News on Nursing in the Media
September 2007 -- The new prime time U.S. television season promises mostly the same old narrative: nurses are the peripheral servants of heroic physicians who provide all important care, including much that nurses do in real life. The only new health drama, ABC's "Private Practice" (premiering Sept. 26), is a spinoff of the network's ratings monster "Grey's Anatomy" (Sept. 27). The new show is the brainchild of "Grey's" creator Shonda Rhimes, and it will of course focus on pretty, smart physicians. But the show's "wellness clinic" also has a cute surfing receptionist named Dell Parker (above) who just got his "nursing degree" and is studying to be a midwife--seemingly a prime time version of "Strong Medicine"'s Peter Riggs, except Dell uses his nursing skills to be a receptionist. Meanwhile, "Grey's" continues to vie with Fox's "House" (Sept. 25) for the title of the most damaging show for nursing in decades, if not in history. Both shows regularly attract more than 20 million U.S. viewers. But watch "Grey's": Rhimes has reportedly said that physician stud McSteamy will not be lonely, even with ex-flame Addison gone, because "[t]here are always nurses." Also returning are NBC's veteran "ER" (Sept. 27) and "Scrubs" (Oct. 25), shows that are not great for nursing, but do each have one major nurse character who can think and talk. "ER" in particular includes some good portrayals of nursing amid the physician-centric inaccuracies. FX's new season of "Nip/Tuck" (Oct. 30) finds the plastic surgery duo in the big pond of Los Angeles, still with no major nurse characters--unless there are some in "Hearts 'n Scalpels," the "show-within-a-show" for which the two become advisors (!). And USA Network's new "Dr. Steve-O" (Oct. 1) features "Jackass" veteran Steve-O in a reality show aimed at "de-wussifying" "wimps." That vital task involves macho stunts and the host's sidekick, "beautiful bombshell nurse" Trishelle (above), who offers attention to "patients" and Dr. Steve-O himself. Trishelle is the only regular "naughty nurse" character we are now aware of on any national U.S. TV show--a singular achievement for USA Network's parent NBC Universal, which also airs "E.R." All told, the six health-oriented shows above (obviously excluding "Dr. Steve-O") feature something like 35 major physician characters and three major nurse characters, if you count receptionist Dell. Actually, it's that staffing ratio that would make for a truly fascinating reality show. more...
August 29, 2007 -- Today San Antonio NBC affiliate WOAI reported that nurses at two major local hospitals have gone public with allegations of dangerous short-staffing. The focus of David Cruz's report is a group led by veteran nurse Imelda Balderas (right), who says that a lack of nurses at University Hospital has led to at least one patient death in recent weeks. The piece notes that nurses from Christus Santa Rosa Hospital's ICU made similar claims last week. Balderas has organized a "patient advocacy committee" to push for staffing ratios and whistle-blower protection. The hospital reportedly disputes some of the staffing claims and says it is unaware of any "widespread dissatisfaction" among nurses. We thank David Cruz and WOAI for the report, and commend Balderas and her group for speaking out about patient safety issues despite the obvious risk to their careers. more...
September 21, 2007 -- Today's WBAI HealthStyles radio program, with nurse hosts Diana Mason and Barbara Glickstein, looked at two important health topics. The first half hour featured Jill Mindlin, whose child has food allergies, reporting on a new New York state law requiring the development of model guidelines to manage the risk of food allergy and anaphylaxis in the state's schools. In the second half of HealthStyles, Chiaki Nishijima from the Polaris Project New Jersey talked about the group's work to build a sustainable grassroots anti-trafficking movement and strengthen New Jersey's capacity to identify and serve victims of human trafficking. Hear the archived file. And sign up for our free weekly alerts, so you can remember to tune in to the show live. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "subscribe HealthStyles alert."
Please consider the wide variety of things we can do to help resolve the nursing shortage, and meet the challenges of 21st Century health care, by increasing public understanding of nursing. Here are just a few:
Encourage others to get involved by:
Read From Silence to Voice, which is nursing's manual on how to speak out about the life-saving work that nurses do. It is important for the health of our profession that you tell everyone you know about the value of your work.
Doing a presentation on nursing's image? Get some film clips here.
Monitor the media and alert us to noteworthy portrayals of nursing. Set your DVR, TiVo or DVD recorder to record every time you watch television. If you see a nursing portrayal you'd like us to consider covering, let us know.
Start a health radio show, like HealthStyles with Diana Mason & Barbara Glickstein. Do health minutes and work to become a local health correspondent for television and radio news programs, like television commentator and author Pat Carroll.
Start a Nurse Shadowing Program for medical students and interns at your hospital or school. We must educate physicians as to the nature of nursing work so they can play a more positive role in creating nursing-related media, and so we can develop more collaborative relationships, which lead to better patient outcomes. See a sketch of a nurse shadowing program at Dartmouth.
Letter-writing campaigns--please write a letter for each of our campaigns.
Last but not least, please become a member of the Center. We need your financial support to make our work happen. Thank you!
The Center promotes better understanding of nursing, so nurses can do their work. But just like nurses, we need financial support to do our work. The long-term sustainability of the Center depends on it. If you appreciate our work, would you be able to chip in to help us continue? Our current situation requires that key staff donate many hundreds of hours to the Center every year, at great cost to themselves and their families. Please do your part to help us out. Thank you!
The Center's global media monitoring, analysis and advocacy is a huge challenge. It takes extensive research, writing, communication, and Internet efforts. We must pay for office equipment, supplies, transportation, Internet products, insurance, postage and telephone costs. Our office is donated by our staff. And our staff can undertake only a small part of the work that needs to be done to improve nursing's image.
So we urge you to make a donation to help us continue and expand our work. Just click here to learn about the great gifts you can receive for joining or renewing your Center membership, including our cool t-shirts and the Archie McPhee nurse action figure! It's quick and easy! And because the Center is a 501(c)(3) charity, your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.
Thank you for all of your support over the past year. You are the reason we've had a real impact on public understanding of nursing worldwide. Together, we can strengthen nursing, and give patients the kind of health care they deserve in 2007 and beyond!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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