News on Nursing in the Media
The American Nurse opens nationwide today!
CNN and New York Times on care of Boston Marathon bombing victims
Disney apologizes for mocking NPs on Lab Rats and removes insult from future airings of the episode
New York Times review of Nurse 3D mentions mysterious petition
College XPress quotes Truth director in "TV Health Careers vs. Reality"
See Sandy Summers in Washington state tomorrow!
May 8, 2014 -- The American Nurse is a fine feature-length documentary about five nurses from director Carolyn Jones's 2012 book of portraits with the same name. The nurses, three women and two men, work in varied settings: a home health nurse in Appalachia, a prison nurse in Louisiana, a nun at a nursing home in Wisconsin, a military nurse working with veterans in San Diego, and a labor and delivery nurse at Johns Hopkins. The movie consists mainly of commentary from the nurses and footage of them in clinical interactions, particularly end-of-life care. It has a quiet, restrained power, reflecting the evident strength and dignity of the nurses and the moral gravity of their work. Without fanfare, Jones reveals that nurses today do far more for patients than would be expected under the traditional conception of nurses as smiley hand-holders. And the film is extraordinarily good at conveying nursing autonomy, without saying anything about it directly. These nurses come off as strong, committed people who are thinking holistically and making their own decisions; there is no suggestion here that nursing is about following physician orders. The nurses are articulate in describing how they got into the profession, what they do for patients in a basic sense, and what it takes to keep doing it. And the film highlights their psychosocial care, while avoiding the angel stereotype. Sadly, there is far less to show that the nurses have advanced physiological skills and virtually nothing about their nursing educations, although the film does reveal that at least some of the nurses were academically adrift in high school. And despite the diversity of care settings, the film's focus is a bit narrow for one called The American Nurse. These are all direct care nurses. There are no advanced practice nurses, nurse managers, or union activists, and there is little or nothing about nursing research, innovation, or policy leadership, the profession's history or care model, or its recent challenges. It's a collection of personal stories, and no one says much about "nursing." Still, the film is an engaging, affecting look at how modern nurses can improve lives. more...
April 17, 2013 -- Two major media press reports on the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon illustrate the range of nursing portrayals in coverage of mass casualty events. Yesterday CNN posted a short piece on its website by Elizabeth Cohen, along with related video, that relied mainly on commentary from two experienced trauma nurses who were on the scene as part of the regular marathon health care contingent. The report reveals something of the nurses' expertise and the key role they played in caring for the wounded. However, the piece is careful not to suggest that nurses acted alone, referring repeatedly to the "team" of "doctors and nurses" who cared for victims. Granted, the headline is "Nurses relied on trauma experience to help bombing wounded," but the report makes clear that it was not just the nurses, and on the same web page there is a link to a video interview with a physician from a local hospital ("Doctor: we were ready for this") who describes the care for the patients who arrived there in some detail. So there is a little risk that the CNN audience will miss that it was a team endeavor. Less impressive is today's longer New York Times report by Gina Kolata, Jeré Longman, and Mary Pilon, which matches its headline--"Doctors Saved Lives, If Not Legs, in Boston"--with a comprehensive account of the victims' care that suggests physicians did or directed everything important. The report does include two references to "nurses" being present at the care settings, but it does not name or quote any. Instead, there are multiple quotes from six physicians and suggestions that physicians did pretty much everything, including tasks in which nurses were surely key players, such as preparing for marathon-related issues like dehydration. At one point, the report notes that a "medical team" left a hospital at 2 a.m. and returned at 6 a.m., checking patients at each point, as if nothing happened in the interim. But the article does take time to describe a surgeon's nap. We are aware of no other Times report that corrects the imbalance in this one. We do thank CNN for its coverage of the work of nurses in the aftermath of the attack. more...
February 11, 2014 -- After many Truth supporters signed our petition about the attack on nurse practitioners (NPs) on Disney XD's Lab Rats, and our good friends at the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) added their voices, Disney apologized and edited the episode to remove the attack on NPs. In a 2013 episode of the tween series about a trio of bionic teens who live with their inventor father, the father mocked his brother by noting that he had turned into "Dr. Evil...or should I say Nurse Practitioner Evil, since you flunked out of med school!" Of course that's absurd. But the underlying assumption that NPs are wannabe physicians is not uncommon, despite all the research showing that NPs provide care that is at least as good as physician care. In any case, in recent letters to AANP and the Truth, Disney apologized and stated that it had removed the NP reference for all future airings of the episode. The company also said that it had shared our concerns with its programming team "in order to raise awareness about portrayals of the nursing profession." We thank Disney for taking these positive steps, and we have closed our Change.org petition. But in our response to Disney we renewed our request that the company make amends, perhaps by having an NP character appear as an expert clinician on a future episode of Lab Rats. We thank AANP and the more than 1,500 Truth supporters who signed our petition! more...
February 6, 2014 -- Today, in his New York Times review of the film Nurse 3D, Neil Genzlinger noted that "someone has started a [change.org] petition asking Lionsgate to pull the film from distribution because of its depiction of the nursing profession." Genzlinger went on: "That's one argument. Another is that it's just not a very good movie." Genzlinger failed to mention that the "someone" was a non-profit group working to improve public understanding of nursing. Even so, we appreciate the note, as well as the sly remark in the review's ratings information section that Nurse 3D is "rated R ... for gore, nudity and repeated violations of the nursing code of ethics." see the review...
January 2014 -- This month the website College Xpress posted "TV Health Careers vs. Reality," a detailed story by Julia Quinn-Szcesuil that relied on several quotes from Truth director Sandy Summers. The piece addressed a number of issues in giving career seekers a general sense of what entertainment television gets right and wrong about health care. But it also gave Summers, Massachusetts emergency nurse Jill Baker, and New York nursing scholar Diana Mason space to explain inaccuracies that affect nursing in particular, such as the stereotype that nurses are physician handmaidens with no important role in care. We thank College Xpress and Ms. Quinn-Szcesuil. see the article...
See Sandy deliver the keynote speech at the PeaceHealth Conference held by St. John Medical Center at Cowlitz Expo Center in Longview, Washington. Sandy will speak at 9:00 am on May 9, 2014. Hope to see you there! Contact Melissa Selzler for details.
Sandy will deliver a guest lecture to the School of Nursing Friday, August 8, 2014.
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.
If you donate at least $30 now, we will send you a copy of our leaders' book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk. Saving Lives continues to influence nurses, the media, and members of the public around the world. You can also get the paperback from Amazon. Saving Lives is also available in digital form through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iTunes. 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. You can get a free copy--paperback or digital--with every $30 donation to the Truth About Nursing!
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.
Or 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us how many you'd like and where to send them. Thank you!
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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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