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News on Nurses in the Media
March 2007 Archives



Army achievers

March 27, 2007 -- National press stories this month have highlighted the key role that nurse leaders can play in the U.S. Army's health care system. Today, National Public Radio ran a "Leading Ladies" profile, "Clara Adams-Ender: Army Achiever." The main feature is Cheryl Corley's positive 12-minute interview with retired General Adams-Ender, who headed the Army Nurse Corps from 1987-1991. Gen. Adams-Ender discusses her career and relevant issues, including the recently reported problems at Walter Reed Medical Center, where she once ran the department of nursing. Another nurse leader emerged in The Washington Post 's mid-March reports about Walter Reed. General Gale Pollock was appointed acting surgeon general of the Army--the first non-physician to hold that post--after Gen. Kevin Kiley resigned in the wake of criticism over his handling of conditions at Walter Reed. Gen. Pollock seemed to get off to a bit of a rocky start after the Post 's disclosure of an e-mail she sent to military colleagues railing about "media assaults." But she quickly gave the paper an interview in which she came off as more conciliatory and committed to resolving problems. None of the stories we saw said much about nursing, though the NPR piece would have been a great vehicle to do so. Gen. Adams-Ender apparently established the first neonatal ICU in Germany, though NPR fails to mention it. But both sets of stories do show the public that nurses can lead at the highest levels. more...


In sickness and in health

March 20, 2007 -- Today (Sofia News Agency) reported that the mayor of a Bulgarian village had offered a cash prize "for the first bachelor who manages to marry a nurse." The small village is apparently desperate to attract a nurse to provide care because there are currently no nurses or physicians nearby. Of course, the shortage of health workers in rural areas is a global phenomenon, especially during the current nursing shortage. But this town's idea is certainly a novel change from the common "nurse-as-sex-object" image. You could argue it's still troubling to link nursing with romantic love and self-sacrifice. We're just wondering how this could affect nursing recruitment and retention worldwide. more...


Allowing a Natural Death

March 16, 2007 - Today the weekly radio show "Healthstyles" on WBAI (New York) featured a typically enlightening discussion of key health issues from a nursing perspective. The show is hosted by American Journal of Nursing editor-in-chief Diana Mason, RN, PhD, FAAN (right), who also serves on the Center's advisory panel, and Barbara Glickstein, RN, MS, MPH. Today's topic was end-of-life care, specifically the importance of advance directives and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders--or, as one of the guests noted, what some have started calling "Allow a Natural Death" (AND) orders. In addition to Mason herself, who hosted today's show, two of the three guests were nurses, and the show provided an excellent forum for all to educate the lay audience about these health ideas. Mason and her guests proposed taking a more holistic, patient-focused approach to dying, which will often mean no aggressive treatment for terminal patients. This alternate approach runs counter to what even many health workers still assume patients want. Of course, in giving nursing leaders the chance to make this case, "Healthstyles" also shows its audience that nurses are articulate, knowledgeable health professionals. We salute Diana Mason and WBAI for the show. more...and hear 4 sound clips or the full show...


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"Hosp. workers"? Problem solved!

March 16, 2007 --Yesterday's New York Times Crossword puzzle included the clue: "Hosp. workers." Today's solution confirmed that the answer was: "RNS." We assume this is a response to nurses' protests that the February 26 puzzle called for the answer "RNS" with the dismissive clue, "I.C.U. helpers." (We can't say for sure because to our knowledge the Times has not responded to the many nurses who sent it letters of protest.) Certainly, "workers" is a more accurate description of what nurses do than "helpers." But it is also a grudging, bare-minimum recognition, one that seems crafted to be unassailable from any quarter. The clue shows zero willingness to admit, or to educate the public, that nurses actually save lives and improve outcomes under an autonomous practice model. I.C.U. nurses in particular play the central role in the skilled care of critical patients. The new clue will do nothing to remedy the damage done by the earlier one, or to address the widespread undervaluation of nursing. Yesterday's puzzle is credited to Michael Shteyman. The Times puzzle editor is Will Shortz. more... and join our letter-writing campaign!


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Kelly Ripa is your sponge bath nursey in her little nursey costume! Did we mention she was a nursey? With a sponge? Ooh! She missed a spot over here!

March 15, 2007 - This week on "LIVE with Regis and Kelly," Kelly Ripa repeatedly promised to act as "sponge bath nurse" to co-host Regis Philbin, who underwent bypass surgery yesterday. On March 12, Philbin told the syndicated show's 4-6 million viewers about his condition. Ripa said she would provide sponge bath services in her "little nursey costume." Today, Ripa told viewers that Philbin's surgery had gone well. She then sent a message to him that "nursey-poo is coming with her sponge." Ripa may be "joking," but viewers of her ABC sitcom "Hope and Faith" know that she does have naughty nurse experience. Predictably, Ripa's comments this week were enthusiastically amplified in press stories about Philbin's condition, from the Associated Press to The New York Post. Ripa's remarks suggest that nurses are brainless bimbos, rather than the college-educated science professionals who are currently keeping Philbin alive. We ask the show to let viewers know what nurses really do for patients. Read more or go straight to our letter-writing campaign!


Somebody changed

March 14, 2007 -- Several recent press pieces have profiled second-career nurses, including those who once worked in fields with higher social and/or economic status. On January 7, USA Today ran Adam Geller's Associated Press piece "Filipino Doc Picks Life As Nurse in U.S." This is a long profile of Elmer Jacinto, a nurse and a physician who chose not to practice as a physician in the Philippines in order to earn more money as a nurse in the U.S. Because Jacinto scored highly on physician exams in the Philippines, he became a controversial public symbol of the health worker migration away from that nation. The piece includes some helpful information about the nursing shortage. But it is full of subtle suggestions that nursing is less important than medicine, and that Jacinto has turned his back on the common good by not practicing as a physician, as if nursing had little social utility. Today, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published Susan Phinney's "Nursing student still works long hours, but the reward is priceless." This article reports that Mike Nicholls left a lucrative career as a Wall Street analyst to study nursing at the University of Washington. The piece stresses the differences between the two fields, highlighting the non-material rewards of nursing and the fact that nursing education actually is a serious academic endeavor. It could have done more to convey that nurses improve patient outcomes, but at least it does not suggest that Nicholls has suffered a loss of social worth. We thank Ms. Phinney and the Post-Intelligencer. more...


Startling discoveries

March 14, 2007 -- This week's Charleston City Paper (SC) featured a long cover story by Will Moredock headlined "Critical Condition: S.C.'s nursing shortage could use some intensive care." The article includes what is by now fairly standard information about the causes and effects of the shortage. But it is notable for its heavy reliance on expert quotes from Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) nursing dean Gail Stuart, PhD, and for its admirably detailed look at what MUSC Hospital MICU nurse Misty Deason actually did for patients during a recent shift. The piece seems to reflect the writer's surprise at the importance of bedside nursing. Moredock says studies showing nurse staffing and education levels affect patient outcomes were "startling discoveries." He also seems to marvel at the level of accomplishment of nursing leaders like Stuart and MUSC nursing professor Winnie Hennessey, PhD, whose name appears on "more than a dozen" publications. Even so, the piece is an unusually rigorous look at how the shortage affects one state, and we thank Moredock and the Charleston City Paper. more...


Myths and fairy tales

March 13, 2007 -- Recent articles in smaller newspapers have offered good discussions of the damaging misportrayal of nursing on popular U.S. television shows like Fox's "House" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." On March 5, the Salem News (MA) ran Julie Kirkwood's very good "As seen on TV: Real-life health care workers say medical shows aren't telling the real story." The comprehensive piece focuses on nurses' arguments that such shows can distort the public's view of health care. And it aims to debunk some of the key "myths" the shows present. Today, The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA) ran reporter Pat Carroll's "Doctored reality: Nurses chart complaints of marginalization on TV." This helpful article focuses on the common Hollywood depiction of a "pack of doctors engaging in patient care with no nurses in sight." Both pieces get expert comment from local nurses, and both rely on extensive input from the Center and its executive director Sandy Summers. We thank all of those responsible for the articles. more...


"Doctored reality"

March 13, 2007 -- Today The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA) ran a good piece by reporter Pat Carroll about the damaging misportrayal of nursing on Fox's "House" and other popular U.S. television shows. The article focuses on the common Hollywood depiction of a "pack of doctors engaging in patient care with no nurses in sight." The piece gets expert comment from several Pennsylvania nurses, and also relies on extensive input from the Truth and its executive director Sandy Summers. See the article: "Doctored reality: Nurses chart complaints of marginalization on TV."


Two states

March 5, 2007 -- Recent editorial pieces have argued strongly for reducing regulatory barriers that limit the ability of nurse practitioners (NPs) to give affordable, high-quality care to a U.S. population increasingly in need of it. On January 22, 2007, The Philadelphia Daily News published "Nurse Practitioners Reporting for Duty," an op-ed by Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the National Nursing Centers Consortium. Hansen-Turton expressed support for a new plan by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell to reform the state's health care financing system in part by expanding access to NP care. Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran an editorial by Mike King called "Patients will lose out." The Journal-Constitution forcefully opposed a legislative proposal to roll back the statutory prescription authority Georgia NPs finally won last year, and to make it so difficult for physicians to work with NPs that it could end their relationships--which we assume could mean the end of NP practice in Georgia. We commend the authors and the newspapers for their efforts. more...

The real story

March 5, 2007 -- Check out a good article in today's Salem News (MA) about the flawed depiction of health care on popular U.S. television shows like ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." Julie Kirkwood's piece focuses on nurses' arguments that such shows can distort the public's view of health care and health workers, with negative effects on the real world. The story aims to debunk some of the key "myths" such shows present, and it includes extensive comment from Truth executive director Sandy Summers about how the shows undervalue nursing care. The piece is "As seen on TV: Real-life health care workers say medical shows aren't telling the real story."


Reading is fundamental

March 1, 2007 - Today The Middletown Press (CT) ran a story about Rose Quiello, who is both a veteran nurse and a professor of English at Southern Connecticut State University. Shannon Becker wrote the piece, "Professor, nurse to lead novel discussion series." The article uses a short series of talks Quiello has planned at a local library to bring out links between Quiello's two careers, and between health care and literature generally. The piece gives the public a good profile of a literate, articulate nurse. Quiello rightly suggests that looking closely at literature can improve nurses' powers of clinical assessment and empathy. We would go even further: because textual analysis can help us understand and respond to human behavior, it can help nurses become better advocates for their patients--and themselves. We thank Shannon Becker and the Middletown Press for this helpful, interesting piece. more...


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Mourning Edition

March 1, 2007 - NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep has recently made statements in on-air interviews with disaster health experts that assume only physicians matter, presumably because they provide all important health care. On February 22, Morning Edition ran an interview with a former U.S. Coast Guard officer who argued that the nation was not well prepared to provide health care in the event of a disaster. When this expert said that a community had to ask whether it could handle hundreds of thousands of casualties, "all requiring triage and other kinds of life and death care," Inskeep (below) asked if that meant asking whether such a place had "hundreds of vacant beds ... hundreds of idle doctors?" Today, when the "chief of medical affairs" at a New Orleans hospital noted that a lack of "health care providers" was hampering efforts to restore area hospitals to full capacity, Inskeep wondered whether even hospitals like his that had remained open "don't have enough doctors available." In both stories, the experts sooner or later worked nurses into the conversation. In fact, while physician care is of course very important, most of the critical care in such emergencies (such as skilled triage) is provided by nurses. And it is the severe shortage of nurses that would likely present the most urgent health care human resources problem during a mass casualty event. more...


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