News on Nursing in the Media
August 9, 2009 -- Nurse practitioners have not received the attention they deserve in connection with the ongoing U.S. health reform debates. But two recent press articles do a generally good job of highlighting the key role NPs play in providing excellent, cost-effective primary care. And the stories suggest that NPs might well play a much bigger role in a health system reformed to increase access to care yet cut costs. Kelly Brewington's lengthy story "Nurse practitioners pick up the slack in providing primary care," which ran in today's Baltimore Sun, gives readers a sense of what NPs already do at a time when fewer physicians are choosing family practice, and suggests that NPs' work might expand if more people had health insurance. And in a July 26 report on National Public Radio's (NPR) Morning Edition, Joseph Shapiro explained the work of transitional care nurses, many of whom are NPs, to help patients navigate the health care system after hospital stays, preventing needless readmissions--and thereby saving a money. Commendably, both pieces rely on expert comment from the nurses, and to a lesser extent several physicians, who actually know about NPs' work, which is not something you can take for granted in media reports about health care areas that overlap with the work of physicians. The Sun does quote a Maryland physician who says NPs are "paraprofessionals" who will actually cost more money through overtreatment. Those comments reflect no understanding of what NPs do or the research showing that their care is at least as effective as that of physicians--a point that the Sun, sadly, did not include. In any case, we commend those responsible for these stories. more...
July 21, 2009 -- TNT's Hawthorne has some issues, but it deserves more credit for its efforts to show nurses as skilled patient advocates. The show often explores the limits of its lead character's authority as chief nursing officer of a Richmond, VA hospital. In the July 14 episode, Christina Hawthorne goes around a powerful surgeon to give a patient the option to get treatment from a more experienced surgeon at a different hospital. In doing so, Hawthorne violates rules related to the transfer of health records and gets in major trouble with the hospital CEO. In tonight's episode, Hawthorne tangles with the CEO over nurse under-staffing, though only in the context of a somewhat absurd plotline in which the hospital absorbs the entire emergency department patient load of a nearby hospital after its ED closes. Hawthorne also uncovers the cause of a teen's Adderall overdose: a prescription from his own physician father. These plotlines feature strong patient advocacy, though Hawthorne also tends to overstep and have her ultimately subordinate position made clear. Meanwhile, plotlines about the staff nurses--the real ones, though Hawthorne herself often plays that role--show that they too try hard to protect patients. In one, nurse Candy shows an ED patient's contemptuous father that she actually does have expertise by catching his own hypertensive crisis. Another plotline conveys sympathy for the staff nurses who must log all of their daily activities for the benefit of hospital "efficiency experts." This task seems pointless and bad for patient care, until timid nurse Kelly's log shows a patient's litigious wife that Kelly was actually nursing, rather than having sex in the closet, when the patient had an allergic reaction. Sadly, another plotline follows nurse Ray Stein on a deeply embarrassing ego trip as he plays source for a reporter who is supposedly going to expose the ED's overwhelmed condition--until the "reporter" turns out to be a delusional psychiatric patient. Ray is not a bad nurse, but he is also a hapless, self-absorbed physician wannabe--an unfortunate choice for the show's sole male nurse character. Tonight's episode was writer Jeff Rake's "Trust Me"; the July 14 episode was Anna C. Miller's "The Sense of Belonging." more...
September 3, 2009 -- Today Kaiser Health News published an op-ed by Truth About Nursing executive director Sandy Summers arguing that the role of nursing in the success of U.S. health reform must not be overlooked. Summers explains that nurses are critical both to expanding access to care and containing costs, which are key elements of the reform proposals now under consideration. Although nurses' holistic, preventative focus is vital to reform, harnessing the power of nursing will require more resources for nurses' clinical practice, education, and research. And long-term change, Summers notes, will in turn require that we improve our understanding of the value of nursing, and overcome the female stereotypes that continue to plague the profession. see the full op-ed...
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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.
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:
October 4, 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:
October 4: South Dakota Nurses Association (Sioux Falls)
October 9: Children's Hospital Association of Texas (Corpus Christi)
October 22: American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators (Baltimore)
November 11: Vermont State Nurses Association (Stowe)
Click here to see our calendar 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...
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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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