News on Nursing in the Media
July 6, 2009 -- Tonight's episode of Showtime's Nurse Jackie is yet another powerful showcase for Jackie's clinical virtuosity. The focus in several plotlines is not so much on Jackie's care for ED patients' immediate ailments as it is her holistic focus, how she expertly manages the larger family dynamics that have such a huge impact on health. Here she negotiates hospital rules to help a precocious 10-year-old continue to manage her mother's debilitating lupus. She also finds a creative way to advocate for a stroke victim, demonstrating to his obnoxious family that he's "still in there," even though he can't speak or move much of his body. At the same time, Jackie continues to mentor nursing student Zoey and new physician Coop, teaching the former about triage and the latter how to relate to the 10-year-old girl. The show even includes a quick but telling comment on patterned scrubs and the nursing image. The episode is slightly marred by its depiction of triage--it does involve assessing serious conditions, but it's not a "very simple" task that would ever be assigned to a student. And the portrayal of nurse manager Gloria Akalitus seems to reflect the battleaxe stereotype. Akalitus is a disagreeable killjoy, obsessed with enforcing rules regardless of whether they advance the wellbeing of those around her. The show punishes her constantly, her scenes are often funny, and of course some nurse managers are bureaucratic. But Akalitus is the show's Percocet, a quick way to feel better, but with potentially serious long term costs. This kind of image may suggest that female nurses can't handle authority, and that any strong woman who chooses to be a nurse must be twisted and bitter. Of course, Jackie herself belies that suggestion, and on the whole this episode offers a persuasive depiction of her advanced nursing skills. The episode, "Daffodil," was written by Taii K. Austin. more...
June 1, 2009 -- A number of recent press items from sub-Saharan African nations portray the nursing profession in positive terms. They stress how important and difficult the job is in those nations during the global nursing shortage, even though the articles sometimes fall prey to angel stereotyping or fail to convey much about the advanced skills nursing requires. A good example appeared on March 11 in the Kampala-based magazine The Independent: "Nurses -- Uganda's angels," by Mubatsi Asinja Habati. Then there are the stories about nursing in South Africa. A sadly typical example is Graeme Hosken's "Nurses 'drink tea while mom gives birth,'" which appeared today on page 1 of The Pretoria News. Another discouraging article with a drinking theme was Sipokazi Maposa's March 2 story in The Cape Argus, "Nurses drink on duty, say terrified patients." Pieces like this describe--as they should--the poor "care" that some patients report receiving from nurses in South Africa. Unfortunately, few of the pieces we've seen provide much context to explain why health care professionals might fail so miserably to discharge their duties to patients. One notable exception is Zara Nicholson's "Nurses also victims of poor health care," which ran on March 28 in The Cape Argus. Nicholson's article tells readers about the extreme challenges public sector South African nurses face, from critical shortages of staff and resources to widespread disrespect to the abuse by frustrated patients that is a natural result of the shortages. We commend those responsible for the above items--most of which focus on nurses working in obstetrics--for telling readers something of value about the troubled state of nursing. more...
See nurse Theresa Brown's blog entries in the New York Times "Well" health blog
A Nurse Reviews Nurse Jackie, August 5, 2009.
A Nurse’s Very Bad Day, July 22, 2009.
Why Nurse Stereotypes Are Bad for Health, July 1, 2009.
At Monday August 10th at 9 am PST, tune in for a half hour interview with Sandy Summers on the "State of Nevada" program on KNPR, the Las Vegas affiliate of NPR. The show will be streamed and archived at the KNPR site.
August 10-11, 2009 -- The Truth About Nursing's executive director Sandy Summers will be speaking in Las Vegas and Reno in couple days. Come on out and see her, and be part of the conversation on changing how the public thinks about nursing. There is a seating limit, so please check with event hosts for space availability. See our list of events this summer and fall:
August 10: Nevada Nurses Association
August 11: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
October 4: South Dakota Nurses Association
October 9: Children's Hospital Association of Texas
November 11: Vermont State Nurses Association
Click here to see our calendar for more details.
We need your help so we can pursue this mission together. We would be very grateful if you could make a donation--even if it is $5, $10 or $25. Any amount would be so helpful. Please click here to donate. Thank you!
Our new book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk uses striking examples and an irreverent style to explore nursing stereotypes from TV shows to the news media. We hope every nurse will read it and consider the role the media plays in nursing today--and how we can improve the profession's public image. But the book also explains nursing in compelling terms to the public and decision-makers. We want as many non-nurses as possible to read it. Here are some ideas to spread the word about nursing and the media:
Media images of health care--like the ones on ABC's popular "Grey's Anatomy"--have an important effect on the nursing profession. Many nurses and nursing students feel frustrated when influential media products undervalue nurses. But how can we change what the media tells the public about nursing? Sandy Summers has led high-profile efforts to promote more accurate and robust depictions of nursing since 2001. She has shared her insights in dynamic presentations to groups across North America. She empowers nurses and teaches them how to shape their image into one that reflects the profession's true value. When nurses get the respect they deserve, they will attract more resources for nursing practice, education, and research, so we can resolve the nursing shortage. Sign Sandy up for your next conference, nurses' week celebration, or gala event! Click here for more details.
We have created two provocative new flyers, and if you like them, please help us distribute them as widely as possible. The "Not What They Say I Am" flyer sends a message that many media depictions of nurses are not accurate and that nurses object to them, in part because they undermine nurses' claims to adequate resources. This is a key message of the Truth About Nursing, and one explored in detail in our new book Saving Lives. The ironic "Hooray for Hollywood" flyer sends the message that, in our view, there has been little for nurses to cheer about in recent Hollywood depictions of their work. Popular TV shows like "House" and "Grey's Anatomy" have repeatedly offered inaccurate and damaging images of nursing, and we hope the flyer will cause those who see it to reconsider those images. The small print on the flyers directs people to our book and The Truth's website to learn more. see the full posters and links for downloading and or request flyers be sent to you...
The Truth About Nursing is a Maryland non-profit corporation. We will soon apply to the IRS for 501(c)(3) charitable organization status. If we receive 501(c)(3) status, then donations we receive (minus the fair market value of the book or any other member gift) will be tax-deductible as allowed by law.
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Thank you for supporting the Truth About Nursing's work!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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