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golden lampThe Truth About Nursing Awards Rank Best and Worst Media Portrayals of Nursing

From experts to stooges

The 2013 Truth About Nursing Awards

The Truth About Nursing announces our 11th annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses! The year 2013 featured the BBC/PBS television series Call the Midwife, with its skilled, autonomous nurses caring for the poor in 1950's London. Other highlights included an excellent New York Times column with expert advice on cancer from nurse Julia Bucher; news reports showcasing U.K. nursing innovations; pieces on the importance of beleaguered U.S. school nurses; another season of Showtime's Nurse Jackie with strong elements; and even a fine episode of NBC's Parks & Recreation, in which nurse Ann Perkins persuaded a difficult colleague to make a lifestyle change! 2013 awardsOn the downside, many popular Hollywood television shows presented a dismal vision of nursing to viewers around the world. Notable examples included ABC's Grey's Anatomy, with its brilliant surgeons doing everything important and its nurses virtually nothing of interest; Fox's The Mindy Project, with its quirky but skilled OB-GYN physicians and their three stooge-nurses; A&E's The Glades, with its wannabe-physician nurse character; damaging episodes of ABC's Modern Family and Fox's Glee; and of course, MTV's notorious travel nurse reality show Scrubbing In, which reinforced unskilled and naughty nurse stereotypes but also sparked a huge, partially successful protest by nurses in Canada and the U.S. Despite all the problems, we thank those responsible for the best media and encourage others to keep trying. See the full awards!

 

Kickball and tummy aches

The 2012 Truth About Nursing Awards for best and worst media depictions

Best and Worst Media Depictions 20122013 -- The Truth About Nursing announces our 10th annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses! The year 2012 featured the popular BBC/PBS series Call the Midwife, which showed skilled and autonomous nurses caring for the poor in 1950's London, as well as valuable new seasons from Showtime's Nurse Jackie and Channel 4's documentary series 24 Hours in A&E in the U.K.Mainstream press sources published good items ranging from Tina Rosenberg's excellent New York Times piece about the value of APRN-run clinics, to Julian Guthrie's San Francisco Chronicle profile of UCSF nursing dean David Vlahov, to Ronan McGreevy's Irish Times report about the University College Dublin study of nursing imagery on YouTube, to an Indian Express piece about a recent study on the appalling working conditions that Indian nurses confront. And many nurses advocated strongly for better public health and for better media about nursing, including Massachusetts nurse Wendie Howland, who monitors the "Help a Reporter Out" website to educate journalists when they seem to assume that only physicians can provide health expertise for their stories. On the other hand, the year also included the usual onslaught of damaging distortions from the media. The U.S. prime time landscape remained dominated by shows with little respect for nursing, including ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Fox's House, each of which featured a slew of strong, expert physician characters providing all meaningful care, while nurses were handmaidens who did little more than fetch things. Fox's new sitcom The Mindy Project focused on quirky but skilled OB-GYN physicians, but also included nurse Morgan Tookers, a goofy ex-convict with little apparent health skill. On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, in a segment about re-integrating military medics into the civilian workforce, the host insisted that the medics were vastly overqualified to be school nurses and mocked school nurses as being all about "kickball" and "tummy aches." And the "naughty nurse" remained a staple of the entertainment industry, appearing in everything from a Dallas Mavericks Dancers routine to an actual job ad from a Swedish hospital. Despite these problems, we thank those responsible for the best media and encourage others to keep trying. see the full awards...

 

All squishy with compassion

The 2011 Truth About Nursing Awards

2011 Award winnersThe Truth About Nursing announces the ninth annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses! The year 2011 featured the impressive 14-part U.K. documentary 24 Hours in the ER, as well as strong nursing advocacy in the media from National Nurses United and many other nurses. TNT's HawthoRNe ended its three-season run, offering a few more portrayals of nursing skill and authority, despite some damaging suggestions that physicians really call the shots. And mainstream press sources published good pieces ranging from the New York Times obituary for nursing leader Joyce Clifford, to United Press International items about nurses' public health advocacy on issues like teen suicide, to a South African Press Association report noting that Zimbabwean nurses must sell fruit in order to make ends meet. On the other hand, the year also included the usual onslaught of damaging distortions from popular Hollywood products and the news media. The U.S. prime time landscape remained dominated by shows with little respect for nursing, including ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice and Fox's House, each of which featured a slew of strong, expert physician characters providing all meaningful care, while nurses were handmaidens who did little more than fetch things. And the "naughty nurse" remained a staple of the entertainment industry, appearing in everything from the new NBC sitcom Whitney to a Halloween-themed show at the family-oriented theme park Busch Gardens. The news media continued to issue "serious" articles about health care that assumed only physicians really matter, such as Harvard physician Jerome Groopman's New Yorker piece about NICUs, where, in reality, nurses take the lead. Even groups ostensibly trying to help nurses fell prey to damaging stereotypes, notably the unskilled angel. Johnson & Johnson released new television ads as part of its Campaign for Nursing's Future, but they relied heavily on emotional themes and did little to convey nurses' real skills. And Kaiser Permanente aired a radio ad for Nurses Week that was nonstop scut-work-saint imagery, as it extolled nurses for their "gargantuan heart[s] all squishy with compassion thumping away." Clearly, we have a long way to go. But we thank those responsible for the best media and encourage others to keep trying. see the full awards...

 

The 2010 Truth About Nursing Awards Rank Best and Worst Media Portrayals of Nursing

Nurse Jackie and Other Nurse TV Shows Among Best
Dr. Oz, Helen Mirren, and Mariah Carey on Worst ListHelen Mirren

January 6, 2011 -- The Truth About Nursing announces the eighth annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses. The year 2010 featured the continuation of Nurse Jackie and two other nurse-focused U.S television shows, but it also included countless damaging distortions from long-running hits like Grey's Anatomy and a new crop of "naughty nurse" imagery from sources ranging from Mariah Carey to Helen Mirren to Dr. Oz. more...

 

The Truth's Decade Awards Rank Best and Worst Media Portrayals of 2000-2009

Three New Nurse TV Shows Among "Best,"Truth About Nursing decade award winnersVeteran Hollywood Dramas Lead "Worst"

December 31, 2009 - The Truth About Nursing announces its list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses it saw between 2000 and 2009. The Truth's Decade Awards highlight media from a decade in which the world has faced a deadly nursing shortage fueled in significant part by poor public understanding of the profession. The three new nurse-focused shows that appeared on U.S. television in 2009, led by Showtime's Nurse Jackie and NBC's Mercy, made the "best" list despite their relatively recent appearance, because they have consistently presented millions of viewers with compelling portrayals of skilled nurses fighting for patients. Other "best" award recipients include the HBO film Angels in America, and nursing media advocates Diana Mason, Theresa Brown, and Suzanne Gordon. But on the whole, the media continues to undermine the profession. The "worst" list was led by the globally popular hospital dramas Grey's Anatomy (ABC) and House (Fox), which have portrayed nurses as low-skilled physician helpers who are irrelevant to serious health care. Others cited for notably poor portrayals of nurses include the American Medical Association, for its repeated but baseless public attacks on advanced practice nurses, the ABC News documentary-reality series Hopkins 24/7 and Hopkins, and the long-running NBC drama ER, though the Truth also gave that show a "most improved" award for better portrayals in its final years. Of course, any list that tries to cover this much ground is bound to be somewhat subjective--many other items could have appeared on these lists. But the Truth hopes the lists identify notable examples of portrayals of nursing at a time when public understanding of the profession is more important than ever. See our press release or our go straight to our full awards.

 

The 2009 Truth About Nursing Awards
Rank Best and Worst Media Portrayals of Nursing

Three new nurse TV shows lead "Best" list

December 29, 2009 -- The Truth About Nursing announces its annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses. This year featured the unprecedented appearance of three new nurse-focused shows on U.S. television, after no such show had appeared in more than 15 years. Showtime's Nurse Jackie, NBC's Mercy, and TNT's HawthoRNe each had flaws, but their relatively strong portrayal of skilled professional nurses advocating for patients placed them at the top of our "best" list. The far more popular veteran hospital dramas--ABC's Grey's Anatomy, Fox's House, and ABC's Private Practice--again led the "worst" list because of their continuing misportrayal of nurses as low-skilled physician helpers who are irrelevant to serious health care. The Awards highlight media portrayals from around the world that the Truth believes deserve attention, for better or worse, during the deadly nursing shortage. See the entire press release or go straight to the 2009 Truth About Nursing awards.

 

The 2008 Truth About Nursing Awards

Underscore issue of public misperceptions about nursing

February 14, 2009 -- The Truth About Nursing announces its annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses. Recipients of the Truth About Nursing Awards include NBC's ER, which aired one of the best portrayals in its final year on the air, as well as ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Fox's House, which were singled out for especially poor performance. The Awards highlight media portrayals from around the world that the nursing advocacy group believes deserve attention, for better or worse, during the deadly nursing shortage.
See the full press release. Or see the 2008 Truth About Nursing Awards....

 

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See prior years awards below:

2009 press release2009 awards

2008 press release2008 awards

2007 press release2007 awards

2006 press release2006 awards in full or summary version

2005 press release2005 awards in full or summary version

2004 awards in full

2003 awards in full or summary version

 

 

 

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