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But when I became a physician, I put away nursing things

September 27, 2006 -- The Houston Chronicle's business section featured an article on July 8 by Brett Brune headlined "In-store clinics not a cure-all, doctors warn." The piece describes the American Medical Association's continued efforts to denigrate nurse practitioners and limit the rapid expansion of the "quick clinics" they staff in retail stores. Of course, this is nothing new. The Center has long sought to engage the physician lobbying group on its anti-NP campaign, which ignores extensive research demonstrating the high quality of NP care, and thus appears to be based more on fear of competition than a concern for safety. But the AMA has found a new point person to make its pitch: AMA board member Dr. Rebecca Patchin. Patchin exploits her status as a "former nurse" to bolster misleading attacks on NP training and care that appear in many recent press pieces, including a June 12 Chicago Tribune piece and an April 28 Bloomberg News piece. The AMA's strategy resembles that of an organization that, faced with a strong discrimination claim, chooses someone from the claimant's group to lead its defense. The Chronicle piece balances the baseless criticism of Patchin and a Texas physician only with reaction from the RediClinic CEO, whose brief quote does nothing to defend the quality of NP care. There is no hint that NPs provide comprehensive primary care outside of the quick clinics. And no NP is consulted for the piece, suggesting that physicians are the only health experts with anything useful to say about NP care. more...and join our letter-writing campaign!


Success!
Debugging the "Electronic Nurse"

September 20, 2006 -- Today we convinced ALR Technologies, Inc. to change the informal name of its new ALRT500 (right) from "Electronic Nurse" to a name that does not suggest that the machine can replace a human nurse. The ALRT500 is a home health management device that aids in treatment compliance and monitoring of those with chronic disease. However, it does not make professional judgments and take skilled clinical actions based on years of college-level science education, as nurses do. After the Center sent an email outlining our concerns, we got a call from Wendy Prabhu, President of Mercom Capital Group, ALR's investment relations firm. Ms. Prabhu said that ALR had no intention of offending nurses, and she promised that ALR would change the "Electronic Nurse" name out of respect for them. She noted that the company works with nurses every day and values their work tremendously. She assured us that ALR President Stan Cruitt feels the same way. We commend ALR Technologies and Mercom Capital Group for being remarkably responsive to nurses' concerns about their product, and for taking steps to address the situation. more...


Silly nurses! Your killer short-staffing isn't news. It's a chance to leave the bedside for legal consulting!

September 4, 2006 -- A short piece by Vickie Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD, appeared on August 21 on the American Chronicle site and elsewhere. The piece is "Why Are Nurses Leaving Clinical Nursing? Not Because of ER!" It rejects the Center's view that popular Hollywood shows are contributing to the nursing shortage. Milazzo, who is described as an "Inc. Top 10 Entrepreneur," argues that nurses' working conditions are so bad that nurses would be leaving the bedside regardless of what "ER" did. She notes that nurses are "understaffed, underappreciated, underinsured, underpaid and under-you-name-it." Milazzo does not ask why any of this has come about, or whether society's lack of respect for nurses might have anything to do with the information it gets about nursing. Instead, she reports with evident approval that nurses are "finding their own answers" to these problems. Those answers do not appear to involve saving bedside practice, but gladly leaving it to "develop new careers." Milazzo suggests that the Center ask "ER" to do a truly realistic episode about a "nurse who quits her hospital job to become a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant." Coincidentally, the training and certification of legal nurse consultants is the business of the Vickie Milazzo Institute. Today, Milazzo's entry in National Public Radio's "This I Believe" series made her lack of regard for bedside nursing even more clear. In this piece Milazzo describes how she escaped the bedside by overcoming her own "fear of becoming like the other no-risk nurses--tired, burned out and old before their time." Milazzo presents her shift from the bedside to legal consulting as a personal triumph, and she directly links nursing with soul-killing failure. more...


What's in a name

June 3, 2006 -- Today the Gulf Daily News ran a short, fairly good piece by Tariq Khonji about how to address the "chronic shortage of nurses" in Bahrain. "Incentives call for Bahrain's nurses" discusses calls for better working conditions and pay. It focuses in particular on a Bahrain Nursing Society proposal to improve nurses' position in government pay scales by reclassifying them as "professionals." The nation's Civil Service Bureau (CSB) is reportedly reluctant to do that because only "a handful" of the nation's 4,000 nurses currently have bachelor's degrees. more...


We expect you to know what's going on around you

September 14, 2006 -- The May 2006 season finale of NBC's "ER," rebroadcast tonight, is a good example of last season's better episodes for nursing. It includes a commendable number of small portrayals of ED nursing skill. Yet these are offset by suggestions that physicians are ultimately in charge of the clinical setting, as well as by some physician nursing, particularly with regard to triage. After all these years, the ensemble drama's most glaring problem remains that it has one, and only one, major nurse character. The episode, "21 Guns," was written by show runner David Zabel. more...


Nursing with War

Country Joe McDonald is perhaps best known for his Vietnam-era folk-rock protest songs, especially the antiwar classic "I-Feel-Like-I'm Fixin'-to-Die Rag." McDonald has also been active in Vietnam veterans' causes, and he has a keen interest in Florence Nightingale and other nurses who have cared for wounded soldiers. Over the years McDonald has recorded several "nurse songs," which he describes as an effort to "advocate for people who seemed to be 'taken for granted' and seemed to have no voice of their own in the public." That's a sad tribute to a profession that includes "advocacy" as one of its core missions. But we can't argue with it. McDonald put his "nurse songs" together on the "Thank the Nurse" EP in 2002. The songs are passionate, fairly catchy, and well-played, though not especially distinctive, musically or lyrically. And given their explicit pro-nurse goals, they will likely strike some as a bit didactic. Three of the four are about nurses in war zones, and two of these are tributes to nursing pioneers Nightingale and Clara Barton. McDonald sees nurses as heroic fighters for wounded soldiers who have been used and discarded. The nurses protest bad conditions, brave firefights, care for wounds, and of course, "guard[] [their] patients with a .45." The last song, "Thank the Nurse," is a specific, if limited, account of what nurses do, including "saving your life." It actually suggests that nurses are more important than physicians. The songs are not free of gender stereotypes and angel imagery, and they don't fully convey nurses' clinical skills, focusing mainly on emotional support. But none suggests that nurses are physician helpers. And all give a sense of nurses' role as the last force protecting patients from death and despair. more...


Many surgeons don't listen to nurses, say non-nurses

May 5, 2006 -- Today a number of web sites ran a HealthDay News piece by Karen Pallarito about a new study suggesting that surgeons' OR teamwork is poor. The Johns Hopkins study stresses that the hierarchical structure that can prevail in ORs may discourage nurses from speaking up about errors and other key care issues, endangering patient health. The piece does a fairly good job of bringing out these important findings. However, we can't escape the irony that the piece relies entirely on expert comment from the study's principal investigator, Hopkins surgeon Martin Makary, and a non-nurse project director at a patient care non-profit group--even though one of the other study researchers was Hopkins director of surgical nursing Lisa Rowen, RN, DNSc. In fact, the article was sufficiently nurse-focused that the MSN site's headline for it was "Nurses Give Surgeons Poor Grades on Teamwork in OR." Wouldn't it make sense--in an article about the importance of listening to what nurses have to say--to ask what nurses have to say? One thing a nurse might have noted that the piece does not is that the effects of such poor work environments can extend well past the immediate clinical interaction and contribute to other systemic problems, including nursing burnout and high turnover. more...


The golden ratios?

May 25, 2006 -- Today The Boston Globe ran an Associated Press piece by Steve LeBlanc reporting that the Massachusetts House of Representatives had voted to set up a system under which the state would regulate the number of patients hospitals could assign to each nurse. That would make Massachusetts the second U.S. state (after California) to regulate nurse-patient ratios. The AP piece is headlined "Limits are voted on nurse workload: House backs bill on staffing rules." It does a fairly good job of laying out basic issues surrounding the vote, which comes after "almost a decade of wrangling" between hospitals, who oppose ratios, and the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), a union which has sought them. more...


New website for nurse-hosted radio show

Radio host Barbara Ficarra, RN, has launched a new website for her "Health in 30" weekly radio program. The healthin30.com website contains archives of her shows featuring interviews with experts on a wide range of health topics. You can listen to her radio show every Friday at 5:30 pm online. Also remember to tune in to nurse radio hosts Diana Mason and Barbara Glickstein for their radio show "HealthStyles" every Friday at 1 pm. You can listen to these shows anywhere in the world. Subscribe to Center email alerts for one or both shows, and we will send you reminders before the shows air. Just email us at info@truthaboutnursing.org and write "subscribe Health in 30" and/or "subscribe HealthStyles." Please support nurses who are out there creating positive media images of nurses. And please consider hosting a health radio show in your local radio listening area. Thank you.


We need your help. Do you subscribe to Sports Illustrated?

We have a report that a naughty nurse ad for Schick appeared in either the September 18 or 25 issue of Sports Illustrated. However, we do not have a copy of the ad. If you can find one, please email me at ssummers@truthaboutnursing.org. Please do not send us the magazine or ad unless we ask you to, so that we do not duplicate effort. Thank you for your help!

 

Please join all our letter-writing campaigns

Please join all our campaigns, especially our Johnson & Johnson campaign, which addresses the company's focus on emotional "angel" imagery in its influential nurse recruiting television ads. Thank you!


If you value what the Center does, please donate a corresponding amount to help us continue our work. The Center needs your support!

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.


Distribute our brochures to your colleagues and students

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
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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