news alerts 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
Executive Director, The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790
ssummers@truthaboutnursing.org

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