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Changing how the world thinks about nursing

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Headlines:
 

Manly yes

News media around the world assess the current status of men in nursing

Inspiration information

Scottish nurse's clinical outreach program sparks national debate in Denmark

Take Action by signing our two new petitions!

Clicking and clacking

The Mindy Project's three stooges...uh, nurses

"You're the surgeon, hon -- you tell us!"

Nurses still the servants in Grey's Anatomy's 9th season

New Truth FAQ:

Q: Get a sense of humor! How could jokes possibly affect the way people think about nursing?

Press coverage

Wall Street Journal blog post by Leah Binder endorses Truth's work
and the "fascinating" Saving Lives

Saving Lives paperback coverSpeaking engagements

See Sandy and Harry Summers live at the Baltimore Central Library
on October 27 discussing the new updated edition of Saving Lives!

Pre-order a copy of the updated second edition of Saving Lives today!

Get Truth posters and place them at your school or workplace!

  

Manly yes

News media around the world assess the current status of men in nursing

nurse holding babyMarch 8, 2014 -- In recent months press sources around the world have run helpful pieces about men in nursing. These reports typically note that the percentage of men in nursing is still no more than 10%, but that it is slowly increasing as stereotypes start to fade due to the Truth's work (just kidding). The articles generally focus on at least one man in nursing, from students to senior ward managers, describing the man's path into the profession and giving some sense of what he does at work. On July 10, 2013, USA Today ran a piece from The Tennessean by Lexy Gross. The article provided basic information about the growing number of men in U.S. nursing--from about 2.7% of nurses in 1970 to about 9.6% in 2011, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report--with background from nursing experts. The piece also profiled a Tennessee nurse who considers it a "manly job" because of the fortitude it requires. On September 27, 2013, the Guardian (UK) ran an installment of its "Day in the life of..." series of health care profiles written by "student nurse" Alex Collyer, a combat medical technician studying nursing at the University of Southampton. We're not fans of the term "student nurse," which suggests that students are already nurses, but Collyer's piece was an engaging account of the rigors of his education, especially the clinical component. On October 9, 2013, the Los Angeles Times ran Ari Bloomekatz's long, powerful profile of David Fuentes, a recent UCLA nursing graduate who overcame a tough background to achieve his dream of becoming a nurse. That piece described some specific things Fuentes does for patients. It also included good quotes from UCLA nursing dean Courtney Lyder, who addressed the stereotypes that remain. And today, the Western Australian published a shorter piece by Connie Clarke that profiled veteran nurse Ian Suttie, a ward manager at Royal Perth Hospital who started out as a London musician. That article also included very good commentary on men in nursing from the Western Australian Health Department's acting chief nurse and midwifery officer Brett Evans. On the whole, these pieces give the public an accurate vision of a future with more men in nursing, while acknowledging the slow pace of progress and the social barriers that remain. We thank those responsible. more...

 

Inspiration information

Scottish nurse's clinical outreach program sparks national debate in Denmark

Ronnie Dornan, Clinical Nurse Specialist at NHS Borders SPSP Fellow, GalashielsDecember 31, 2013 -- Today The Southern Reporter (Selkirk, Scotland) ran a short report about the "pioneering" work of nurses at Borders General Hospital who developed a successful program to promote early recognition of at-risk patients. The piece says that the nurses' work sparked national debate in Denmark after it was described on a prominent television news program there. The TV report was a result of interest by Danish consultant anesthetist Jens Stubager Knudsen, who visited Borders General to learn about the work of "specialist nurse Ronnie Dornan (right), who set up the hospital's bespoke Critical Care Outreach service in 2000." The Southern Reporter item could certainly have used some detail about how the outreach program actually works. And the piece subtly reflects the continuing disparity in the perception of nurses and physicians by referring to the Danish physician as "Dr Stubager" but the Scottish nurse as "Ronnie." Still, Dornan himself refers to the physician as "Jens" in noting that the visitors were impressed with the work at Borders General. And Dornan offers a strong one-sentence summary of their success: "As well as having one of the lowest mortality rates in Scotland, the critical-care unit at the BGH [Borders General Hospital] has one of the lowest out-of-hours admissions, length of stay, need for ventilation and need for renal replacement therapy in Scotland." That kind of description of how nursing innovation improves patient outcomes is very helpful. We thank everyone responsible for this report. more...

 

Take Action!

Clicking and clacking

The Mindy Project's three stooges...uh, nurses

Mindy Project petitionMay 2013 -- By the end of its first season, Mindy Kaling's Fox sitcom The Mindy Project had three recurring nurse characters, giving it almost as many as Showtime's Nurse Jackie had at that time. But that's pretty much where the similarity in nursing portrayals ends. Nurse Jackie's lineup is led by Jackie Peyton, arguably the toughest, most expert major nurse character in U.S. television history, along with her quirky but impressive protégée Zoey Barkow. On Mindy, set at a New York ob-gyn practice, the main nurse character is Morgan Tookers, a good-hearted but demented ex-convict who drives some of the show's more ridiculous plotlines and delivers unintentionally self-mocking lines like "I am not paying $10 to check this $5 coat." There is also Beverly, an older nurse who was initially so hostile, inept, and unhinged that the practice fired her; she reacted by breaking lead character Mindy Lahiri's nose. Still, after Beverly threatened to sue for age discrimination, she was re-hired as an administrative assistant, a job at which she has proved equally incompetent. In one episode, she queries: "Is it offensive to say that I only trust an older white man to give me the news?" And late in the season the show introduced Tamra, a nurse with little evident motivation who initially functioned as an office insult comic reminiscent of Perry Cox from Scrubs, except without Cox's expertise or authority. It's true that the show is irreverent toward the physician characters in romantic and personal matters--they have their foibles and they can act foolishly. But the physicians also display health expertise, and the show does not question their medical competence. Meanwhile, the nurses are peripheral misfits who help advance plots and offer comic diversions but show little if any health knowledge. The Mindy Project feeds the stereotypes that nurses are unskilled dimwits and physician lackeys. The show's executive producers were Mindy Kaling, Michael Spiller, Howard Klein, Matt Warburton, B.J. Novak, and Charles McDougall. see the full analysis... or go straight to our petition!

 

Take Action!

"You're the surgeon, hon -- you tell us!"

Nurses still the servants in Grey's Anatomy's 9th season

Grey's AnatomyMay 16, 2013 -- Tonight's season finale of ABC's Grey's Anatomy capped another season of the all-surgeons-all-the-time drama, which has become of one of the most popular hospital shows in U.S. television history. The show has also been one of the most damaging to nursing, and this ninth season was no exception. As usual, clinical plotlines wrongly told viewers that surgeons do virtually everything that matters in the hospital, including all the skilled monitoring, critical interventions, patient education, and patient advocacy--things that nurses do in real life. A December 2012 episode did briefly feature an apparently knowledgeable nurse cajoling a nervous surgical intern into managing an infant patient in crisis. The scene suggested the nurse was training the surgeon to assume command, like a drill sergeant, but that nurses cannot act without physician direction. In the end, the nurse came off as an anonymous testing device for the surgeon, whose experience dominated the scene. A March 2013 episode included a fleeting suggestion that nurses were actually required for the hospital to do surgeries! But the rest of the season included apparently nurse-free surgeries. And the show otherwise presented nurses as obsequious servants, doing mundane physical tasks and absorbing commands with a standard "yes, doctor!" or without comment. In tonight's season finale, a major storm threatened the hospital, in a plotline seemingly based on what happened at NYU Langone Medical Center during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In real life, NYU nurses transported critical NICU patients to safety. But here, Grey's surgeons appeared to staff the NICU pretty much by themselves, ventilating the babies and providing emotional support to distressed parents. And late in the episode, the show offered a classic Grey's insult. Attending surgeon Miranda Bailey, too upset by a bad patient outcome to perform surgery, is seen ferrying blood to the OR. Surgeon Richard Webber, not recognizing Bailey at first, says "Thank you, nurse," then, seeing his mistake, apologizes. This underlines just how far Bailey has fallen, that she could be mistaken for a nurse. Soon Bailey is operating again, and the responsibility for carrying objects from point A to point B is back where it belongs. more...

 

Q: Get a sense of humor! How could jokes possibly affect the way people think about nursing?

just jokingA: Jokes do affect how we see the world. And few people would accept "just joking" as an excuse for stereotyping of other disempowered groups. Even humor and fantasy images affect people. In fact, a study by researchers at the University of Granada (Spain), published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence in 2010, found that men who had listened to a series of "sexist jokes" later displayed more tolerance for violence against women than those who had not listened to the jokes. more...

 

Press coverage

"Equally impressed and dismayed": Leah Binder's Wall Street Journal post highlights Truth's work

June 9, 2014 - Today Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, posted a strong piece on the Wall Street Journal site about the poor portrayals of nursing on television. "How TV Gets Hospitals All Wrong" points out that most recent television shows suggest that hospitals are staffed overwhelming by smart, attractive physicians. However, Binder notes, the fact is that "most of what hospitals do is deliver expert nursing care." When people are actually confronted with that fact in their own lives, it can shock them. Binder reports that a friend was "equally impressed and dismayed" that her life was in the hands of the nurses during a recent hospital stay. In other words, she was impressed by the nurses' knowledge and skills, yet understandably concerned that her life was entrusted mainly to a group of people she had been led to believe were low-skilled servants. Binder notes:

There’s a fascinating book about this, Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nursing Puts us All at Risk,” and a movement I support to pressure the entertainment industry to make some effort to acknowledge the actual work of nurses.

The link from "movement" is to the Truth's main page. Binder concludes by arguing that the gap between image and reality plays a role in the ongoing nursing shortage, which of course threatens patients. We thank her for another helpful piece about the need to improve public understanding of nursing. see the article...

 

See Sandy and Harry Summers live!


Central Library, Baltimore -- October 27, 2014

Baltimore's Central Library will feature Sandy and Harry Summers discussing their book Saving Lives as part of the library's "Writers LIVE!" series at 6:30 p.m. on October 27 in the Poe Room (2nd floor). The Central Library is the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system and is located at 400 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201. more...

       

Pre-order a copy of the new updated second edition of Saving Lives with every $30 donation!

Saving Lives paperback cover If you donate at least $30 to the Truth now, we will send you a copy of our leaders' book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk when it is released in late September, 2014. Saving Lives continues to influence nurses, the media, and members of the public around the world. Saving Lives has won an American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award and an award from the international nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau. Many nursing professors use the book as a text to discuss nursing in society. The authors donate all royalties to support The Truth About Nursing. Pre-order today--paperback or digital and we will send you a copy when it is released in September!

 

Sandy SummersPlanning speakers? Support the Truth by inviting Sandy Summers to empower your nurses!

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 internationally. 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! All honoraria go directly to support the Truth's operations. When you invite Sandy to speak, you make the Truth's work possible since honoraria are our biggest source of funding. Thank you! Click here for more details.

 

Place Truth About Nursing posters at your school or workplace

I am your RN poster Tell colleagues and patients the truth! Our "I Am Your Registered Nurse" poster presents nurses as autonomous professionals on whom patients can rely. The poster explains that nurses are modern science professionals who protect and advocate for patients and empowers nurses to meet those challenges. Designed for the bedside, the poster comforts patients by educating them about the care environment and assuring them that nurses are there to fend for them.

Short dresses posterOr consider the Truth's "Can Short Dresses Cause Short Staffing?" poster. This one takes humorous aim at the naughty nurse image that continues to haunt advertisements and other media, especially those aimed at males. The poster connects the naughty nurse image with the broader undervaluation that leads to gross underfunding of nursing education, research, and practice, ultimately threatening patients.

For every dollar that you donate, we'll send you up to 4 posters to hang at your school or workplace. Just email us at info@truthaboutnursing.org to tell us how many you'd like and where to send them. Thank you!

 

Get involved!

Get involved in helping us change how the world thinks about nursing. Check out our action page or start a chapter of the Truth in your home town. Or join us on Facebook!

 

Please donate nowPlease support The Truth About Nursing

We need your help so we can pursue this mission together. We would be very grateful if you could make a donation--even if it is $5, $10 or $25. Any amount would be so helpful. Please click here to donate. Thank you!

 

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
office 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790
ssummers@truthaboutnursing.org

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