News on Nursing in the Media
May 5, 2011 -- On May 12, the UCLA School of Nursing will host an exciting symposium, "Media Images & Screen Representations of Nurses," featuring keynote presentations by University of Pennsylvania communication scholar Joseph Turow, PhD, and Truth executive director Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH. Professor Turow is the author of Playing Doctor: Television, Storytelling, and Medical Power, and an expert on the history of health-related television imagery. Panel discussion participants will include New York Times Well blog contributor Theresa Brown, RN; UCLA nursing professor and oncology expert Linda Sarna, RN, PhD; Larry Deutchman, executive vice president of the Entertainment Industries Council; and Richard Harding, producer of an upcoming film about the Bulgarian nurses wrongly accused of infecting 400 Libyan children with HIV. Symposium creator MarySue Heilemann, RN, PhD, an associate professor of nursing at UCLA, called the gathering an "opportunity to bring those in the media together with nurse leaders for a dialogue on how to more accurately portray the vital role nurses play in society today." The Nurses Week symposium has already received significant media attention. As Laura Perry noted on healthcanal.com, on May 12 "a group of the nation's leading media analysts, journalists, authors, and film and television experts will come together at UCLA to discuss, for the first time, controversial portrayals of nurses and nursing in the media." And Alison Hewitt's Symposium to challenge nursing stereotypes on 'ER,' 'Grey's,' 'House,' published May 5 in UCLA Today, features extensive quotes from Summers as well as Professors Heilemann and Sarna. Register for the Los Angeles symposium here!
February 20, 2011 -- Today a Press Trust of India piece reported on a plan to open a school in Uttar Pradesh to provide training in nursing and other fields for "eunuchs." By that the piece presumably means hijras, the minority of Indians who, generally speaking, were born with male physical attributes but behave in certain ways associated with females; they may or may not be castrated. Many hijras survive by providing sexual services or by begging, though they also play ceremonial roles in society, since they are thought to have spiritual powers. As the piece notes, hijras have long suffered ostracization and discrimination, and the new school is an effort to provide them with "general education" as well as "vocational training in sewing, nursing, computers, beauty care and cooking." This is a list of activities traditionally associated with females (except for "computers," but we doubt the students will be learning to write software). In fact, nursing is a modern science profession for men and women that requires intensive education, not just a series of "guest lecturers," as this school will have. We realize that in many places you need not get advanced training to have the word "nursing" in your job title, since many engaged in basic care tasks operate under nurses' supervision. But the effect of this lumping of the profession in with "sewing" and "beauty care" will still be to suggest that it is more of a traditional female pursuit than a modern profession, and of course, work that is a good fit for those with few other options. more...
February 22, 2011 -- Although the physician handmaiden remains the main Hollywood stereotype of nursing, the unskilled female sex object is still there. This week she appeared in two popular prime time television dramas airing on successive nights. In tonight's NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), a cheerful but apparently unskilled Nurse Debbie is the subject of two leering "ready for my sponge bath!"-type comments from a wounded detective. And last night’s House (Fox) presented a nameless female nurse as a physician sex object in a fantasy scene, and later, in a “real” code scene, as a panicked lay person who needed physician rescuing. In neither episode does the nurse dress provocatively. But neither nurse objects to the sexual comments either. Debbie is not even present for the remarks, and in the House fantasy scene--a fantasy constructed by House himself--the nurse actually looks a bit intrigued by two physicians' propositions. In both shows it is a different female who does object--on NCIS: LA a detective and on House a medical student. Maybe these strong, smart other women recognize that sexual abuse even of the least of their sisters--nurses--degrades all females. On the other hand, the heroic characters who are actually responsible for the imagery--Greg House and the NCIS detective--may be more interested in tweaking these female peers than anything else. In any case, the nurse characters display no real health care expertise. And the helpless House nurse responds to her crashing patient in classic House-nurse style, as the physicians rush in to save him: "I don't know what's wrong, he was stable for a while, and then all of a sudden--!." Joseph C. Wilson wrote the NCIS: LA episode ("Personal"), and Thomas L. Moran wrote the House episode ("Two Stories").. more... and see the film clips!
April 15-17, 2011 -- This weekend nursing supporters from around the world participated in The Truth About Nursing's first conference, held at the beautiful Renaissance Arts Hotel in New Orleans. Participants reported that it was one of the most empowering and informative nursing conferences they had ever attended. They said they got many good ideas for moving nursing forward and a renewed sense of hope about the profession's future -- as well as having a great time! (See some of their comments here.) And those of us who gave presentations learned a lot from those who attended the conference about the challenges and opportunities for nursing practice around the world. Thank you! see the full recap...
May 5, 2011 -- The 2010 edition of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk now sells for $10 as a paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble! Plus, the Apple iBook and B&N Nook editions are priced at less than $5! The 2010 edition of Saving Lives has a new foreword by bestselling nurse author Echo Heron. And it is revised and expanded, discussing Nurse Jackie and other new shows, and featuring updated information throughout. You can also get an author-signed paperback copy 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. These affordably-priced editions make great gifts for colleagues, students, or even to help family and friends understand the value of what nurses do. All royalties for the multiple award-winning book go directly to support non-profit nursing advocacy work. Thank you!
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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