News on Nursing in the Media
May 23, 2006 -- The season's final two episodes of Fox's popular "House" featured the usual high level of physician nursing. The show seems to care only about physician diagnosis, but that has never stopped its brilliant physician characters from providing all key bedside care. Here, one physician even helps a post-surgical patient walk around and use the toilet. On the rare occasions when nurses appear, they often seem to be summoned into existence literally out of nowhere by the physicians to silently do a simple physical task. Such "House" nurses are nothing new, and we've referred to them as "wallpaper nurses." But given the metaphysical musings of the season finale--and House's own reference in the prior episode to the number 613 as "Jewish," presumably because the Torah has 613 commandments--these nurses reminded us more of the golems of Jewish folklore. Golems are mute, brainless humanoids crafted from inanimate material for basic tasks by the wisest and holiest, notably early rabbis: assistive creations of the most godlike. Now, can we think of any characters on "House" who might be described as godlike? The May 16 episode, "Who's Your Daddy?", was written by Lawrence Kaplow and John Mankiewicz and had 22.4 million U.S. viewers. Tonight's season finale, "No Reason," was written by series creator David Shore (story by Kaplow and Shore), and it drew 25.7 million U.S. viewers. more and join our letter-writing campaign...
July 24, 2006 -- Today the People Magazine site posted an unsigned Reuters item headlined "Miss Universe Passes Out at Pageant." The piece reports that newly crowned Miss Universe Rico Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza of Puerto Rico fainted--just 40 minutes into her "reign"--at a "post-pageant news conference" at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Mendoza apparently recovered immediately. The story is notable because it reports that the press conference organizer/announcer issued the following call for help just after the fainting: "Is there a nurse in the house?" more...
May 15, 2006 -- This week's Newsweek had a very long, admiring piece about Dr. Peter Piot, the Belgian director of the United Nations' Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Geoffrey Cowley's "The Life of a Virus Hunter" uses the story of Piot's 25 years fighting AIDS to examine the global response to the disease over that period. The narrative is driven by the efforts and expertise of prominent physicians like Piot, reinforcing the prevailing sense that virtually all clinical and policy leadership on AIDS flows from them. But the piece also devotes most of its excellent first two paragraphs to telling how, two decades ago, Kenyan nurse Elizabeth Ngugi first pioneered programs that empowered poor Nairobi workers to adopt safer practices. Ngugi's methods drastically reduced HIV transmission, preventing thousands of infections there each year, and inspired rising star Piot to take her ideas worldwide. Ngugi is now a doctorally-prepared member of the community health faculty at the University of Nairobi, and a leader in AIDS care who has been indispensable to international AIDS research for years. One 2000 science magazine profile dubbed her "the ambassador of research" for her work in connecting scholars with poor communities. Yet the Newsweek piece presents her only as "an ebullient, 90-pound nurse named Elizabeth Ngugi." Of course, many mainstream stories would have given her no credit at all. So we thank Cowley, Newsweek, and, on the assumption that he is ultimately responsible for the inclusion of Ngugi, Dr. Piot. And we hope to soon see an equally massive piece about Dr. Ngugi in a national U.S. news magazine. more...
May 11, 2006 -- Today the People's Daily web site posted a short unsigned piece from China Daily headlined "Ministry warns of nurse shortage." The article appeared to be based mainly on a press conference held by a Ministry of Health representative, though it also included a brief quote from a nurse working in a provincial capital. She underlined the Ministry's point that many nurses "lack time for patient support." The piece gave some basic information about the scope of the nation's shortage, which includes a nurse-to-population ratio of about 1:1,000. It also briefly explored one potential reason for the shortage: according to "experts," many hospitals prefer hiring physicians to "attract more patients, which leads to higher profits." The piece might have explored other potential reasons for the shortage, such as working conditions, as well as some of the more tangible effects of too few nurses, such as higher morbidity and mortality. The piece also explains that the Ministry has proposed a regulation on nurse staffing and nurses' rights, but it gives no details. Although the item could have used more specifics, we thank those responsible for this generally helpful piece. more...
May 13, 2006 -- Today the Islamic Republic News Agency (the official Iranian news agency) posted a short unsigned report headlined "Pakistan to consider banning female nurses looking after male patients." It suggests that Pakistani government officials may be considering the move because of male patients' continuing harassment of the nurses. Such a measure might provide some welcome short-term protection for female nurses in a nation which is often strongly criticized for its poor treatment of women. But the measure would also seem to respond to gender discrimination by punishing the victims, male patients who do not harass, and male nurses, who would presumably be asked to care for several times more patients than they do now. The move could also lead to some female nurses losing their jobs, since they would presumably have only about half their current patient loads. more...
August 2006--Recently the Center received a powerful letter from Rev. Hank Post about our piece on the April New Yorker article on family presence, which was written by Dr. Jerome Groopman. Rev. Post is the Foote Hospital (Michigan) chaplain who has played a critical role in efforts to promote and assess the impact of family presence during resuscitations. His letter, which also discusses the key role of nurses in making family presence work, appears at this link...
August 18, 2006 -- We have decided to postpone our Emmy Awards protest until next year, which will give us more time to build support for it in the Los Angeles area. We had difficulty generating enough interest for a really effective in-person event in the short time available this year. But with your help in spreading the word about Hollywood's effect on nursing, we hope to have a powerful event next year. We must speak truth to power. We must let those who create the world's most influential images of nursing know how important it is that they start portraying the profession fairly and accurately. We thank those who pledged their support for this year's protest, and we hope that you will join us in 2007. In the meantime, please join our latest "House" and "Grey's Anatomy" campaigns.
In order to continue speaking honestly about media images of nursing--even if it displeases major corporations and their nursing allies--the Center needs your help. Help us show that there is a place for independent voices in nursing. Help us overcome the limited "angel" and handmaiden images that have contributed to the nursing crisis. We must tell the public that nurses save lives and improve patient outcomes, so we can get the resources we need to resolve the nursing shortage. Please help us do that by making a contribution today.
The Center for Nursing Advocacy fights inaccurate media images of nursing because those images affect how decision-makers and members of the public value the profession. For most people, the media is the major source of information about nursing. But because the profession's image is so inaccurate and degraded, decision-makers tend not to fully fund nursing clinical practice, education or research. Short-staffing is one result. If we want to resolve the global nursing crisis, we must change the way the world thinks about nursing. Nurses save lives and improve outcomes every day, but few people outside nursing know that. Right now the Center has the resources to address a few of the most influential images of nursing. But we need far more funding to do what really needs to be done, including working proactively to create better images.
The Center stands ready and willing to lead that effort. But the tiny staff that donates almost all of its Center labor cannot do this without your help. We need money to pay for office supplies, internet fees, and other expenses. Most importantly, the long-term sustainability of the Center depends on core staff receiving a living wage. Please help us improve the nursing image by making a generous contribution to the Center today. And when you join, you will get cool free gifts, including t-shirts. Please join or renew your membership today. Thank you for your help. When the Center has a success, all of our supporting members should feel very proud, because we absolutely cannot do this without you. See our free member gifts.
Can you help us by circulating our brochures and asking your colleagues and friends to become donating members of the Center? If so, please email me and let me know how many brochures you would like, and we'll send them out to you. Thank you!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD USA 21212-2937
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