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News on Nurses in the Media
December 2006 Archives

People's Daily Online: "Every 2,000 Beijingers to have a community nurse by 2008"

December 25, 2006 -- Today People's Daily Online posted a Xinhua news agency item reporting that the city of Beijing plans to train enough community nurses that every 2,000 residents will have one in 2008. Because nurses are well-qualified to improve health through preventative care and health management, this program could be a cost-effective way to improve community health. more...

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"Italian nurses are better-looking...These [U.S.] ones scare me a bit. Don't even think about leaving me alone at night with one of them."

December 22, 2006 -- These are the reported comments of Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Opposition leader, former Prime Minister (2001-2006), and billionaire media tycoon, on December 22, 2006, analyzing the care he was receiving at the Cleveland Clinic while receiving a pacemaker. We know what you're thinking: what a nice way for Mr. Berlusconi (right) to say "thank you" to the skilled U.S. nurses who'd been keeping him alive, and to demonstrate his diplomatic skills. But our problem is not so much with the former Prime Minister's views on whether one group of nurses is more attractive than another. And we realize that Mr. Berlusconi's latter comments are an attempt at humor. But we are troubled by a world in which those at the very pinnacle of the governmental, corporate, and media sectors--e.g., Mr. Berlusconi--would even suggest that the measure of a nurse is her physical appearance. His comment about being left alone at night suggests that he may also believe that it is a nurse's job to provide sex to patients. Or maybe he just thinks U.S. nurses are such monsters that they might attack him, rather than simply making the expected nursing sex unpleasant. Whichever it is, it seems that Mr. Berlusconi does not understand that nurses are not models or sex workers. Instead, they are health professionals with years of college-level science training whose job it is to keep patients alive 24/7. Had the esteemed Cleveland Clinic obliged Mr. Berlusconi by keeping all the nurses away from him at night, he could well have died. Of course, if his attitudes prevail, he and everyone else may soon find out what it's like to get no skilled nursing care.

Click here to send a letter to Silvio Berlusconi!

House, R.N.

December 19, 2006 -- Today The New York Times ran "Is There a Barber in the House?", a "Cases" item by Larry Zaroff, M.D., and Jonathan Zaroff, M.D. The piece tells how an "experienced nurse" with "good sense and a good sense of smell" had "come to the rescue" by making the "correct diagnosis" of a life-threatening illness." The nurse had noted that the patient had a strange odor, coming mainly from her hair. The odor turned out to be poisoning from organophosphate insecticide, stemming from a friend's washing of the patient's hair with a bottle she thought was shampoo. The patient recovered after her head was shaved. The piece is a laudable example of physicians recognizing the key role nurses can play in diagnosis. Of course, the nurse's work was not just the result of "experience," "sense," and a "sensitive nose," but of nursing education, skill and the profession's holistic focus. more...

Coor Slight

December 2006 -- After five months of effort, we have persuaded Colorado brewer Coors to stop using "naughty nurse" imagery in its "Coors Light Trauma Tour." We thank the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, especially member Laurie Spooner, for important help in this effort. The Trauma Tour has been an ongoing marketing campaign of Coors Canada. It has included television and other advertising, sponsorship of extreme sports events, and events at clubs and bars. The nursing component has featured models dressed in "naughty nurse" outfits, and some publicity has actually used the term "naughty nurse." It seems that the "nurses" would not only help the young male target demographic through risky sports, but also cause some "trauma" of their own by interacting closely with the guys. Because the "naughty nurse" stereotype reinforces the undervaluation and gender segregation of nursing, which in turn fuels the real "trauma" of the nursing shortage, we urged Coors to rethink the use of such "nurses" in its marketing. The company's U.S. headquarters was very responsive to our concerns, stressing that Coors had vowed to stop using such imagery after our successful campaign about its naughty nurse Zima commercial that aired in 2002. Ultimately, the company's Canadian division was persuaded to stop using naughty nurse imagery in the Trauma Tour. more...

Getting Close

December 19, 2006 -- Yesterday, John McPherson's "Close to Home" comic showed an EMT giving a stretcher-bound patient a choice: "Mercy Hospital" was "20 minutes closer," but the nurses at "Saratoga Hospital" were "really hot." We get that it's a "joke." But it still suggests that the main thing about nurses is their physical beauty, reinforcing a tenacious stereotype of brainless female sexuality. Today the Post-Star of Glen Falls, NY, ran a fair piece by Charles Fiegl about the Center's objections, which include that the comic feeds a poor overall media image that impedes nurses' efforts to get adequate resources. Editor and Publisher (E&P) covered the Post-Star's article with today's piece "Comic's Comment About Nurses Stirs Big Reaction." E&P noted that "Close to Home" appears in about 700 newspapers. The Post-Star reported that McPherson based the comic on his desire to impress the nurses at the actual nearby Saratoga Hospital. One nurse from that hospital reportedly said she and her colleagues really are "very hot," which is "how we get our patients to come to Saratoga," though she added that the nurses there "also provide great care." Given this striking expression of self-respect, we know an Italian political leader who might well consider Saratoga for his next cardiac procedure. more...

Enter the AJN's 2007 Faces of Caring: Nurses at Work photography contest!

December 2006 -- Are you the next Dorothea Lange? The American Journal of Nursing's new photo contest encourages all to take photos of nurses at work, to help highlight the important work of nursing. It is co-sponsored by the New York University College of Nursing, with support from the Beatrice Renfield Foundation. First prize is $2000, 2nd prize is $1500, and 3rd prize is $1000. Winning photos will appear in a special exhibition and on the covers of AJN. Submission deadline: March 1, 2007. For information or an application, contact Ruke Hidraj at or 646-674-6609. See our review of the 2005 exhibit.

"Rural doctors lament nurse shortage"

December 13, 2006 -- Today the Newcastle (New South Wales) section of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) site reported that a rural physician group says the "lack of new nursing recruits is jeopardising the health of patients at Scone Hospital." The Rural Doctors Association (RDA) notes that new nursing recruits are not going to rural areas, a problem it links to a lack of government resources for rural health. We commend the ABC for the report, and the RDA physicians for advocating for better nurse staffing on their patients' behalf. more...

"Swaziland is dying. Will the last nurse on duty please turn off the lights?"

December 11, 2006 -- Recent articles by IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) highlight the deadly interaction between the HIV/AIDS crisis and the lack of resources for nurses in sub-Saharan Africa. "Malawi: Health worker shortage a challenge to AIDS treatment," posted on November 17, describes how that nation's acute shortage of nurses and other key health staff impedes ambitious efforts to expand anti-retroviral treatment. Today's "Swaziland: Nurses fleeing the HIV/AIDS frontline" focuses more on the nursing shortage. In Swaziland, the shortage reportedly stems from a combination of emigration for better opportunities and attrition caused by HIV/AIDS itself--an estimated 38% of the nation's remaining public and mission sector nurses are HIV positive. Both pieces effectively show how the AIDS crisis and the nursing shortage exacerbate each other. We thank IRIN for this coverage. more...

The Nobel Prize in Nursing

December 8, 2006 -- Today The Baltimore Sun published "Nurses' achievements merit international recognition," an op-ed by Columbia University nursing professor Kristine Gebbie and Center for Nursing Advocacy executive director Sandy Summers. The op-ed argues that nurses deserve a Nobel Prize or comparable annual award because their leaders have long been at the forefront of health research and clinical practice. They have changed the world by reinventing health systems, pioneering new therapies, and improving community health, from AIDS treatment to neonatal care to pain management. Establishing such a prize would shine a light on the profession's life-saving achievements. It would also help show how important it is that nursing get the clinical and educational resources it needs to overcome the global nursing shortage. The publication of this piece is the culmination of significant effort by the Center. We thank The Baltimore Sun for its openness to new ideas on nursing, and its commitment to publishing the op-ed. And we urge you to read it, think about it, and show it to others. Thank you! See the op-ed...

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Infirmières Sans Frontières

December 3, 2006 -- Recently, the Nobel Prize-winning Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) launched a U.S. tour of an exhibit highlighting the global aid group's vital work in conflict zones. "A Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City" features MSF aid workers guiding visitors through a model of actual relief facilities. The exhibit explains the challenges MSF faces in providing care, nutrition, and decent living conditions. This is a perfect time to thank the group for its admirable work--and to note that its continuing use of the name "Doctors Without Borders" sends an inaccurate message about who is doing that work. We understand nurses are the most numerous health professionals among MSF workers, and they play a central role in the group's efforts. Yet when journalist Suzanne Gordon suggested to a physician MSF leader that the group consider adopting a name that did not slight its nurses, the leader said that she hoped MSF would never be so "stupid" as to do so. The Center has tried to discuss the matter with MSF for two months, but we have gotten no real response. The group's name seems to reflect the undervaluation of nursing that is undermining health worldwide, particularly in the developing nations MSF tries to help. We doubt that MSF would suffer by phasing in a similar name, like "Soins Sans Frontières" ("Health Care Without Borders"). We urge MSF to give its own nurses the credit they deserve--and that nurses everywhere need to help their patients. Read more or go straight to our letter-writing campaign!

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