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News on Nurses in the Media
August 2006 Archives

Emma Peel

August 29, 2006 -- Today a brief United Press International item reported that a California advocacy group has created a computer game called "Nurse Avenger." The game aims to build support among "20-somethings" for a state universal health care bill. Game players try to save the state billions by fighting "mobster-styled insurance company and HMO representatives trying to kill a patient in a hospital bed." For a "special attack" on the HMO reps, players click on the icon of the "Nurse Avenger," a figure the piece describes as a "superhero." We're uncomfortable with the game's central activity: shooting the evil HMO reps. But it does present nurses as fighters protecting patients from the threats of the managed care era. more...

"Busy nurses 'leave elderly to starve'"

August 29, 2006 -- Today the Telegraph (U.K.) site posted a piece by Celia Hall reporting that a charity had claimed some elderly hospital patients in the U.K. are starving because nurses do not have time to help them eat. Age Concern's report said that most older hospital patients were at risk of malnutrition, and that 90% of nurses said they sometimes did not have time to help patients eat. To its credit, the Telegraph includes reaction from a Royal College of Nursing advisor, who says the report underlines how serious nurse short-staffing has become. Indeed, recent U.S. research suggests that such care is just one type of activity nurses may feel forced to omit in a desperately understaffed environment. Even more difficult issues the piece does not explore include the correct priorities of nurses who must choose between helping an elderly patient eat and other vital care. more...

Residency status

August 28, 2006 -- Today the Belleville News-Democrat (Illinois) ran a generally good piece by Scott Wuerz about a new nurse training program that has reportedly helped a local hospital retain more first year nurses. The article says that St. Elizabeth's Hospital has hired Los Angeles nonprofit Versant to implement an 18-week program that includes mentoring, classroom work, and training in different areas of the hospital. The piece could have been clearer in some respects. But it ably explains some of the difficulty of the first year of nursing practice, and some of what the new program does to address that. While the program is not as extensive as physician residencies, we are encouraged to see this recognition that nursing is difficult and important enough to merit serious clinical training following graduation. more...

"Are we surprised by the increase of witchdoctors who sacrifice our children?"

August 24, 2006 -- Today the New Vision site (Uganda) posted "Why does MUK admit few nursing students?" by O.E. Bukabeeba. Bukabeeba is the "former secretary for mass mobilisation, Mbarara District." The opinion piece objects to the recent admission of only 18 students to study nursing at Makerere University, and it argues forcefully for more resources for nursing education. Bukabeeba wants Uganda to train more nurses not just to address the nation's own desperate health care situation, but also to exploit the huge market for nurses in developed nations, which could increase much-needed foreign remittances. Whether those goals fit easily together is an open question. more...

Nurses are No. male sexual fantasies

August 24, 2006 -- Today The Age (Melbourne) ran an unsigned Agence France Presse item headlined "Nurses and firemen top fantasy poll." It reports that a new poll has found that 54% of British men have sexual fantasies about nurses. No other profession hit the 50% mark for male or female fantasizers, though 47% of women apparently dream about "firemen." The results seem to show that nursing leads a list of traditionally female, service-oriented jobs about which men fantasize. That list contrasts sharply with the objects of popular female fantasies, namely traditionally male jobs associated with heroism and/or socioeconomic power, including medicine. The poll underlines why nursing remains in the midst of a life-threatening global shortage--daunting professional difficulty and hypersexualized social contempt is hardly a winning combination. We would urge the media to stop relying so heavily on naughty nurse imagery, if we weren't so concerned that there's no other way to sell beer and stuff to male consumers. more...

Improving circulation

August 22, 2006 -- Today the Mid-Hudson News Network site reported that New York Governor George Pataki had vetoed a bill that would have required a circulating nurse to be present during surgeries in the state. The short item consists almost entirely of comment from the bill's author, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, a nurse. Gunther does a good job of explaining the specific things OR nurses do to coordinate surgical activities and advocate for patients. Her bill seems to present a variation on the unit-based nurse:patient staffing ratios enacted in California, since it links nurse staffing to a specific activity, the operation. Presumably this reflects the distinct nature of the OR, where patients do not stay 24/7. more...

Emmys protest postponed

August 18, 2006 -- We have decided to postpone our Emmy Awards protest until next year, which will give us more time to build support for it in the Los Angeles area. We had difficulty generating enough interest for a really effective in-person event in the short time available this year. But with your help in spreading the word about Hollywood's effect on nursing, we hope to have a powerful event next year. We must speak truth to power. We must let those who create the world's most influential images of nursing know how important it is that they start portraying the profession fairly and accurately. We thank those who pledged their support for this year's protest, and we hope that you will join us in 2007. In the meantime, please join our latest "House" and "Grey's Anatomy" campaigns.

Quick! To the Breathmobile!

August 16, 2006 -- Today WYPR, the Baltimore National Public Radio affiliate, had a very good report by Taunya English about the Breathmobile. The Breathmobile is a nurse-staffed "asthma and allergy clinic on wheels" that visits the city's elementary schools. The piece relies on audio quotes from two nurses. It explains how valuable the program is in keeping asthmatic kids in school and out of the ED. The report might have briefly explored the relation of the Breathmobile to school nurses. To what extent could school nurses help these kids manage their asthma if they weren't so short-staffed? But the piece does bring out important specifics about the clinic nurses' holistic care. We commend Ms. English and WYPR. more...

Columbus Discovers America

August 15, 2006 -- Today the Forbes site posted an unsigned HealthDay News piece, "Heart Failure Patients Fare Better With Follow-Up Nursing Care." The article reports that a new study shows that "patients who get follow-up care from nurses have fewer hospitalizations and function better than patients who receive what is considered usual care." The patients studied were drawn from "ambulatory practices at Harlem hospitals." We commend those responsible for this helpful coverage of the value of nursing--except that readers are not really told that it is nursing. Unfortunately, the piece consults no nurses, relying solely on an economist and a physician who were study co-authors, and one outside physician expert. We realize that the medical school-based study appears to have no nurse authors, a sad comment in itself. But that together with the failure to consult any nurses for the press account suggests that they are they are just another piece of helpful medical equipment, rather than knowledgeable professionals. It implies that what the nurses are doing here is just carrying out physician "orders." Of course, this is not the first time we have seen the basic idea here--that holistic, preventative care improves outcomes--become news when respected professionals like physicians embrace it, even though it has been a core principle of nursing for many decades. more...

"Scarce nurses called key to AIDS fight"

August 13, 2006 -- Today the The London Free Press (Canada) ran a piece by Sheryl Ubelacker about comments at Toronto's International AIDS Conference on nurses in AIDS care. The short, helpful article was based on speeches at the International Nurses Forum by Tony Clement, the Canadian Health Minister, and Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for AIDS in Africa. They stressed that nurses are essential to effective AIDS treatment around the world. But nursing shortages are threatening that treatment, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. There, the disease has disabled other health providers, and nurses must assume even more duties. One ironic note: Clement said that the world needed nurses' "dialogue and debate" on AIDS, and the piece stated that nurses' "voices too often go unheard." Yet the piece itself did not include a word from any nurse. more...

Seeing a Nurse Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health

August 12, 2006 -- Today some sites posted an unsigned UPI piece about new research on the important role nurses can play in helping patients stop smoking. The piece, "Nurses can help patients quit smoking," is extremely short. But it is an example of very good press coverage of nursing research, underlining the key contributions nurses make in addressing one of the most urgent global health problems. more...

Showing us the money

August 6, 2006 -- Today the Quad-Cities Online site posted a short but very good story by Dawn Neuses about occupational health nurse Pam Rudsell, who works for the City of Moline (Illinois). "City of Moline saves thousands with on-site 'Nurse Pam'" focuses on the money Rudsell saves the city. She provides a wide range of wellness care, including screenings, vaccinations, and preventative education, as well as handling most workers compensation visits. The piece demonstrates the inherent value of a public health nurse practicing in a workplace setting. It is marred slightly by the assumption that care beyond Rudsell's expertise necessarily requires a physician, rather than Rudsell's nurse practitioner colleagues. But the piece shows readers why public health nurses deserve their support. This is a critical message at a time when many are struggling for funding. We encourage all nurses to use this kind of cost-benefit analysis to show how their work saves lives and money. more...

Family presence leader discusses Center analysis of New Yorker article

August 2006--Recently the Center received a powerful letter from Rev. Hank Post about our piece on the April New Yorker article on family presence, which was written by Dr. Jerome Groopman. Rev. Post is the Foote Hospital (Michigan) chaplain who has played a critical role in efforts to promote and assess the impact of family presence during resuscitations. His letter, which also discusses the key role of nurses in making family presence work, appears at this link...

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