News on Nursing in the Media
March 29, 2009 -- This Thursday, April 2, NBC's "ER" will broadcast its series finale, after 15 years of the popular, intense prime time drama about a busy public ED in Chicago. The show has always been physician-centric, with only one major nurse character to balance its 8-10 lead physicians. It has persistently suggested that ED nurses report to physicians, rather than nurse managers. And it has featured a great deal of physician nursing, in which the physician characters provide care that nurses really do, from defibrillation to triage to psychosocial care of patients and families. The show's relative realism and overall dramatic quality has only made these flawed depictions more persuasive to millions of viewers around the world. However, particularly in the last few years, the show has also included some of the best depictions of nursing ever seen on prime time television. Its major nurse character has at times operated with startling clinical skill, and even minor nurse characters have played roles in care that are clearly more important and realistic than those seen on any other recent network show. Episodes broadcast over the last few months illustrate all of these features. So on the occasion of the show's farewell, we discuss several of these plotlines as a tribute to what may well have been--for all its flaws--the best major U.S. network show ever for nursing. more...see film clips from the three episodes!
March 8, 2009 -- Many reports about the White House Forum on Health Care held on March 5 described key elements of the continuing U.S. nursing shortage and some proposals to address it in the early days of Barack Obama's presidency. Today Will Dunham's generally good Reuters piece discussed remarks that President Obama made about the importance of nursing and the need to resolve the critical faculty shortage. "U.S. healthcare system pinched by the nursing shortage" also included comments from U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, who is a nurse, as well as from nursing work force experts. A March 6 report on India's Sify News site had some of the same basic information, with a stronger focus on the effect proposed measures might have on nurses who have been emigrating from Asia to the U.S. to take jobs available during the shortage. The Sify article was shorter, but it did have quite a headline: "Obama against foreign nurses." In fairness, Obama appears to have said only that it makes no sense for the U.S. to "import" foreign nurses. But reports like this do suggest the complex global nature of the nursing shortage. more...
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.
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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:
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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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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