Join our Facebook group
Twitter bird

News on Nurses in the Media
April 2006 Archives

Advance for Nurses: "The Image of Nursing"

April 24, 2006 -- Sandy Keefe, RN, MSN, did a very good article on media images of nursing in this week's edition of Advance for Nurses. The piece relied heavily on Center advisory panel member Suzanne Gordon, author of Nursing Against the Odds, and Truth executive director Sandy Summers. Both Summers and Gordon expressed concern about the handmaiden portrayals (and non-portrayals) of nurses that dominate current U.S. television programming, as well as the continuing prevalence of unskilled angel images, which can infect even the messages of those trying to help nursing. See the article...

Center answers sexual harassment question in Advance for Nurses

April 24, 2006 -- Truth executive director Sandy Summers gave one of two answers to a question on sexual harassment in the most recent edition of Advance for Nurses. Her answer focused on what may cause patients to harass you, and how you might respond to them. Click here to see the Advance for Nurses piece (available free to subscribers). Or click here to see it as our latest FAQ.

Massachusetts Nurses Association Advertorials

April, 2006 -- As part of its efforts to address nurse staffing issues through legislation, the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) has developed "advertorials"--a cross between an advertisement and an editorial--which have recently run in the Boston Globe. The MNA's David Schildmeier, who sits on the Center's advisory panel, says: "The Globe now allows organizations to place what they call 'advertorials' on public interest issues on their Op Ed page." This is an interesting advocacy option for nurses and nursing organizations dealing with similar legislative issues. Contact David Schildmeier for information or see the advertorials.

Wigan Today: "Heart-throb hunks help patients relax"

April 22, 2006 -- Today Wigan Today (U.K.) ran an unsigned item about hospital nurses who have placed posters featuring male celebrities and nature scenes on the ceiling of a gynecological exam room. Leigh Infirmary staff nurse Rachel Lowe reportedly came up with the idea for the collage of posters, though the inclusion of hunky men was a suggestion from the patients themselves. This story does lend itself to the lighthearted tone the item employs. But it's also the kind of nursing intervention that can make a real difference for patients, as hospital nurses in Japan recently showed in research on the relaxing effect of music on the blood pressure of patients having catheter tests. We urge those involved in the ceiling collage to consider research exploring whether such images may actually help improve patient outcomes. more...

Boy, you have no faith in nursing

April 21, 2006 -- White Stripes leader Jack White, arguably the foremost rock music figure of his generation, has just given the Center for Nursing Advocacy a "Metaphorical Ignorance Award." This was a tit-for-tat response to the Golden Lamp Award we gave the band for one of the worst 2005 portrayals of nursing for its song "The Nurse," from the Grammy-winning album "Get Behind Me Satan." In our analysis, which we sent Mr. White along with the Golden Lamp award, we noted that his song "uses an unholy mix of nursing imagery, complete with maid and mother references, to make a seemingly banal complaint about betrayal that isn't worthy of White." White's counter-award cited Truth executive director Sandy Summers for her "outstanding inability to recognize metaphor." But we did not suggest that the song was about an actual nurse. We said that it reinforced enduring stereotypes by comparing nursing to romantic love, mothering, and housekeeping--things that do not require years of college-level science training. In short, White's use of metaphor was itself the problem. White also decried our "ridiculous sense of ownership of the word 'Nurse.'" But that's like defending a misogynist song by saying that female critics don't own the word "woman." White has the right to talk about nurses, and even literary devices, but we have the right to explain why his lyrics 'offend in every way,' as he put it in a prescient earlier song. White signed his award as "president" of the "Center for Lyrical Advocacy," with the tag line "Increasing public understanding of poetry," a mocking play on the Center's own tag line. But the stereotypes in "The Nurse" feed the nursing shortage that is taking lives worldwide. We thank Mr. White for taking our views seriously enough to attack us. But before he started struggling with his computer graphics program, he might at least have found out why we disliked his song. more...


The exchange between the Center and Jack White was covered in the Los Angeles Times in the article: "A Stripe nursing a grudge?" on April 30, 2006, and in the column "The Fix" on on April 26, 2006.

"Hey, did I ever thank you for all the help you've given me over the years?"

April 18, 2006 -- Tonight NBC's "Scrubs" showed nurse Carla Espinosa helping interns learn key aspects of clinical practice by catching their errors and teaching them how to avoid them. The subplot also presented Carla as wisely protecting the interns from the undue wrath of their attending physicians. And in one scene, Carla even expertly takes charge of handling a patient's seizure, with an intern following her lead (!). The show does seem to view Carla's acts more as a result of her fine personal qualities than as a professional nursing obligation. And though we ourselves have often said that nurses deserve credit for teaching physicians, given prevailing biases, this may suggest to many that nurses are important to the extent they help the physicians whose care really matters. This episode, like hundreds of other prime time episodes in the last decade, is all about training physicians--only. We have yet to see a media product suggest that physicians are important because they help train new nurses. Even so, the intern errors plotline is a rare and admirable effort by a network show to convey that nurses play an important role in health care and training. The episode, "His Story III," was written by Angela Nissel. more...

"[I]t is likely to be an inferior service"

April 15, 2006 -- Today This Is the West Country (UK) ran a short story by Laura Thorpe describing complaints by physicians about plans to end a local night nursing service because of security concerns. The piece, "GP raps plan to axe night nurses," is striking because it relies on the comments of one general practitioner (GP) making clear that nursing is distinct from medicine, and that physicians will not be able to provide the care in question as well as the nurses can. The piece might have explored more issues that would seem to be raised here, such as what the nurses think, and why nurses are less able to work alone at night than physicians. But we thank those responsible for this report telling readers that nurses have unique and valuable skills. more...

AP: "Widow Sues HCA, Says It Understaffs Nurses"

April 11, 2006 -- Today an unsigned Associated Press piece reported that a new lawsuit alleges that the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, HCA, sought to increase profits by "compromis[ing] patient care by deliberately understaffing registered nurses at its hospitals." The piece provides a good look at the basics of the Kansas lawsuit, which seeks class action status. It might have explored the overall context of the surrounding nursing crisis, in which nurse short-staffing has played a major role. Even so, we thank AP for the article. more...

"Stacking nurse numbers for a healthier society"

April 7, 2006 -- Today Business Day (South Africa) posted a fairly long article by Chantelle Benjamin headlined "Stacking nurse numbers for a healthier society." The piece is based primarily on a new World Health Organization report showing how important the number of health workers is to patient mortality, and how inequitably such workers are distributed around the world. The regions with the biggest health problems, especially Africa, have the fewest health workers. The piece does not really discuss nurses specifically, despite the good headline. But it does provide a striking picture of the crushing burden a lack of nurses and other health workers places on poor nations, as well as measures that could improve the situation. more...

Your rescue squad is too exhausted

April 6, 2006 -- Today a short unsigned piece in the Iceland Review had the headline: "Nurses claim poor conditions at National Hospital threaten patient safety." The piece focuses on a recent meeting at which the nurses said that understaffing was causing them "unbearable" stress and endangering their patients. The item does not really get into the causes of or potential solutions to the poor conditions. But we commend the nurses and the Iceland Review for highlighting the problem. more...

"It is not safe here anymore"

April 6, 2006 -- Today the SUN St. Kitts / Nevis ran a short piece by Corliss Smithen about the toll from a "recent spate of gun-related crimes," especially the effects on the nurses at Joseph N. France General Hospital. The nurses there now reportedly "fear for their lives" because of a lack of security to prevent shooters whose victims do not die from coming to the hospital to "finish the job." The brief piece highlights an important issue in nursing practice. Nurses spend far more time with such patients than anyone else, so they would naturally be most at risk, yet nurses and their concerns are often ignored, so such security concerns may not be taken seriously. We commend those responsible for this piece. more...

Family presence and the physician in charge

April 3, 2006 -- This week's issue of The New Yorker included an article by Jerome Groopman, M.D., about the trend toward allowing "family presence" during resuscitations. The piece ably summarizes some apparent pros and cons of allowing family members to witness attempts to revive loved ones, efforts that it notes can be scary and are usually unsuccessful (except in Hollywood). "Being There" recognizes that nurses and chaplains have played the leading role in advocating for family presence, often despite the objections of physicians. And to its credit, the piece briefly quotes two nurse experts, giving nursing some voice on the issue. The piece says that the growth in family presence reflects the decline in physicians' formerly absolute power over clinical settings. Yet the article itself seems to assume that physicians remain in charge. Accordingly, its focus is the extent to which physicians have accepted family presence. So the piece relies overwhelmingly on physician expert comment, and discusses a number of articles published in medical journals, but none from nursing journals. Perhaps as a result, Groopman seriously undervalues the nursing research showing the benefits of family presence. He presents trauma surgeon claims that family presence can distract code teams, and that nurses are more focused on emotional needs than quality clinical care. But he does not subject those claims to the same scrutiny as he does nurses' arguments that family presence aids in grieving. The piece does not explore measures that could reduce any adverse effects of family presence, misses the potential benefit patients themselves may derive from the practice, and fails to mention some less flattering potential reasons for opposition to it, such as lingering paternalism, fear of liability, and difficulty in seeing the big health care picture. more...

Nurse or leader: pick one

April 1, 2006 -- Today the Long Beach Press Telegram ran a piece about local nurse Judy Fix, who saved the life of an injured motorist at the roadside. That's good. Unfortunately, Kristopher Hanson's piece was headlined "Ex-nurse didn't forget," and it referred to Fix as an "administrator" at Memorial Medical Center and a "former nurse." In fact, Judy Fix is the hospital's Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services, managing 1,800 RNs. We doubt that many people would refer to Memorial's chief of medicine as an "ex-physician." What's the difference? In our view, it is the persistent view that only nurses who currently work at the bedside are really nurses, and that nurses cannot be leaders, scholars, or policy-makers without ceasing to be nurses. In other words, it is the view that nursing is not a serious, autonomous profession. more...


See our archives of news and action:

<<<More recent (2006 May) ----------------------------- (2006 March) Previous >>>

See range of archive dates

See current news page


to top

book cover, Saving lives

A Few Successes —
We Can Change the Media!

Educate the world that nurses save lives!

Save Lives. Be a Nurse. bumper sticker