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News on Nurses in the Media
January 2005 Archives

U.S. News & World Report: "Who Needs Doctors?"

January 31, 2005 - February 7, 2005 -- This week's issue of U.S. News & World Report features a massive special health report, including six significant articles and three related items. Its basic theme is that as the medical profession struggles with the pressures of managed care, insurance and generational shifts, other professionals are increasingly providing care that used to be the exclusive province of physicians. The report features an unusually positive--even glowing--look at the work of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). It also has a valuable discussion of some of the major challenges facing physicians today, though it appears to overstate medicine's distress. Some of the report gives readers the impression that APRNs are worthy of attention because they're doing things physicians do, whereas other nurses--the vast majority--remain engaged in what the report seems to view as the traditionally subservient and intellectually limited work of...nursing. In this sense, the report may actually reinforce regressive attitudes: nurses matter to the extent they can act like physicians. Thus, despite a little material on non-practitioner nurses and a short sidebar on the nursing shortage, the report does not convey that nursing as a whole is as vital and important to society's overall health as medicine is. more...

Undercover angels!

January 30, 2005 -- Today the Guardian (U.K.) web site posted a balanced piece by Jamie Doward, "Row erupts over secret filming of hospital filth," about a Channel 4 documentary based on the work of two nurses with hidden cameras who captured "appalling conditions" at two British hospitals, including poor sanitation and infection control practices in the care of elderly patients. Key issues raised by the documentary, "Dispatches: Undercover Angels," include the responsibility of nurses and other staff for the poor conditions, the appropriateness of the use of undercover cameras by caregivers on duty, and when the mass media will stop calling nurses "angels." more...

Take Action!
JibJab uses "naughty nurse" images to mock Clinton--and idea of national health care plan! Dude!

January 29, 2005 -- Internet video kings JibJab are currently marketing an extensive array of merchandise under the label "National Healthcare" featuring an image of President Clinton as a hospital patient with his arms around two provocatively dressed "naughty nurses" as he grabs their breasts. The cutting-edge message of the products is that Clinton likes to have sex with women who are not his wife. But this is not just a questionable reference to the former president's recent quadruple bypass surgery, his late mother's profession, or even the idea of a national health care system. It also perpetuates the "naughty nurse" stereotype that has long held nursing back, at a time of critical shortage, with the same young audience the profession needs to resolve the crisis that is threatening lives worldwide. Click here to read more and send our instant letter!

New York Times runs excellent Jane Brody column relying on nursing research to explore geriatric issues

January 25, 2005 -- Veteran health journalist Jane Brody's Personal Health column in today's New York Times relies heavily on a recent American Journal of Nursing (AJN) report by the University of South Carolina College of Nursing's Elaine J. Amella, RN, PhD, to address key issues people face as they age. The column, "Aging and Infirmity Are Twinned No Longer," stresses that many of the physical and mental problems commonly associated with aging are in fact preventable and/or treatable. The column is full of important practical information for our aging population, and it is an excellent example of journalistic reliance on nursing expertise. The Center commends Ms. Brody and the Times for the column. more...

Physician, Nurse, and Center debate merits of New York Times Banda Aceh story

January 20, 2005 -- On January 6th, the New York Times ran Jane Perlez' "For Many Tsunami Survivors, Battered Bodies, Few Choices." The lengthy front-page piece described care in Indonesia's Aceh province as being provided almost exclusively by physicians, and with its reliance solely on expert comment by physicians, the Center argued in an analysis that no one could possibly come away from it thinking nurses or other health care workers are doing anything of significance in the stricken province. See the Center's full analysis of the Times article here. Since our analysis appeared, we have received messages from several of the physicians profiled in Perlez' piece, and one of their nursing colleagues who was ignored in the piece. The messages took us to task in vigorous (and at times personal) terms; some suggested, inexplicably, that we had faulted the work of the nurses Perlez ignored. See two messages that reflect some understanding of our analysis, followed by our response.

Take Action!
The young quarterback

January 18, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "Scrubs," written by Mark Stegemann, presents nurses as wide-eyed subordinates whose job during codes is to call out a vital sign or two, then wait for heroic, all-knowing physicians to issue commands and save the day. The episode, directed by Ken Whittingham, is entitled "My Ocardial Infarction." It could have been worse; the nurses are shown to have some knowledge and some role in codes. On balance, it's not much of an improvement for "Scrubs," which has virtually ignored nursing this year, though it may be a step up for Stegemann, whose horrific 2003 episode "My Fifteen Seconds" purported to teach nurses that nursing was all about shutting up and following physician orders. Click here to read more and send a letter to "Scrubs"!

Meet the Fockers

January 18, 2005 -- "Meet the Fockers," the sequel to "Meet the Parents," has a scene in which demanding ex-CIA agent Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) cautions future son-in-law and nurse Gaylord Focker (Ben Stiller) not to "infantilize" Jack's infant grandson. The movie itself cheerfully fails to heed this advice, dominated as it is by puerile body humor and uninspired physical gags. This artistic decline seems to infect the film's limited treatment of nursing. Whereas the funny original made a serious effort to undermine Jack's "male nurse" stereotypes, the sequel shows Jack why it's OK to be a nurse generally, even if it is a job for the mediocre and unambitious. more...

"The robot should be able to do everything a nurse can," Dr. Treat said.

January 18, 2005 -- Today the New York Times ran Marc Santora's piece "For Surgery, an Automated Helping Hand," which describes the work of surgeon Dr. Michael Treat and his team, who are developing a robot called Penelope that Treat said will some day replace scrub nurses in operating rooms. This robot may well prove to be a helpful surgical tool, and we salute Dr. Treat and his team for their promising work. Unfortunately, the Times piece reflects Treat's own apparent undervaluation of what scrub nurses actually do, giving readers a misimpression of these critical OR professionals and a dangerously flawed vision of OR care. The article appears to reflect no input from the nurses whose work it ostensibly concerns. Since the article ran, both Marc Santora and Michael Treat have, commendably, told the Center that they regret the effect this article will likely have on public understanding of nursing, and they have vowed to publicly repair the damage done. more...

Go west, young nurse?

January 19, 2005 -- Today the Times of India published a short unsigned piece, "Nurses go west," describing an "exodus" of Indian nurses to foreign nations, especially the United States. One nursing college principal is quoted as saying that 80%--yes, 80%--of her students apply to recruiters for foreign nations. The brief piece fails to address the likely effects of this trend on Indian health, instead comparing it to the superficially similar trend in the migration of IT professionals--a trend that we do not believe is the result of a life-threatening shortage in developed nations, nor a cause of such a shortage in the developing nations from which they recruit. more...

Philadelphia nurse wins Center's Soap Nurse Sweepstakes!

January 16, 2005 -- The Center is thrilled to announce that non-stereotypical Philadelphia nurse Keynan Hobbs has won our Soap Nurse Sweepstakes for supplying the most examples of non-stereotypical soap opera nurse characters. The winning entry--which also happened to be the only entry--identified three nurse characters from the South African "edutainment" television series "Soul City" who do appear to be more than simply tired, regressive stereotypes. Mr. Hobbs, your Nurse Action Figure is on the way! more...

"Less than a minute away, Doctor."

January 16, 2005 -- The above words were the only ones spoken by any nurse character in tonight's one hour episode of Lifetime's "Strong Medicine," which focused on Rittenhouse Hospital's new Emergency Medical Services center, and which may serve as a pilot for a spinoff series called "Strong Medicine: First Response." The new series would center on a white paramedic and her adoptive sister, the black chief of trauma medicine. This episode was essentially "Strong Medicine" meets "Third Watch," and it offered a vision of emergency care in which only physicians and paramedics played roles of any significance. The episode was written by Tammy Ader and Lisa Melamed. more...

"Crisis as SA steadily loses qualified nursing"

January 14, 2005 -- Today South Africa's Star ran a good piece by Bruce Ventner describing the magnitude of that nation's "critical" nursing shortage. The piece reports that South Africa is "steadily losing" its best trained nurses, especially in rural areas, even as the growing population and expected increases in communicable diseases will mean a greater demand for skilled care. more...


January 12, 2005 -- Today Liberation reported that several hundred French school nurses had attended a rally in Paris organized by their union, SNICS-FSU, to protest what the nurses described as inadequate resources, salaries and recognition for their profession. The very short item, by Julie Lasterade, quoting SNICS secretary general Brigitte Le Chevert as saying that the nation's less than 7,000 school nurses are not enough to handle its apparently more than 60,000 schools, and that 5,000 more school nurses are needed to meet the needs of French children. See the article.

Are nurses doing anything important in Aceh province?

January 6, 2005 -- Today the New York Times ran Jane Perlez' "For Many Tsunami Survivors, Battered Bodies, Few Choices," which reports that many survivors of the recent tsunami are facing unnecessary amputation or even death because of a lack of emergency care in Aceh, Indonesia. Given the lengthy piece's almost universal descriptions of care as being provided solely by physicians, and its reliance solely on expert comment by physicians, no one could possibly come away from it thinking nurses or other health care workers are doing anything of significance in the stricken province. The piece appears on the Times' front page, above the fold. more...

Take Action!
Bras 'n Stereotypes 'n Things

January 5, 2005 -- Australian nurses have succeeded in ending advertising for a "naughty nurse" outfit sold by major retailer Bras 'n Things. However, the product remains for sale in the lingerie chain's 150+ stores in Australia and New Zealand, even though the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has reportedly called for a boycott of the stores unless the outfit is "dropped." The unsigned January 4 piece "Poster makes nurses ill" in the Herald Sun tells the basic story prior to the pulling of the ads, and gets the nurses' point across, though it also includes some condescending description of them. The Center salutes Australian nurses, especially the Australian Nursing Federation, for this campaign. We urge Bras 'n Things to retire the naughty nurse item. Click here to read more and send a letter to Bras 'n Things!


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