News on Nursing in the Media
July 27, 2012 – The opening ceremony of the summer Olympic Games in London illustrated the sweep of recent centuries, from Britain’s early agrarian history to the Industrial Revolution to the digital era, with a series of joyous, inventive, and amusing spectacles. Director Danny Boyle simultaneously emphasized the National Health Service and the nation’s contributions to children’s literature, which he linked with an 11-minute segment built around references to the work of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, who had donated the royalties from his books to a local children’s hospital. The segment included a group of real nurses and physicians who dressed in traditional uniforms and danced energetically. The nurses ministered to pediatric patients by pushing them around in big rolling beds, reading to them, and tucking them in. The kids bounced on their trampoline-beds and the nurses danced, while occasionally miming what may have been care tasks, such as giving medications and hand-washing. Finally, the children fell asleep and began dreaming. Cue the entry of huge literary villain puppets, including the Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, and of course, Voldemort. But then a skyful of umbrella-toting Mary Poppins’s dropped in to the rescue! We were pleased that the nurses were presented as workers of value, right alongside physicians, with at least a suggestion of actual health care, but no obvious indication of subservience, the angel stereotype, or the naughty nurse. There seemed to be a lot more nurses than physicians—just as in real life! We saw no reference to Florence Nightingale, the British founder of modern nursing, who might have been mentioned in a long ceremony that found room for a lot of pop musicians. But we did appreciate the celebration of a national health care system that, despite its flaws, helps nurses care for everyone. The segment did underline the historic association of “nurses” with paid child care, and Poppins, the peerless nanny, actually seemed to be a more effective healer than the nurses. The nurses’ tucking and reading, while certainly good psychosocial care, probably did not enhance the public’s sense of them as skilled health professionals. But at least they knew how to read! Of course, there is only so much a brief historical depiction can say about nursing today. We were pleased that the ceremony presented nurses as vital health workers to a billion worldwide viewers, and we thank those responsible. more... and see the film clips!
February 7, 2012 -- Today the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a very good report by Stacey Burling about Hahnemann University Hospital's transition to an all-RN care model, which will mean eliminating the use of nursing assistants. The move, credited to chief executive officer Michael Halter, comes in the wake of a pilot study at the hospital that showed all-RN units had better patient outcomes as well as higher patient and nurse satisfaction. The piece features good expert comment from University of Pennsylvania nursing professor Matthew McHugh, who explains the research showing the benefits to patients and nurses from the use of higher proportions of RNs. The article might also have mentioned that research suggests using higher proportions of RNs does not actually cost much more, and can even save money, when factors like lower complication rates are considered. The report also includes brief comments from two direct care nurses, though it might have gotten more from them on how the move will affect patient care. And the piece should have consulted a nurse manager at the hospital. The piece does rightly include the reactions of the nursing assistants' union, whose representative argues that the move is "union busting" based on a "humbug," though the article includes no support for those claims. We would not expect the report to say so, but this all-RN initiative reminds us of the work of nursing pioneer Lydia Hall, who established an all-RN staff at the Loeb Center at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx in the 1960's; Hall stressed that all patient care should be provided by professional nurses. On the whole, the Inquirer report is a helpful look at a promising nursing initiative from the same reporter and newspaper responsible for "More nurses, less death," a 2010 piece about a University of Pennsylvania study finding that many lives could be saved if hospitals followed the minimum nurse staffing ratios now required in California. We thank Ms. Burling and the Inquirer for the new report. more...
Sandy Summers, the Truth's executive director, delivers the keynote speech at the 4th Biennial Nursing Conference in beautiful Windsor, Canada (near Detroit) hosted by the University of Windsor on Saturday, September 29, 2012. See the brochure and register today!
June 2012 -- Megan LeClair, RN, BSN, of the University of Wisconsin's Trauma and Life Support Center, recently performed a study based on a program from Dartmouth University in which medical students follow nurses at work to learn about the life-saving skills that nurses have. Her study was effective and we urge you to design your own! See the original Dartmouth program designed and led by Ellen Ceppetelli, RN, PhD. See Megan's abstract and results.
August 2012 -- Elizabeth Winslow, RN, PhD, FAAN, wrote a great opinion piece in the August issue of the American Journal of Nursing entitled "We Silence Our Profession When We Fail to Identify Ourselves as Nurses." Winslow encourages nurses who speak publicly to weave into the message that the speaker is a nurse. We are reminded of a similarly great piece, "Pick Up That RN Flag and Wave It" by Pam Meredith, RN, NP, which appeared in Nursing Spectrum in December 2002. Get up, stand up, nurses!
July 31, 2012 -- Check out the Truth's movie "Nursing: Isn't That Sweet?!" It's all about what happens when nurse Wendy encounters her old high school classmate Jim at a restaurant, many years later--after the two have taken their lives in very different directions! Can Wendy and Jim make a new connection? Or will things get a little ugly? Made using xtranormal software just in time for Halloween, the short video explores some chilling stereotypes that still infect public understanding of nursing. And for a different take on nursing stereotypes, check out the Truth's classic 2005 report "Nursing: Who Knew?" about a groundbreaking study in which leading researchers discover nurses' real contributions for the first time! See the video!
Many nursing professors rely on the extensive and varied materials on the Truth's website to help their students engage with critical issues nurses will face in the future, from their public image to key aspects of nursing education, practice, and advocacy. Since 2001, we have explored and analyzed how the global media and society in general has seen the nursing profession. Join your colleagues and use this material to help plan your curriculum! See the full list...
July 31, 2012 -- The electronic version of the paperback edition of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk now sells for $7 from Kindle! The B&N Nook and Apple iBook are also available for $10. The hardback and paperback editions of Saving Lives are currently sold out as we are in a transition to a new publisher. All royalties for the multiple award-winning book go directly to support our 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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