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News on Nurses in the Media
November 2007 Archives




November 8, 2007 -- The episodes of NBC's "ER" broadcast tonight and a week ago send typically mixed messages about nursing autonomy and expertise. On the one hand, the episodes include some helpful suggestions of nursing skill. These include lone major nurse character Sam Taggart's (right) quick thinking to prevent a combative patient's suicide, and in a pediatric trauma scene, a rare indication that some nurses are more skilled than others. Sadly, other scenes suggest that nurses report to physicians, that physicians manage nurses' work at triage, and that physicians have to persuade nurses to allow a natural death for terminal patients. And there is the usual focus (even by the nurse characters) on physicians' professional hierarchy and advancement, while the nursing analogs are utterly ignored. The November 1 episode was "The Test" by Lisa Zwerling, MD (9.1 million viewers), and tonight's episode was David Zabel's "Blackout" (8.4 million viewers). more...


Baby We Were Born to Care

November 2007 -- Johnson & Johnson has begun running a new set of television ads as part of its massive Campaign for Nursing's Future, whose stated goal is to address the nursing shortage. The two new 30-second spots do not abandon the emotional, soft-focus helping imagery that marred the Campaign's previous ads, particularly in the use of more gooey lite music with lyrics about being "born to care." But both ads also do important things the Center urged the company to do in its analysis of the previous ads. They make clear that nurses save lives and improve outcomes, even offering some specific examples, like defibrillation. One ad pays tribute to nurse educators. And both continue the Campaign's admirable focus on promoting workforce diversity. We thank J&J for ads that do a better job of showing the public that nurses are not just angelic hand-holders. more...


Nurse, fetch me the ball.

November 15, 2007 -- Today, nurses persuaded Seattle's Group Health to withdraw ads for its "Ask the Doc" service that included the tag line: "Nurse, hand me my laptop." The ads, posted on websites such as, promoted Group Health's program of having patients communicate with advanced practitioners by e-mail, instead of having to come in to the office for simple follow-ups or questions. We commend Group Health for using such a cost-effective care delivery system, and we get the "joke"--laptops are the new stethoscopes. But the ads' regressive text and imagery suggest that: (1) nurses are nameless handmaidens who fetch and carry items for physicians, rather than autonomous professionals who follow an independent practice model; (2) nurses' role in advanced care technology consists mainly of handing it to physicians, though in reality nurses are on the cutting edge of such technology; and (3) nurses lack substantive health information, and their role is to help patients reach the physicians who do have the expertise. In fact, nurses are the main patient educators, and nurses at Group Health itself regularly communicate with patients by email. We applaud Carolyn Elliott, Stephanie Hitzroth, Shari Hirshberg and their nursing colleagues for persuading Group Health to do the right thing. more...


Cashmere Mafia Nurses in Bondage

November 16, 2007 -- Department store chain Bloomingdale's recently began running a radio commercial that reportedly featured a sultry nurse seducing a physician with a cashmere sweater. The Center's Long Island chapter president alerted us to the ad. We contacted Bloomingdale's and explained how ads like this, no matter how luxuriously soft and enticing, reinforce the stereotype of nurses as brainless workplace sluts. The company decided to pull the ad just hours later. more...


State of Tomorrow

November 26, 2007 -- Today the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) announced the four winners of its 2007 Media Awards. The awards went to: "State of Tomorrow...Rising Challenges. Higher Education Solutions," a documentary about the nursing shortage shown on Texas PBS stations, by the University of Texas, Alphaeus Media, and Texas Tech University's School of Nursing; "Vietnam Nurses with Dana Delany," a documentary about U.S. nurses during the Vietnam War shown on Women's Entertainment Television, by Creative Street Entertainment by director David H. Smith, and producers Steven Katzenberger and Dan Meadows; "Charting Nursing's Future," a series of policy briefs about the nursing shortage posted on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation web site and distributed to a "target audience" by mail, by Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Michelle A. Larkin, and Jeri Spann; and "Mommy's Light Lives On: Education for and about Bereaved Children," a multi-media project by Margaret "Mimi" Mahon, PhD, RN, FAAN (honorable mention). The Center congratulates all the winners and thanks the AAN for continuing to recognize the importance of media about nursing. more...


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