News on Nursing in the Media
September 27, 2010 -- Today The Washington Post published a lengthy entry in its "Medical Mysteries" series headlined "Nurse solves mysterious ailment that puzzled orthopedists, oncologist." Sandra G. Boodman's piece describes a local man who spent more than a year consulting various specialist physicians, enduring "two unnecessary knee surgeries and dozens of physical therapy sessions, as well as acupuncture and other useless and sometimes painful treatments that cost thousands of dollars," before "a nurse" at an infectious disease specialist's office suggested that he might have Lyme disease. He did. You might think, then, that the article would be a tribute to nursing expertise, but instead the central fact of the story is overwhelmed by disrespect for nursing. It's not just that the piece repeatedly dismisses what the nurse did by calling it "simple" and "obvious," "a basic query by a nurse, not the acumen of five specialists." No, the most striking thing is that in this 1,300 word story describing all the erroneous thinking of the "specialists," the nurse who actually solved the problem is never named, quoted, or further described. It's true that none of the specialists are named or quoted directly either, which certainly protects them from embarrassment. And it seems that the approach of these pieces is to rely mainly on the patient's account; perhaps this patient never actually met the nurse, though he says he "remains grateful" to the nurse. But the piece does name and quote an infectious-disease expert the patient consulted after the diagnosis, so it might have done more with the nurse, even if could not give the nurse's real name. The net effect of what we do have here is to suggest that the nurse solved the problem by being so simple and limited, with a mind uncluttered by real expertise. Needless to say, there is no suggestion that maybe the nurse solved the problem because of her own expertise, or the nature of nursing, including the profession's holistic and flexible approach, which is no less "expert" for being broad. The piece pokes fun at the specialist physicians, but it still reinforces the idea that they are the main source of health knowledge--the same idea that seems to have gotten this patient in so much trouble. more...
May 20, 2010 -- Today Reuters released a short video report by Ian Lee about a protest by "thousands" of French nurses who blocked train traffic at one of Paris's busiest stations before police forcibly removed them. The nurses said they had completed two years of government-approved specialty training to become anesthetists, on top of the initial three years required to become a nurse, but the government had apparently failed to recognize their training, with a recent protocol offering them no additional salary and allowing nurses without the special training to undertake the anesthesia work. The brief piece might have given more explanation, starting with a response from the government. But it does tell the public about an extraordinary example of nursing advocacy in response to apparent disrespect for nursing skills, with one protester lamenting that the government does not listen to the nurses, who are "despised." more...
April 8, 2010 -- Today the BBC web site posted an unsigned report about the launch of a new program under which all 36,000 Welsh nurses and midwives will wear a national uniform, in colors determined by their specialty or level of authority. As the piece explains, the idea is to make it easier for confused patients to see who is who, which is a chronic problem in many areas today because of the proliferation of different workers in modern hospitals. Wales is the first nation in the United Kingdom to introduce a national nursing uniform. The BBC report includes quotes from the chief nursing officer for Wales and the ward sister who apparently first raised the idea of the national uniforms with the Welsh health minister. The report suggests that a significant reason for the initiative is that nurse managers did not believe that their authority was being adequately recognized. In any case, although some may not favor requiring all nurses to wear a single uniform, we have long urged hospitals and others to consider some method, such as the RN patch, to help nurses distinguish themselves from other hospital workers. When patients (and physicians) cannot tell who is a nurse, they may assume everyone is, and this tends not only to confuse but also to undermine understanding of nursing expertise, which is already too limited. In addition, the new uniforms' distinguishing of different types of nurses lets people know that nurses, like other professionals, have different specialties and levels of authority. The BBC report on the new uniforms could have included more detail, but it is generally helpful, and we salute the Welsh government for this bold effort to tell society who the nurses are. more...
Truth About Nursing and Saving Lives media appearances
October 7, 2010 -- Today the prominent U.K. nursing publication The Nursing Times published the fourth in the series of online pieces by Truth executive director Sandy Summers and senior advisor Harry Jacobs Summers, "The image of nursing: The handmaiden."
October 2010 -- Come hear Truth executive director Sandy Summers speak this month! Sandy will speak at the Southern Connecticut State University School of Nursing in New Haven on October 20, and at the Connecticut Nurses' Association's Annual Convention in Cromwell on October 21. Also see her at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, Florida on October 27. Further details are here...
Right now we are offering guest lectures by Sandy Summers by conference call, Webex, or other electronic means at no cost to any class that is discussing nursing's media image and using Saving Lives as one of its texts. Just email us at email@example.com to set up a dynamic and engaging guest presentation. Thank you!
October 10, 2010 -- Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk now available in paperback, 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 (about $12 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble) makes a great Nurses Day 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!
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
Founder and Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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