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News on Nurses in the Media
June 2006 Archives


June 29, 2006 -- Many recent articles have addressed the flow of nurses from developing nations to the United States, in the context of the proposed easing of entry restrictions in the immigration bill that passed the Senate in May. On May 24, The New York Times ran Celia Dugger's "U.S. Plan to Lure Nurses May Hurt Poor Nations." This piece is a very strong, front-page examination of the state of nurse immigration to the United States, and the likely effects of eliminating the current restrictions. Dugger carefully presents different sides of the debate, citing the remittances the immigrating nurses send back home and the devastating blow to the home nations' health resources, including a weakened ability to fight diseases like AIDS. The Times followed up with a half-baked May 27 editorial, "For Want of a Nurse." For all its flaws--the most glaring being the suggestion that the generation of nurses now nearing retirement chose the profession solely because they did not want to teach--the editorial does urge the nation to start solving its nursing shortage "on its own," particularly by spending more on nursing education. Coverage of nurse emigration after the Senate bill's passage suggests that it would likely increase if the bill became law. Nida Mariam's June 18 piece in Daily News & Analysis (Mumbai, India), "City wakes up to nurse exodus," suggests that easing the U.S. restrictions would contribute to an already severe nursing shortage in India. There, many new nursing school graduates head abroad and hospitals suffer from extreme short staffing. Today the CNN site posted a fairly good unsigned Associated Press piece, "Nurses lead Kenyan brain drain." It highlights the immigration to the U.S. of Kenyan nurses who are desperate to support their families. And it suggests that easing the restrictions would have a real impact in Africa, not just in the Asian nations from which most nurse immigrants have traditionally come. more...

Hindustan Times: "No option but to nurse themselves"

June 29, 2006 -- Today the Hindustan Times ran a short piece by Surya Agarwal about the ill effects of a nursing strike on patients and physicians at King George's Medical University hospital (KGMU). The piece seems likely to create bad feeling toward the nurses--it makes no reference to why they are striking, or whether they made any effort to provide continuity of care. And some parts suggest that physicians (or even patients) could provide the nursing care if they only had the time and energy. Other parts do seem to suggest that nurses have unique skills, and that they cannot be replaced. more...

A time to dance, a time to mourn

June 28, 2006 -- The Belfast Telegraph has recently run good articles highlighting positive and negative aspects of nursing in Northern Ireland today. On May 25, the Telegraph published Nigel Gould's "Half our nurses quit in the last 10 years; Health chiefs alarmed as 10,000 left their jobs." Gould's piece reports that shockingly high numbers of nurses have recently left the National Health Service in the province, despite record numbers of new recruits from overseas. The piece links the exodus to poor working conditions, especially short staffing. On the other hand, today the paper published Jane Bell's "I'm not a 'male nurse' - I'm a nurse and proud of it," which tells the story of pioneering "alcohol liaison nurse" Gary Doherty. Doherty won the Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Award for his work handling endemic alcohol-related problems at a north Belfast hospital. Bell's piece shows how critical the work of Doherty's team is not only in improving patient outcomes and cutting costs, but in reducing alcohol-fueled attacks against nurses. The piece uses Doherty's gender as a hook, but it generally keeps the focus on his work. We thank the Telegraph, which has also covered the RCN award in past years, though not at anywhere near the length of this piece. more...

Boy Division

June 28, 2006 -- Today the Southeast Missourian ran a short piece by Scott Moyers headlined "Camp urges males to consider career in nursing." It describes a small local nursing camp designed to interest male high school students in the profession, which remains less than 10% male despite a critical shortage. The article includes a number of positive elements to encourage those who (like the Center) would like to see far more men in nursing. The piece also shows how difficult it is to address the issue without stumbling into unfortunate assumptions about gender and nursing. more...

Project Salud

June 26, 2006 -- Recent Associated Press pieces have highlighted the growing roles nurse practitioners play in primary care in the United States. Today, the CNN site posted an unsigned AP piece headlined "The nurse is in: Nurse practitioners filling void in primary care." The Pennsylvania-based article explores how NPs have moved into a variety of primary care roles as fewer physicians have chosen to do so. One such role is that of nurse-midwives, whose care a May 11 AP piece examines. "Midwives offer women special deliveries" was posted on the Boston Globe site, and it focuses on Connecticut midwifery practices. The article, by Amanda Cuda, details some ways in which midwives' care of pregnant women differs from that of physicians. Both pieces give readers a sense of the growth in NP practice and some of the important benefits NPs provide, though both could have done more to explain how highly skilled NPs are, and the tangible effects their care has on patient outcomes, particularly for underserved populations. more...

A "major paradigm shift"

June 12, 2006 -- Today The Daily Star (Bangladesh) ran an extensive, helpful analysis of why nursing matters by Dulce Corazon Z Lamagna. "Evaluating the role of nurses" aims to "improve the image of nurses" through a general discussion of what nurses do and the difficult global situation they now face. It includes an unusually strong section on the effects of short-staffing. The piece is not rigorously organized, and it has its share of low-content jargon and unexplained statements about things like "enabling environment and self-actualisation." But it also presents a good deal of accurate, important information about the nature and value of nursing, including its effect on patient outcomes. We thank Dulce Corazon Z Lamagna, an MBA student at American International University, and The Daily Star. more...

Take Action!
Wanna Bee

June 7, 2006 -- "Akeelah and the Bee" follows the Hollywood formula of a gifted but troubled competitor confronting destiny. The ingratiating film tells the story of an 11-year-old girl from a struggling Los Angeles school who aims for the National Spelling Bee, despite a social environment that presents huge obstacles. Akeelah's widowed mother Tanya, for instance, is barely keeping it together raising the family by herself. Fair enough, except that the film tells us that the bitter Tanya had to settle for being a nurse instead of a physician after dropping out of college. In other words, nurses are sad physician wannabes who lack college-level training. In this respect, "Akeelah" pushes a vision of African-American professional achievement that is as elitist, shallow, and inaccurate as that of its sophomoric cousin, the prime time soap "Grey's Anatomy." When applied to nursing, that vision damages public health. more...

"Colleagues at the hospital think I am a prostitute"

June 4, 2006 -- Today the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) posted a generally strong, balanced piece by Ashfaq Yusufzai about the distressing state of nursing in Pakistan. The headline is: "Pakistan: Nurses Get Little Training or Respect." Relying on an impressive variety of sources, the article paints a grim portrait of a profession confronting a severe shortage, an abysmal lack of training, poor working conditions, and a public image as a group of disposable female sex objects. The piece also includes anecdotes of sexual assaults of nurses leading to no action by authorities. Though the piece might have further developed some points, we commend Ashfaq Yusufzai and IPS for highlighting these important issues in a powerful way. more...

What's in a name

June 3, 2006 -- Today the Gulf Daily News ran a short, fairly good piece by Tariq Khonji about how to address the "chronic shortage of nurses" in Bahrain. "Incentives call for Bahrain's nurses" discusses calls for better working conditions and pay. It focuses in particular on a Bahrain Nursing Society proposal to improve nurses' position in government pay scales by reclassifying them as "professionals." The nation's Civil Service Bureau (CSB) is reportedly reluctant to do that because only "a handful" of the nation's 4,000 nurses currently have bachelor's degrees. more...

Fear, loathing, and the good nurse

June 2, 2006 -- Today The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a long piece by Dawn Fallik, "Hospital 'boot camp' is a challenge to a young man's maturity." The article describes student Ryan Sholinsky's arduous year in Thomas Jefferson University's accelerated nursing program. The piece includes a wealth of information about what it's like to begin pursuing a nursing career today. And it conveys some of the intellectual, physical, and emotional demands of nursing, things that may surprise many readers. However, the piece is surprisingly thin when it comes to showing the major positive differences nurses make in patient outcomes, such as saving lives, advocating for patients, and teaching them how to stay well. Instead, it associates being a "good nurse" more with emotional support and resilience. At the same time, the piece's portrayal of the stress and fear Ryan experiences is so strong and so melodramatic that it may be the main thing most readers take away. We get a great sense of what it's like to screw up and almost take a life, but what's it like to save one? Perhaps a piece on medical school could rely on the pre-existing public understanding that physicians save lives and that medicine is at the very top of the socioeconomic order to provide context for such persistent negativity. We cannot say the same about a piece on nursing. Even so, those responsible for the piece deserve credit for telling readers much about the serious nature of nursing education. more...

Careless advice columnist threatens profession

June 2, 2006 -- Today the legendary syndicated advice column Dear Abby (now written by Jeanne Phillips (far right)) ran a piece headlined "Careless nurse threatens marriage." The main item is a letter from "Mike in Tucson" complaining about a nurse in a recovery room who reportedly told a patient's wife that patients emerging from anesthesia cannot lie. The patient's wife then asked her groggy husband if he had ever cheated on her, and when he said he had, she ran from the room. Mike wonders if he "should let the doctor know about his nurse's unwise remark." Abby responds "[a]bsolutely," and proceeds to opine that people coming out of anesthesia have no idea what they're talking about, so the "doctor needs to counsel his nurse for her poor judgment." Just how poor the nurse's judgment was would seem to require knowledge and analysis of a number of facts that we don't get here. But what's not so complex are the damaging assumptions Abby makes, namely that the nurse belongs to a physician and that it would be the physician's role to "counsel" her. Of course, hospital nurses report to other nurses, not physicians, and nursing managers and clinical leaders would be the ones to undertake any counseling needed. Even if the scene occurred in an outpatient setting in which the physician was an owner and thus the nurse's employer, readers are unlikely to see the above comments solely in that light, and very likely to have their sense that nurses generally report to physicians confirmed. Just an advice column? Dear Abby's daily readership is estimated at 100 million people. read more and send Dear Abby a letter...


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