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News on Nurses in the Media
October 2005 Archives

CBS MarketWatch: Nursing a good field for "lower-skilled workers" with "no college"

October 27, 2005 -- Today CBS MarketWatch posted a piece by Andrea Coombes explaining that some "good fields," including nursing, do not require a bachelor's degree. Although most of the piece is fair enough as far as nursing goes--it stresses that nursing training is competitive and demanding--the original headline suggests that the listed fields require "no college" and are for "lower-skilled workers." This language does not provide an accurate picture of nursing. Although we acknowledge the difficulty of describing a field whose members may have some three to ten years of college-level education, we urge Ms. Coombes and CBS MarketWatch to be more careful in the future. more...

As I Lay Dying

October 23-26, 2005 -- This week the Boston Globe ran Scott Allen's major four-part special report, "Critical Care: The Making of an ICU Nurse." We understand that the report was the result of persistent efforts by Massachusetts General Hospital to persuade the paper to help increase public understanding of the expertise of its nurses. Allen's report does that. It provides an in-depth chronicle of the intense eight-month ICU training of new nurse Julia Zelixon by 20-year veteran nurse M.J. Pender. Michele McDonald's photographs give a sense of the focus required of the nurses, and the staggering amount of technology they manage. The piece actually shows the primacy of nursing care for ICU patients, and reveals the extent to which resident physicians rely on the nurses' expertise. Despite some focus on patient advocacy, at some points the report does not reflect a full grasp of nursing autonomy. The piece incorrectly suggests that nursing is essentially a subset of medicine, and that physicians have the final say on all aspects of care. But readers who make it through all four parts get an unusually vivid sense of the complexity and importance of highly skilled nursing in a major hospital, with a few hints of the stress that the nursing crisis has put on such critical health systems. We commend Mr. Allen, Ms. McDonald, the Globe, and Mass. General for their impressive work. more...

"Grey's Anatomy" doesn't care about nurse people

October 23, 2005 -- I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a nurse, it says, "she's naughty." You see a physician, it says, "she's saving lives." Tonight's episode of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" marked an unwelcome return to series creator Shonda Rhimes' own writing about nurses. The popular series debuted earlier this year with Rhimes-penned episodes that featured female surgical interns furious that one of them had been compared to a nurse. Now Rhimes is back with more faux-feminist contempt. Tonight's episode, seen by 18.4 million people, suggested that naughty nurse video p*ornography was a viable pain management tool. It even featured tough intern Cristina Yang reluctantly composing a verbal naughty nurse scenario for an afflicted man when a storm knocked out the hospital's television system. Regardless of whether such female-focused p*orn is misogynous, as Yang suggests at one point, naughty nurse imagery like that this episode offers up mainly for laughs continues to be a factor in the devaluation of nursing. Indeed, in this season "Grey's Anatomy" nurses seem to pop up mainly as degraded tools in the show's ongoing sex farce (fulfilling sex stereotypes, spreading STD's, getting dumped for more attractive physicians), while the heroic, brilliant physicians provide all important care. In this episode, we did not see a nurse character utter a single line. more...

Peyton Place

October 20, 2005 -- The October 6 and 13 episodes of NBC's "ER" introduced hardcore ED nurse manager Eve Peyton (Kristen Johnston). Peyton is the first real nurse manager the show has portrayed in any depth since the 1990's, and perhaps the most clinically expert nurse character to ever appear on a major prime time U.S. show. These episodes present her as a kind of nurse manager / clinical nurse specialist hybrid, a smoother, funnier Margaret Houlihan who takes the ED nursing staff firmly in hand and injects herself into their care, doling out advice, sending nurses here and there, stepping in when she feels needed, and not being shy about telling senior physicians how they're screwing up. The show stresses Peyton's professionalism and autonomy. It's funny to watch the other characters react, at times speechless, as "ER" tries to bring its audience somewhat up to speed with features of nursing that are common in the real world. However, the show still indicates that Peyton reports to chief of medicine Kerry Weaver, rather than upper level nurse managers. Peyton's management style does not seem ideal, and the other characters at first regard her as something of a "bitch." But given the show's tradition of annoying physician managers, we are not too concerned yet. Johnston does not appear in the show's credits, which would signal that Peyton was a major character. And we are concerned that in her absence, the show would likely revert to its overwhelmingly physician-centric depiction of care, as tonight's Peyton-free episode suggested. Indeed, even with Peyton, the physician characters still dominate. Even so, we thank episode writers David Zabel ("The Man With No Name") and R. Scott Gemmill ("Blame It on the Rain") for these serious efforts to address some of the nursing issues that the Center has been raising with the show for years. more...

Support Staff, RN, MSN, PNP

October 2005 -- This month's Child magazine includes a lengthy piece about the results of a large reader survey, Sandra Y. Lee's "What Makes a Great Pediatrician." Sadly, the story reflects the magazine's physician-centric vision of health care and its overall lack of respect for nurses. In particular, the piece effectively reinforces the apparent views of many survey respondents that pediatric nurse practitioners (NPs) are "support staff" who perform routine tasks and act as marginal fill-in personnel for pediatricians. more...

The Benghazi Six

October 17, 2005 -- Today a fairly good International Herald Tribune piece by Brian Knowlton reported that U.S. President George Bush has asked the Libyan government to release five Bulgarian nurses who, along with a Palestinian physician, face imminent execution for allegedly intentionally infecting over 400 Libyan children with the HIV virus. The New York Times and Bulgaria's Focus News English also covered the story. As the press pieces note, international health experts have found that the tragic infections were due to poor sanitation practice at the hospital, not intentional acts by these caregivers. The prisoners' plight has been the subject of protests by the European Commission and the U.S. State Department. Major human rights organizations and health care groups, including the American Nurses Association and Physicians for Human Rights, have called for their release after seven years of captivity that has allegedly included torture. If nurses' close contacts with patients subject them to criminal prosecution and even execution for what seem to be systemic health care problems, nurses will not just be unable to act as patient advocates, but may be deterred from serving vulnerable populations and having the kind of patient interactions that are critical to good outcomes. The Center thanks the press for its coverage and President Bush for his support, and we urge supporters to add their voices to those calling for the release of all six prisoners. read more and click here to send a letter to free the Bulgarian Nurses!

"I'm here to do your bidding, Dr. Thornton."

October 16, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of Lifetime's "Strong Medicine" included another apparent effort by writers Darin Goldberg and Shelley Meals to highlight the skills of lone major nurse character Peter Riggs. Peter is a nurse-midwife, though he acted as an ED nurse here. One subplot tonight explored power issues between Peter and resident Kayla Thornton, also his girlfriend, in the aftermath of their ED care for a teen who dies of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The episode does manage to show that Peter has significant knowledge and the initiative to act on it to save the lives of others who are at-risk. But it also confirms that at the end of the day, physicians like Kayla are in charge. Elsewhere in the episode, nurses are portrayed, as usual, as marginally skilled physician subordinates who don't talk to patients or families, while physicians provide all important care. more...

Please donate to help the Earthquake victims

October 2005 -- The earthquake victims in Pakistan and India who have been devastated by the earthquake need our help. Aid organizations need funds to supply water, food, blankets, tents and health care to the areas where many remain injured, homeless, thirsty and hungry. Please be as generous as possible to help all of our patients worldwide. Thank you. We suggest making donations to Oxfam, Care or Save the Children.

"Patients want pretty, skirt-clad nurses!"

October 4, 2005 -- Today the Hindustan Times (India) site posted a short item reporting that a hospital in Firule, Croatia had ordered its nurses to "go back to wearing skirts instead of trousers after complaints from patients." In the item, based on an Ananova piece, the hospital director was quoted as noting that the skirts' length, "be they mini skirts or otherwise," is up to the nurses. The Hindustan Times item jacked up the relatively neutral Ananova piece with suggestions that "pretty nurses" actually do "bring a cheer to even the most woefully ill patients." more...

TAGGED: Gillette pulls lusty-nurse fever ad

October 3, 2005 -- Today, in response to a Center campaign, the Gillette Company said that it will pull a "naughty nurse" television ad for TAG Body Spray, though it may take a week for the ad to leave the air. More than 600 Center supporters wrote to Gillette executives to protest the ad (at right), which featured a provocatively dressed "nurse" who developed "highly contagious lusty-nurse fever" and climbed into bed with a male patient wearing the product. We are pleased that the ad will be removed, and we thank Gillette for responding to nurses' concerns. However, we understand that the company has made no plans to repair the damage done by the ad perpetuating this damaging stereotype. So we ask supporters to thank Gillette, but also to urge the Fortune 500 company to take concrete steps to make amends to the nursing profession. more...


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