News on Nursing in the Media
December 18, 2009 -- Today the Evening Telegraph (Dundee, Scotland) ran a short but helpful item about a recent Dundee University (right) study that found stereotypical television images of nurses as "brainless" "bimbos" were discouraging academically advanced primary school students from pursuing the profession. Marjory Inglis's "Put off nursing by TV portrayal" reports that professor of nursing Liz Wilson presented the research at a meeting of the National Health Service -- Tayside's governance committee at King's Cross Hospital. The piece includes quotes from Wilson, and it describes local plans to try to counter the stereotypes. The study results are consistent with those of a 2000 study of U.S. school children by JWT Communications, which found that students got their main impression of nursing from NBC's ER, and that they considered nursing a technical job for girls, one that was unworthy of private school students. We thank Ms. Inglis and the Evening Telegraph for its report on this research, which shows again that fictional media have a powerful effect on views and actions related to nursing. more...
October 25, 2009 -- Tonight's episode of CBS's Three Rivers is a good example of the new hospital show's presentation of nurses as physician subordinates who are peripheral to serious care. The show follows the heroic exploits of a team of elite Pittsburgh surgeons, but it virtually ignores the central role skilled nurses play in transplantation, including in procuring organs, transplant surgeries, and the critical recovery period after surgery. Here the physicians conduct all significant treatments and patient interactions. The show's transplant coordinator character is not a nurse. Indeed, though he is well-meaning, he has no health care training, and he makes foolish errors (as in this episode), an ongoing insult to real transplant coordinators, who are usually nurses. There is one minor recurring nurse character, Pam Acosta. In this episode she is shown briefly treating a lightly injured patient, but even that is a rarity, since her role usually involves only occasional light banter with the godlike lead surgeon Andy Yablonski. Although the nursing portrayal in this episode is probably one of the show's best, the other nurse characters remain nameless handmaidens whose dialogue is mostly limited to submissive TV-nurse statements like "Yes, doctor!" and "Right away!" The episode, David Amann's "Code Green," drew 7.9 million U.S. viewers. more... and see the relevant film clips from the show!
August 13, 2009 -- Today the Western Australia news site Watoday.com ran a story by Julian Drape about the Australian Medical Association's (AMA) criticism of one company's plan to open more than 180 pharmacy-based clinics staffed by nurse practitioners, who would treat "common medical conditions" like infections and the flu. Predictably, the AMA does not think the NPs are qualified, branding the clinics "supermarket medicine" and claiming that NPs can't diagnose more serious conditions, despite countless studies showing that NP care is at least as good as that provided by physicians. Less predictably, AMA president Andrew Pesce (right) is quoted as saying this: "Nurse practitioners tend to be highly trained in a narrow area of health care and are not skilled or experienced in providing holistic care." That statement is false, since NPs are nurses who are trained in a care model whose core focus is holistic, but it's also pretty ironic coming from a physician, trained in a care model that often seems a bit less holistic, and, well, more focused on intense technical training in one area of health care. Watoday.com should have provided NPs or their professional associations a chance to respond to the AMA's baseless claims. Instead, all it included was an inadequate response from Health Minister Nicola Roxon who (like many retail clinic CEOs) made no defense of NP skill, but emphasized that the NPs would be required to practice under collaborative agreements with physicians. Sadly, readers of this article will likely come away with the false impression that NP care is pretty marginal. more...
Baltimore Sun Reprints -- Kelly Brewington's January 7, 2010 Baltimore Sun story "TV nurses -- the good and the bad," which featured the Truth's 2009 and 00s decade awards, was reprinted in additional media sources between January 19 and 23: the Arizona Republic, The Tampa Tribune, United Press International, India Times, and The State (SC). We thank Kelly Brewington and the Sun, as well as all who reprinted or commented on the Sun item.
Carolina Nursing News posted "Nurses in the Media: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly," which discussed the Truth's work and our awards, on its web site on January 5, 2010.
Journal of Infusion Nursing -- Mary Alexander, RN, MA, FAAN, Chief Executive Officer of the Infusion Nurses Society wrote a helpful editorial, "How Others See Us," in the journal's November / December 2009 issue. The editorial noted that the Truth's work can help nurses advocate for their professional image.
HCPro -- Sarah Kearns posted "The Truth about Nursing releases best and worst nurse portrayals of the decade" on the health care information company's Leaders' Lounge blog on January 5, 2010.
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January 2010 -- Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk has been named a Book of the Year, one of the "most valuable texts of 2009," by the American Journal of Nursing. As announced in this month's issue of the leading journal, Saving Lives was one of the books chosen in the Public Interest and Creative Works category. Judge Karen Roush noted that Saving Lives "provides readers with specific ideas on how to influence the media that could result in a more accurate perception of nursing that improves health care for everyone." She also praised the book's "in-depth comprehensive coverage of the issue" and "clear, well-organized writing." The Truth congratulates all of the book award winners, and thanks Ms. Roush and AJN. See the full awards... or order the book now.
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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.
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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