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May 2007 Archives



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Living with his mistake

May 2007 -- A new public service announcement features New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine urging television viewers to use seat belts, a simple measure that might have prevented him from nearly dying in a serious car crash in April. We applaud this public health effort, except for the fact that Corzine's ad attributes his survival to "a remarkable team of doctors," "a series of miracles," and a "ventilator" in the ICU where he spent eight days. Corzine totally ignores the Cooper University Hospital nurses who likely provided most of the skilled care that saved his life. His ad both reflects and reinforces the physician-centric media coverage his hospital stay received. We urge Gov. Corzine to set the record straight. See more here or go straight to our letter-writing campaign.


Barbara Ficarra looks at the nursing shortage

May 23, 2007 -- Barbara Ficarra, RN, host of the radio show "Health in 30," has launched an online video series on called "Nurses in Motion." Over the past few months, Ficarra has hosted several shows looking at the causes and effects of the nursing shortage, as well as potential solutions. See Part I with Linda Honan Pellico, PhD, MSN, RN, and Christine Kovner, PhD, RN. See Part II with Diana J. Mason, RN, PhD, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing and Ruth Amos, RN, JD. See Part III, which focuses on the proposed Office of the National Nurse, with Edie Brous, RN, JD, and Keith Olsen, RN. And see today's episode, Part IV with Fred Pescatore, MD.


Crazy Mary

A review of A.R. Gurney's new play
By Claire Fagin, RN, PhD, FAAN

May 19, 2007 -- This is a wonderful play, the entire cast is superb, and the directorial hand is perfect--almost. The play takes place in a private psychiatric hospital in Massachusetts and concerns a long term patient, her distant cousin who is now the Trustee of her estate but is "hungry" for the money, the patient's son, a psychiatrist, and a nurse. All parts are played beautifully by Sigourney Weaver, Kristine Nielsen, Michael Esper, Mitchell Greenberg, and Myra Lucretia Taylor (right). My concern is the part of Pearl the nurse. more...


"Yes, doctor."  
"Right away."
"I was just trying to get a urine sample, and he went crazy!"

May 15, 2007 -- Above is the complete dialogue of nurse characters in tonight's episode of Fox's "House." These few lines reflect the hospital drama's portrayal of nurses in bedside care, a vision of physician handmaidens with little technical knowledge who perform menial assistive tasks but panic in an emergency, relying on physicians to supply all thinking, expertise, and courage. The episode reinforces this vision with a few of the House character's typical expressions of contempt for nurses and nursing, as always delivered without challenge from the other characters or the show as a whole. One priceless moment finds House informing two nurses, without irony, that a patient the nurses can see is having a pronounced full-body seizure is in fact "having a seizure." The episode, Leonard Dick's "The Jerk," drew 21.6 million U.S. viewers on May 15. more, including 8 new film clips...



May 14, 2007 -- Today the site posted a short piece by Nina Muslim, "Emirati men urged to become nurses." The article discusses efforts to increase the number of men in nursing in the United Arab Emirates. It suggests increasing the number of men is especially important because they would not face the "taboo" on women having physical contact with men in such "conservative Muslim" societies. The piece reports that there are now almost no male nurses in civilian hospitals because there are few nursing programs "for men." The piece also says few Emirates citizens go into nursing (presumably the nation relies on foreign nurses) because there is a "misconception that nursing [is] an unskilled profession, long and odd working hours for relatively low pay." The piece does a fairly good job with some key issues in a limited space, though more might have been done to explore the problems these "cultural obstacles" pose for a nation that reportedly has the second highest incidence of diabetes in the world. more...


Physicians save Corzine; other work occurs

May 13, 2007 - Today The New York Times ran a long piece by reporter Lawrence K. Altman, M.D., about the ongoing recovery of New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine from a serious auto crash last month: "In Corzine's Recovery, Doctors Cite Grit and Luck." The piece is physician-centric. It includes many quotes from Cooper University Hospital physicians, but not one from a nurse. And it gives credit for things nurses do to physicians, to others, or to no one, through the "this happened"-type constructions the news media often uses to describe nursing work. Readers could be forgiven for thinking that physicians provide virtually all bedside care to critical patients who spend weeks in the hospital, monitoring and keeping them alive 24/7. Gov. Corzine spent 18 days in the Hospital, 11 in the ICU. Yet the only specific credit any nurse gets is for lip-reading his requests for medication and water while he was on the ventilator. We regret having to say "nurses did that!" over and over when the media presents the key care of a VIP as being provided entirely by physicians, as it usually does. But it is necessary if we want a world in which credit for health care outcomes, and the resources that go with that credit, are allocated based on professional merit and the facts. more...


Nothing more than a persistent illusion

May 10, 2007 -- Tonight's "ER" was yet another in the show's long tradition of suggesting (at times) that nurses are skilled and important to patient care, yet also suggesting (at times) that nurses merely assist the physicians who have the real expertise and responsibility. Don't get us wrong: we'd miss a prime time world in which this NBC show did not regularly present us with the challenge of parsing the diverse and sometimes subtle messages it sends. These range from some good care and advocacy from sole major nurse character Sam Taggart, to the little bits of skill displayed by the minor nurse characters, to the regular physician nursing and nurse-free care scenes, to the implication that the show's countless wallpaper nurses are there to push gurneys, have physicians sign forms, and hold objects during codes. If this is "ER"'s last season, we face being left mostly with a stunningly regressive prime time landscape of mute handmaidens (or more precisely, with glimpses of their forearms and backs), with the occasional "naughty nurse" thrown in. Still, parts of this episode, notably the relentless physician nursing we see in the care of a physicist with septic shock and the growing role of new ED medical chief Kevin Moretti, show how short even "ER" falls of a good overall portrayal of nursing. The episode, "Sea Change", was written by Lisa Zwerling, MD, and drew 9 million U.S. viewers. more...


The 100-year plan

May 6, 2007 -- Today The Record (Northern New Jersey) ran a very good piece by Bob Groves about the poor portrayal of nursing in the entertainment media, working back from the recent "naughty nurse" comments by morning show host Kelly Ripa. "An image problem, from TV to silver screen" explains some of the influential media stereotypes that have dominated the nursing image in recent decades. It relies on quotes from New Jersey nurses and Truth executive director Sandy Summers. We thank Mr. Groves and The Record for the article. more...


When every week is nurses week

May 2007 -- Is "nurses week" (May 6-12) just another signal that nurses don't really have enough power or respect, that they're one of those groups society honors for a week so it feels OK about not really valuing what the group does the rest of the year? Will nursing know it's become a truly respected profession only when it has no more need of "nurses week"? Well, we don't see any media exploring those questions. So we'll celebrate the week by looking at some worthwhile "nurses week" media items we have found, most of which rightly address the lack of understanding that is a critical element in the profession's global problems:

and two photo exhibitions:

  • "The Faces of Caring: Nurses at Work," presented by the American Journal of Nursing and the New York University School of Nursing in New York through June 5; and
  • "Just a Nurse," by photographer Earl Dotter and journalist Gordon, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia through May 18.

See our full analyses of the above seven news items...


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