The Nursing Television Project
When the Truth's leaders first began our work to improve public understanding of nursing, we thought that getting a television drama about nurses on network television would be a major step toward resolving nursing's image problems. We even wrote a script for a show, entitled Human, which you can read here. We do believe that the three nurse-focused U.S. shows that debuted in 2009, particularly Nurse Jackie, have been positive for nursing. And we would still very much like to get a nurse-focused show on one of the major U.S. networks, particularly since none to date has avoided the handmaiden stereotype or fully conveyed nursing expertise. But after working to improve nursing's media image since 2001, we do not view this as one of the most urgent priorities now in terms of about what would be the most cost-effective way to change how people think about nursing.
Creating a documentary about nursing could also be very helpful. However, there are already several documentaries that are very good, or at least that include very good segments:
Nursing Diaries (2004)
24 Hours in A&E (2011-2013)
These documentaries no doubt took a lot of time and resources to make, but unfortunately none reached a very big audience in the U.S. The first two of five episodes of Nurses were aired across from Super Bowl XXXV, on January 28, 2001 on the Discovery Health Channel. That programming decision speaks volumes about the level of interest the U.S. television industry believes the public has in real-life nursing (as well as its perception that men would have especially little interest). And we cannot imagine that more than a handful of people watched the show.
Creating a television show is also a speculative proposition. Though we could in theory control what the product looked like, we could not control whether it would ever be produced or aired, or how long it would stay on the air. The vast majority of planned television shows never reach the air, and most that do reach the air fail. Shows that do air might be broadcast across from American Idol, as happened with the generally good NBC show Mercy when Idol was near the height of its popularity in 2009-2010.
Meanwhile, current Hollywood programming goes on creating images of nursing that are full of powerful stereotypes. A positive documentary or drama about nursing that few watch is unlikely to counter these stereotypes effectively. We think that we need to find ways to reach Hollywood writers directly to try to change the stereotypes and inaccuracies they continue to put forward--such as the plan we laid out in our Hollywood Project.
In sum, we would love to pursue our television drama project, but at this time we believe it is a higher priority to pursue the other avenues we have planned to change how the world thinks about nursing.