News on Nursing in the Media
Take Action! Use your lungs!
November 2, 2009 -- Today the national advocacy group Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) launched a high-profile media campaign to increase awareness of how dangerous lung cancer is for women. The campaign is built on a rap video called "Waitin' Room Service" that features "Dr. Lung Love," who manages to work several important ideas about lung cancer into the song, including the importance of screenings and increased research funding. The LCA video is a shot-by-shot, line-by-line parody of Pitbull's recent video for "Hotel Room Service," which featured the rapper and hot, half-dressed women. Sadly, the LCA parody substitutes "nurses" who, though fully clothed in scrubs, offer attention to the Lung Love character, caressing him and dancing suggestively with him. And in one lyric, he informs us that the "nurse just left," so he'll "love your lungs tonight." Ewww. Anyway, it seems that swaggering, masterful physicians handle important health matters, while cute nurse helpmates provide, well, waitin' room service. With more inspired writing and direction, a great video could have been made to advance awareness without reinforcing the naughty nurse stereotype that has plagued real nurses for decades. The LCA video is a special insult to the oncology nurses who actually provide much of the care for cancer patients--what Lung Love so eloquently calls the "somethin'" that "can be done" if the cancer is not too far advanced (or even if it is). The Lung Cancer Alliance site makes clear that the video was not something some low level employee stumbled into. It is being promoted by the group's leadership as the central part of a major national publicity effort during Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Of course this is not the first PSA to degrade nurses (see Jon Corzine's seat belt ad and Saw III's blood donation ad), but the fact that a major DC health care charity would employ the naughty nurse image in a campaign of this magnitude surprises even us. The nurses who fight cancer deserve better than this video's tainted Lung Love, which undermines real nurses' claims to adequate resources and respect. So please give LCA some love...of nurses. Join our campaign to end the video's needless use of naughty nurse imagery!
October 21, 2009 -- Are the nurse characters on Mercy and the other new Hollywood nurse shows just self-righteous nags who have forgotten their proper place, which is certainly not to challenge physicians who are trying to do their supremely important work? Shouldn't nurses' highest aspiration be to attend medical school, or at least to marry someone who has? Some elite media critics seem to think so. Ginia Bellafante's contemptuous September 23, 2009 New York Times review suggested that Mercy's nurse characters were pathetic bridge-and-tunnel women who had fallen pretty far from ER nurses, who got to marry George Clooney and maybe even join their "superiors" by attending medical school! And today, Heather Havrilesky's roundup of new shows in Salon was practically seething about Mercy; apparently, it's a "mercilessly self-righteous" vision of nurses "wagging their fingers" at "cartoonishly self-concerned" physicians. In other words, these nurses may think they're fighting for patients, but they're really more like tiresome sitcom wives, nagging and wagging. There are reasons to fault Mercy as a drama, but it and the other nurse shows have gone out of their way to include positive counterexamples of physician conduct (the lead physician in each is smart, able, and attractive) and to show that the nurse leads are deeply flawed and sometimes wrong. It seems like some critics can't handle the idea that there really are smart, educated nurses who do (and must) challenge the care plans of physicians who are not so McDreamy in their professional roles. We can't recall such media critics attacking the far more extreme and unrealistic heroic-physician / servant-nurse narrative that has dominated the last 100 or so other hospital shows. Bellafante acknowledges that shows like House suggest only physicians matter, but apparently there's something unseemly about an "angry little soap" like Mercy trying to counter that vision. Some critics seem to identify more with physicians--the master class that smart, ambitious women like the critics themselves can now join--than they do with nurses, the sad yestergirls who still do subordinate "women's work." Sadly, the dismissive attitudes of female media figures speak volumes not only about the hard road faced by shows like Mercy, but also about why nursing itself remains undervalued and underfunded. Few may consider shows like Mercy subversive, but they do contradict some powerful "feminist" assumptions. Maybe the shows hit too close to home: How dare they suggest that nurses are like me? more...and please join our letter-writing campaign!
Truth About Nursing publications and press coverage
This month, ADVANCE for Nurses book club features our book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk. ADVANCE interviewed the co-authors of Saving Lives.
Read the book club entry
See the videos:
Then please join in the discussion at ADVANCE. Thank you!
101 Global Leadership Lessons for Nurses -- Truth About Nursing executive director Sandy Summers and board member Richard Kimball jointly wrote a chapter entitled "Autonomy" in the new book 101 Global Leadership Lessons for Nurses: Shared Legacies from Leaders and their Mentors, edited by Nancy Rollins Gantz. The book was published last month (October 2009) by Sigma Theta Tau International.
We have created a new flyer and would like to ask your help. Our flyer is entitled: "Can Short Dresses Cause Short Staffing?" It explains how the naughty nurse and other stereotypes of nursing undermine nurses' claims for adequate resources that we need to save lives and improve patient outcomes. Could you please download the 8.5" x 14" or 8.5" x 11" version and post a few at your workplace or school? Thank you very much for your help! Please let us know where and how many you are posting so we can get a sense of the reach of our campaign. Thank you!
November 11, 2009 -- The Truth About Nursing's executive director Sandy Summers will be speaking 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:
November 11: Vermont State Nurses Association (Stowe)
Click here to see our calendar for more details.
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 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:
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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