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News on Nurses in the Media
June 2007 Archives



A Convenient Untruth

June 2007 -- In the earnest sports movie Gracie, a New Jersey high school student (Carly Schroeder) is devastated when her brother is killed in a car accident. Gracie shares her brother's mad soccer skills, and she is determined to honor his memory by taking his place on their high school team. But this is the late 1970's. Gracie's chauvinist father (Dermot Mulroney) refuses to share his soccer expertise with her as he has with her brothers. She faces a parade of mocking peers and a resistant school. The story of Gracie's fight is conventional, and at times almost comically manipulative, forcing well-worn dramatic scenarios in whether they really fit or not. Still, the girl power theme would be all right if it did not use the character of Gracie's mother (Elisabeth Shue), a nurse, to show that past generations of ambitious women were stuck in dead-end loser jobs. But today, we learn, girls can actually achieve something worthwhile in work and in life. Yay. more...


You are responsible for the difference

June 29, 2007 -- Michael Moore's "Sicko" opened today in theaters across the United States. The movie examines the ground-level effects of the private health insurance system in the U.S., using a relatively restrained version of Moore's usual approach (i.e., it's not exactly balanced or nuanced). "Sicko" is physician-centric: It features extended interviews with physicians but none with nurses, it does not explain nurses' role in the system, and it fails to mention nurse practitioners. Yet it has been embraced and actively promoted by many nursing groups. Why? Because it is a powerful, sad, and funny indictment of a dysfunctional health care financing system that imperils the patients nurses try to protect and that undermines nursing practice and education. We urge everyone to see Moore's movie and consider what can be done. more...


The Nurse Manifest Project

June 2007 -- The Nurse Manifest Project presents "a call to conscience and raise awareness, to inspire action, and to open discussion of issues that are vital to nursing and health care around the globe." The group has a web site and an email group with interesting ideas on making positive changes during a difficult time for nurses and their patients. The purpose of the email list is "to share our stories and concerns with others, provide support for one another in the challenges we face, and share ideas about how to meet these challenges in ways that are consistent with the values expressed in the Nurse Manifest 'Manifesto.'" Learn more about the group at To join the list, go to, and click "join this group!" If you have questions about the project or the email list, contact Peggy Chinn at


Q: You want a career in science? Then why are you applying to nursing school?

A: Nursing is a science.

It's understandable that many would not include nursing in the category of "scientific" fields. Too few people outside of nursing know that the profession requires years of intense college-level science education. Few know that nursing awards degrees including the Bachelor of Nursing Science, the Master of Science in Nursing, and the Doctor of Nursing Science. And too few know that, like physicians, nurses use the scientific method to resolve complex health problems, and that their work draws on disciplines including biology, chemistry, and psychology. Nurses engage in evidence-based scientific practice to advance the health of individual patients and entire communities. And nursing journals publish ground-breaking scientific research on topics ranging from forensics to the prevention of neonatal infections. more...


We must stop the naughty Scandinavian nurses from infiltrating America!

June 13, 2007 -- On June 1, syndicated radio host Stephanie Miller and sidekick Jim Ward discussed the immigration legislation pending in Congress. One caller suggested that a provision easing restrictions on the entry of foreign nurses would undermine unions. Miller linked this to how "the middle American worker in America is getting squeezed." But she could not resist several gratuitous "naughty nurse" remarks. One comment about "naughty Scandinavian nurses" managed to suggest that those nurses are sluts and to trivialize the real issues related to the growing migration of nurses from poor nations to developed ones, which has devastated fragile health systems in the poor nations. Truth executive director Sandy Summers wrote a letter asking Miller to avoid reinforcing tired stereotypes that are a key factor in why many nurses--and their patients--are "getting squeezed." Today, Miller mockingly read much of the letter on the air, while she and her cohorts cackling at the very idea that Miller's remarks could cause any harm. Summers called the show, and to their credit, the producers briefly let Summers try to explain the effects of such stereotyping. Miller apologized, though without much apparent sincerity. She and her sidekicks stayed with their position that any nurses who objected to the naughty nurse just had no "sense of humor," though after four decades of such brainless imagery, that would seem to be a better description of anyone who does find it funny. One of Miller's cohorts did allow that Summers had made "some very good points." But the overall reactions of the show and some listeners highlight the challenges nurses face in overcoming the naughty nurse image. more...


"A Nurse to the Homeless"

June 8, 2007 -- Today the Jamaica Plain Gazette (Boston, Mass) published a good profile of nurse Michael O'Connor, an AIDS care specialist who works for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP). The piece was written by BHCHP "media coordinator" Vicki Ritterband, rather than an independent reporter. Even so, it is a straightforward, informative account of what O'Connor actually does, and the challenges of caring for those who face AIDS and homelessness, often together with mental illness, addiction, and/or other chronic problems. Readers learn about the diverse roles O'Connor plays, including teaching and advocating. And he gets significant opportunities to convey his expertise through quotes. We thank Ms. Ritterband and the Jamaica Plain Gazette. more...


Could we teach your loathsome friends to be all smooth and polite like us?

June 7, 2007 -- The Truth understands that a new TV show called "Mind Your Manners," slated to air on The Learning Channel (TLC), has been seeking "rude," "crude," and "obnoxious" nurses for the asking major nursing groups for help. The show seems to involve a "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"-style makeover effort to help subjects improve their interpersonal skills. Not surprisingly, the nursing groups have been less than helpful, firing off outraged missives and promising to urge nurses to boycott the show. Actually, it's not clear how the show could offer expert social advice if it's clueless enough to think nursing groups are going to help out. Anyway, we are not among those who believe that all three million U.S. nurses are nice, polite, and professional. It's also pretty clear that the show's overall focus is not on nurses; we assume that the outreach to nurses was just one of many efforts to involve different parts of society. But the current nursing shortage is driven in significant part by a public image dominated by easy stereotypes. It's hard to imagine that the show could resist reinforcing the battleaxe image, or perhaps glibly noting that a given nurse is no angel. And in presenting socially challenged nurses, how likely is the show to explain that nursing--always a stressful job--now faces rampant short-staffing, mandation, and other working conditions that could make it hard for anyone to stay on an even keel? In any case, a concerned nursing organization (which requests anonymity) contacted an executive at Discovery Communications, which owns TLC as well as Discovery Health. Today we learned that this nursing group has received assurances that there will be no episode focused on nurses. We hope that will be the case. And we urge the show to mind its manners by sticking to individuals, rather than focusing on a profession in the midst of an image-related global health crisis. more...

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