News on Nursing in the Media
February 6, 2009 -- Today the New York Times ran a remarkably astute "Doctor and Patient" piece in which Pauline W. Chen, M.D., explained the problem of "moral distress," when nurses and physicians feel that they cannot do what is right for patients because of the "competing demands" of the health system that surrounds them. The most remarkable part is that Chen relies mainly on the experiences of nurses trying to protect patients in settings in which physicians and others have more power. Chen describes one of her "closest friends, a brilliant and articulate" nurse who still feels she must resort to indirect statements to express her concerns about the care plans of physicians. Chen even consults a nurse expert on moral distress in I.C.U. settings, referring to her as "Dr. Hamric" (!). The expert, Ann Hamric, urges all concerned to recognize and discuss moral distress, because "[n]o one is going to stay otherwise." We thank Dr. Chen and the Times. more...
"And yet nowhere in that newspaper article does my name appear. I am the unseen hand to his brilliance."
-- Cristina Yang, having quit surgery for nursing, protesting the media's tendency to credit physicians for the important work of nurses
May 8, 2008 -- Tonight's episode of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" was a tour de force of physician nursing and portrayed nurses as so desperate for physicians' romantic attention that they would stop work and call in their union if they failed to get it. In the episode, Seattle Grace's surgical nurses boycotted all surgeries of plastic surgeon Mark Sloane because he had loved and left too many of them. The boycott lasted until resident Miranda Bailey gave the mute ninnies a public lecture on romantic maturity and how their hurt feelings were probably a little less important than the lives that could be saved by, um, actually doing the surgeries. The producers probably thought they could not be accused of promoting the because Sloane was, as Bailey stressed, the real But the plotline suggested that nurses were too dumb to realize what Sloan was all about despite his reputation, and that they were after more of his attention than they could have, underlining the sense that they are serfs grasping at any available hunky physician. Meanwhile, the episode relentlessly showed the surgeons doing important work that nurses actually do: running the surgical board; providing all psychosocial care to distraught patients and families; giving IV medications; doing all patient monitoring, including of a patient's intracranial pressure; and doing a clinical trial essentially by themselves. Finally, resident Cristina Yang gave a bitter speech about ex-flame Preston Burke winning a prestigious medical award without crediting her help--an astonishing echo of the show's own crediting of physicians for work nurses really do. The episode was Tony Phelan and Joan Rater's "The Becoming"--drawn from a Nine Inch Nails song, because if any TV show is in sync with Trent Reznor's fiercely bleak view of modern life, it's definitely "Grey's." The episode drew 15.6 million U.S. viewers. more...and please join our letter-writing campaign!
March 9, 2009 -- This week's Newsweek includes an excellent "Health Matters" article by senior editor Jerry Adler headlined "The Nurse Will See You Now." Adler's focus is how the care his son received for years after his birth with a malformed jaw, which included more than 40 significant surgeries, showed Adler how critical nurses are to health care. Adler writes that "over the years we saw firsthand the truth behind a new book, Saving Lives, by Sandy Summers and Harry Jacobs Summers: that nurses, in fact, perform much of the direct patient care that the media, especially hospital shows on television, routinely attribute to the much more glamorous profession of doctor." Adler notes that many collaborative professions do not receive their due from the popular media, "[b]ut Saving Lives has a serious point, that the devaluation of nursing--both by overlooking nurses' contributions to positive outcomes for patients, and more subtly by emphasizing their devotion, compassion and self-sacrifice over their lifesaving skills--discourages students from the field and contributes to a critical nursing shortage." Adler even "tests" and confirms our thesis with an examination of the physician-centric anthology of interesting cases in surgeon Sherwin Nuland's The Soul of Medicine. Adler closes with a "small tribute to the nurses who kept my son alive for so long" in the recovery room, ICU, and pediatric floor after his many surgeries, most at the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at New York University (we might add that OR nurses kept his son alive during the surgeries). We thank Adler for his perceptive and heartfelt article. see the article...
March 4, 2009 -- Saving Lives authors Sandy and Harry Summers will appear on Sirius and XM Satellite Radio's "Doctor Radio" channel on Tuesday, March 10, from 6 am - 7 am. They will be on the Pulmonology show hosted by Dr. Frank Adams, a pulmonologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, to talk about nursing's media image and how if affects health care. You can tune in on Sirius (Ch. 114), XM (Ch. 119), or on the web at www.sirius.com/doctorradio (click on "Listen Online"). The show is rebroadcast later in the week. Thank you for your support.
February 3, 2009 -- Today the book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk was released by Kaplan Publishing. Written by the leaders of The Truth About Nursing, the book uses striking examples and an irreverent style to explore nursing stereotypes from TV shows to the news media. It explains how these images affect real-life decisions about nursing. And it offers practical ideas to help improve understanding of the profession--and public health. Saving Lives has won high praise from many leaders in nursing and the media. For every $40 donation you make to The Truth About Nursing, we will send you a signed copy of Saving Lives and send an additional copy of the 350-page book to an influential member of the media who needs to hear its message. You can also order Saving Lives at Barnes & Noble or Amazon, or get it at a bulk discount for your classroom or organization. Please consider helping us raise awareness of Saving Lives by distributing our press release to your local media, and sending this news alert to anyone who might be interested. And please join our campaign to distribute 1000 books to the media by making a $40 donation today. Thank 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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