News on Nursing in the Media
June 16, 2009 -- Today the Examiner web sites posted a transcript of a recent interview in which The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg explained the professional aspirations of Brenda, the lead character in the "Sugar Plum Ballerinas" children's books she has written. Goldberg assures us that Brenda's desire to be a physician is not unusual today, because girls now have not "been told what they couldn't do," unlike girls of her generation, who "all heard, 'You have to be a nurse first. You have to be a helper. You can't be a doctor. Be a helper.'" Goldberg says nothing to cause us to doubt that she shares the contempt for nursing that is inherent in these statements. She is plainly thrilled that girls today are not forced into what she sees as the assistive work of nursing. And although Goldberg rightly suggests that this shift in attitudes is due partly to mass media like NBC's popular ER, the Lifetime drama Strong Medicine that Goldberg herself helped to create and lead from 2000-2006 pushed the idea even more strongly. That show focused on two female physician characters, but it never presented female nurses as anything more than anonymous physician subordinates. That is not feminism. In fact, nursing is a distinct health science whose autonomous practitioners use their years of college education to save lives. Of course it's great that girls now have diverse career choices. But uninformed comments like those of Goldberg and some other celebrity opinion-makers reinforce harmful stereotypes. They push able career seekers of both genders away from nursing and undermine the profession's standing among those who allocate scarce health care resources, contributing to the global nursing shortage. We urge everyone to "help" Ms. Goldberg understand nursing better. more...and please join our letter-writing campaign!
August 18, 2008 -- Tonight's episode of TNT's police drama Saving Grace featured an impressive portrayal of a burn ICU nurse who projects advanced clinical skills in treating a six-year-old boy who has been horribly burned by his father. Nurse Angela gives key information about the boy's care to the show's lead character, Oklahoma City detective Grace Hanadarko, conveying that she has holistic health expertise. Angela also displays interpersonal skills; she cares deeply about the boy, yet is tough enough to handle the suffering she witnesses. Angela plays the central role in the boy's care, just as she would in real life. A physician appears briefly to remove a breathing tube, but Angela is the main point of contact for the detectives. And unlike a 2004 episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit with a sexual assault nurse character, this episode resists the urge to have Grace herself take the lead in the care of the crime victim. A few elements of the portrayal could have been better, including Angela's decision to talk about the likelihood of the boy's dying right in front of him. But the actresses playing Angela (Camille Saviola) and Grace (Holly Hunter) both do a great job in their interactions to support the overall themes, beyond what the script requires. "Are You An Indian Princess?" was written by Mark Israel and Roger Wolfson, and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton. more...and please join us in sending a letter of thanks to the show.
Los Angeles Times -- Marc Siegel's August 24 column "The Unreal World," featured quotes from our executive director Sandy Summers. The column analyzes the accuracy of health care depictions on television. This column covered an episode of HawthoRNe entitled "Mother's Day."
California Nurses Association Registered Nurse -- In the June 2009 issue of Registered Nurse, Lucia Hwang interviewed Sandy Summers for a profile of the Truth's work, our book Saving Lives and a look at this summer's television shows on nursing in the article "RNs on Primetime" (scroll to pp. 7-8).
KNPR -- On August 10, The Truth's executive director Sandy Summers appeared on the "State of Nevada" program on KNPR, the Las Vegas affiliate of NPR. Listen to an archive of the show.
University of Nevada newspaper -- On August 24, the editor of the University of Nevada's Rebel Yell Pashtana Usufzy profiled the Truth's work in an article entitled "Nurse advocate calls for less painful portrayals."
See nurse Theresa Brown's blog entries in the New York Times "Well" health blog
A Nurse's View of Health Reform, August 19, 2009.
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.
October 4, 2009 -- The Truth About Nursing's executive director Sandy Summers will be speaking in at various locations across the U.S. 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 fall:
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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