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News on Nurses in the Media
September 2007 Archives



Don't you think I'm so sexy--I'm just so fresh, so clean!

September 27, 2007 -- Since last week, Cadbury Schweppes Canada has been running "naughty nurse" television ads for Dentyne Ice chewing gum. The ads show female nurses being lured into bed with male patients the instant the men pop the product into their mouths. The tag line: "Get Fresh." But the ads are not really so fresh. They use naughty nurse imagery to sell products to young men--a cliché in itself. And they suggest that use of the products by hospital patients will instantly produce an erotic reaction from the always available bedside nurse, an idea that has recently been used to sell TAG Body Spray, and in an amazingly direct ad for a brand of Russian vodka. It is especially unfortunate that Cadbury Schweppes Canada is again exploiting the naughty nurse image, since we and other nurses clearly explained to the company the problems with that image following its use in a 2005 Mott's Clamato commercial. We urge Cadbury Schweppes to consider whether it really needs its female fantasy playthings to be nurses, which reinforces an enduring stereotype of workplace sexual availability that contributes to the global nursing crisis. Despite our extensive discussions with company executives over the last week, the company so far refused to alter its plans to run the Dentyne Ice ad for many more weeks. Please help us persuade Cadbury Schweppes to change course. See our analysis or go straight to our update. We got the ad pulled...


"Tears don't remove bullets or splint broken limbs."

So says tough Victorian-era English nurse Hester Latterly, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's legendary wartime cadre in the Crimea. Latterly, frustrated in her efforts to reform the antiquated hospital systems she finds back home, pursues private nursing. She also becomes the sidekick of detective William Monk, the hero of some 15 mystery novels by Anne Perry. In this 1994 entry in the series, Latterly finds herself on trial for the murder of Mary Farraline, an elderly Scottish matriarch Latterly was hired to accompany on a train journey. The prosecution claims Latterly gave Farraline an overdose of heart medication so she could steal a valuable brooch from the wealthy widow. As Monk and lawyer Oliver Rathbone work desperately to save Latterly from the gallows, Perry introduces significant detail about the great transition in nursing in the Nightingale era--not least by having the formidable icon herself appear as a character witness at Latterly's trial. "Sins of the Wolf" generally conveys that at least some nurses were intelligent women who saved lives using real skill. It makes clear that the work required great strength, and it shows nurses as aggressive reformers trying to shake up poor health systems. Parts of the book do tend to suggest that nursing itself was not intellectually challenging, and that nurses were especially impressive to the extent they acted as battlefield surgeons, which plays into the "you're so smart you could be a physician" mindset. Even so, the book presents mid-19th Century nursing as a progressive force in public health, and a focal point in the early struggle for professional equality for women. more...

"Medical TV isn’t always right"

September 20, 2007 -- Today MSNBC reprinted a Forbes article by Allison Van Dusen, "Playing doctor: Medical TV isn’t always right: Viewers often get wrong ideas, but shows do impart some info, experts say." The piece discussed the overall accuracy of popular health-related dramas. It included several comments from Truth executive director Sandy Summers about the shows' failure to portray nursing accurately. Our reported comments addressed the common depiction of physicians doing things nurses really do, including managing nurses. The piece also included our point that nurse characters tend to absorb abuse from physicians like House with no apparent ability to respond, reinforcing the image of nurses as meek servants--an unusual point for the mainstream media to put forward. Some of this material appeared in 2 of the 8 photos accompanying the article. We thank Allison Van Dusen for this article. see the article...


The Surfing Receptionist and the Beautiful Bombshell

September 2007 -- The new prime time U.S. television season promises mostly the same old narrative: nurses are the peripheral servants of heroic physicians who provide all important care, including much that nurses do in real life. The only new health drama, ABC's "Private Practice" (premiering Sept. 26), is a spinoff of the network's ratings monster "Grey's Anatomy" (Sept. 27). The new show is the brainchild of "Grey's" creator Shonda Rhimes, and it will of course focus on pretty, smart physicians. But the show's "wellness clinic" also has a cute surfing receptionist named Dell Parker (above) who just got his "nursing degree" and is studying to be a midwife--seemingly a prime time version of "Strong Medicine"'s Peter Riggs, except Dell uses his nursing skills to be a receptionist. Meanwhile, "Grey's" continues to vie with Fox's "House" (Sept. 25) for the title of the most damaging show for nursing in decades, if not in history. Both shows regularly attract more than 20 million U.S. viewers. But watch "Grey's": Rhimes has reportedly said that physician stud McSteamy will not be lonely, even with ex-flame Addison gone, because "[t]here are always nurses." Also returning are NBC's veteran "ER" (Sept. 27) and "Scrubs" (Oct. 25), shows that are not great for nursing, but do each have one major nurse character who can think and talk. "ER" in particular includes some good portrayals of nursing amid the physician-centric inaccuracies. FX's new season of "Nip/Tuck" (Oct. 30) finds the plastic surgery duo in the big pond of Los Angeles, still with no major nurse characters--unless there are some in "Hearts 'n Scalpels," the "show-within-a-show" for which the two become advisors (!). And USA Network's new "Dr. Steve-O" (Oct. 1) features "Jackass" veteran Steve-O in a reality show aimed at "de-wussifying" "wimps." That vital task involves macho stunts and the host's sidekick, "beautiful bombshell nurse" Trishelle (above), who offers attention to "patients" and Dr. Steve-O himself. Trishelle is the only regular "naughty nurse" character we are now aware of on any national U.S. TV show--a singular achievement for USA Network's parent NBC Universal, which also airs "E.R." All told, the six health-oriented shows above (obviously excluding "Dr. Steve-O") feature something like 35 major physician characters and three major nurse characters, if you count receptionist Dell. Actually, it's that staffing ratio that would make for a truly fascinating reality show. more...


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