News on Nursing in the Media
April 7, 2010 -- Perhaps the CBS sitcom Accidentally on Purpose isn't the first place you'd expect to see a complex blend of nursing issues. But tonight's episode is about the decision of the main character, the pregnant Billie, to hire an attractive "baby nurse" (nanny or infant care provider) named Nicole without consulting Zack, the baby's young father. Characters twice refer to Nicole simply as a "nurse." At first she seems nice, skilled, and professional, but she turns out to be a manipulative nymphomaniac, seducing two of Zack's friends for a three-some practically on sight, while she's supposed to be baby-proofing. The show repeatedly focuses on her breasts. Exploiting the naughty nurse stereotype? A little. Then there's the episode's use of the term "baby nurse," a dangerous distortion that implies that such infant care providers actually are nurses, when few if any have the years of college-level health science training real nurses do. In addition to misleading new parents about what their "baby nurses" know, the term suggests that real nurses have as few health skills as the infant care providers do. The show also tells us that Nicole has a "nursing degree from Cal," as if it thinks "baby nurses" really are nurses. This "baby nurse" mess, along with the naughty angle, outweighs any potential benefit from Nicole's apparent knowledge about basic infant care, and the fleeting suggestion that real nurses may have university degrees. But the episode goes further. At one point, Zack's friends fantasize about the hot Nicole squeezing the breast milk out of Billie's breasts. And we get a brief scene showing how that might work, sexualizing real nurses' focus on breastfeeding and subtly reinforcing the enduring practice of considering breastfeeding a type of "nursing," which associates a modern science profession with unskilled female care giving--though the show does not refer to breastfeeding itself as "nursing." Actually, the show really missed an opportunity by not having Nicole offer to "nurse" the infant herself. Maybe that "degree" was in wet nursing! The episode, "Face Off," was written by Kevin Bonani and Jenn Lloyd. more...see the film clips and please join our letter-writing campaign!
April 25, 2010 -- Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk will be released in paperback on May 4, with a new foreword by bestselling nurse author Echo Heron! This edition is revised and expanded, discussing Nurse Jackie and the other new nurse shows in detail, and featuring updated information throughout. You can get an author-signed copy of the book when you become a member of the Truth or renew your membership for $30 (click here!). Please help support the Truth's effort to change how the world thinks about nursing today.
This affordably-priced paperback edition (under $11 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble) makes a great Nurses Week gift for colleagues, students, or even to help family and friends understand the value of what nurses do. All royalties for the award-winning book go directly to support non-profit nursing advocacy work. Thank you for your support!
January 31, 2010 -- Today the BBC News site posted a good report by Jackie Bird, of the television show Reporting Scotland, about the last training exercise held for a large team of Scottish medics before they leave to take over a field hospital in war-torn Afghanistan. Bird's report features extended comment by three of these reserve Army medics, and two are nurses: Col. David McArthur, who will be the commander of the Camp Bastion hospital in Helmand Province, and Capt. Margot McCrone, a theater (OR) nurse who has never been deployed before. The report also gives considerable space to a surgeon, Graham Sunderland. Bird's description of the intense 48-hour simulation exercise gives readers a pretty good sense of what the team is facing--and the fact that they are doing so as a team, not a group of physicians with perhaps a few nameless helpers, which is how health missions to unstable parts of the world are often presented in the mass media. The report does seem to fall into the common misconception that nursing occurs only at the bedside, describing Col. McArthur as a "former nurse turned charity boss," as if he could not be a health leader and a nurse at the same time. And the piece is short on details of what the nurses actually do for the kind of critically injured patients they will see. But the report does a good job conveying that nurses are articulate professionals who play a vital role in this kind of care, and even that they can play a leadership role. We thank those responsible. more...
January 21, 2010 -- In a minor plotline in tonight's Private Practice (ABC), nurse midwife Dell Parker actually shows some autonomy and knowledge in coaching an expectant single mother who is determined to stick to her "natural" birth plan, despite spending three days in labor. The mother ultimately succeeds in her plan and the show displays real sympathy for her. But the plotline also spends time mocking the holistic birth model that she wants and that real midwives follow. And the show gives no real indication of why that birth model might make sense--why, for example, a mother might want to avoid drugs, C-sections, or physicians--offering only the mother's vague statements that she wants to "experience" the birth and to give her baby the "best chance that he can have." The episode also presents Dell less as an expert in natural birth than as someone trying to cope with the mother's odd ideas. And at one point, Dell brings in superstar OB/GYN Addison Montgomery for a consult about the mother's status and options that a real nurse midwife would need no help with, partly undermining the sense that Dell is an autonomous professional. Still, Dell does show psychosocial skill in helping the patient through labor, and he does finally deliver the baby solo with no problems. The plotline ends with the mother looking ecstatic. So we give the show credit for a mildly positive, though deeply flawed, portrayal of a nurse midwife. This episode, "Best Laid Plans," was written by Patti Carr & Lara Olsen. more...see the film clips and please join our letter-writing campaign!
April 14, 2010 -- Today Voice of America ran "Nurse, I Need a Reality Check: Hollywood shapes many perceptions of medical professionals but that's a problem for real-life nurses," a helpful, in-depth piece about Hollywood's portrayal of nursing by Faiza Elmasry. The piece featured extensive quotes from Truth executive director Sandy Summers and nurses at Johns Hopkins Hospital. see the article and hear the radio report...
April 22, 2010 -- Today RNDegrees.net posted "How Negative Nursing Stereotypes Hurt Patients," an excellent article by Antonia Anderson about our book Saving Lives and the Truth's work. The piece included many quotes from Truth executive director Sandy Summers. see the article...
April 21, 2010 -- Today the RWJF.org site posted "Nurses Protest Mariah Carey's Naughty Nurse Character in New Video: Video is latest in long line of negative images of nurses, expert says." The effective piece focused on the Truth's campaign about Mariah Carey's "Up Out My Face" video, and also included some information from our book Saving Lives. see the article...
April 15, 2010 -- Today the Healthleaders Media web site posted "Nurses Take Aim at Stereotypes, Mariah Carey Video," a short but helpful piece about nursing stereotypes, with a focus on the Truth's Mariah Carey campaign. see the article...
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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The Truth About Nursing is an international non-profit organization based in Baltimore that seeks to help the public understand the central role nurses play in health care. The Truth promotes more accurate media portrayals of nurses and greater use of nurses as expert sources. The group is led by Sandy Summers, co-author of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk.
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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