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January, February and March 2012 Archives
News on Nursing in the Media



March 2012 Archives


2012 Project to Nurses: "Don't get mad, get elected!"

Busch Gardens naughty nurse dancersMarch 16, 2012 -- "The 2012 Project, a national, non-partisan campaign to increase the number of women in Congress ...will explain why it is essential for women to throw their hats in the ring in 2012. A Tuesday March 27, 2012 webinar (1:00-2:00 pm EST) will highlight the experiences and insights of two 2012 Project faculty members who will share what it takes to be a candidate, the difference women make in government, and why it is important for more women (like you!) to run. Filing deadlines have not yet passed in many states, so it's not too late!" Sign up for the meeting now!


A seemingly innocuous incident

Haaretz on research by Israeli nurse about causes of hospital violence

News conference Shafran-TikvaMarch 13, 2012 --  Today Haaretz (Tel Aviv) reported on a new study in which nurse Sigal Shafran-Tikva examined the factors that lead to violence by Israeli hospital patients, most notably the role of health care staff themselves. Dan Even's article gives a fair account of the main findings of this research, which is of particular importance to nurses and does reflect their perspectives. And the piece includes some good quotes from Shafran-Tikva. Unfortunately, the report does not mention that Shafran-Tikva is a nurse, greatly reducing the piece's potential to improve understanding of nursing. We don't know whether someone publicizing the study downplayed the nursing element, perhaps so the research would be taken more seriously. But the net effect is to bury nursing expertise. And it seems likely that many readers will assume that Shafran-Tikva is some other kind of health professional--particularly since the piece itself does nothing to convey nurses' skill or authority, and instead subtly suggests that nurses are less important than physicians in hospital care. We hope those responsible for this piece will credit nurses for their research in the future. more...


You just have to listen

David VlahovMarch 11, 2012 -- Today the San Francisco Chronicle ran a remarkably good profile of new University of California San Francisco nursing dean David Vlahov -- on the front page. Julian Guthrie's piece, which also includes several photos, explores Vlahov's life and his development as a nurse, from his childhood living with a disabled brother to his work as a prison clinician and a nursing professor, his time at the Centers for Disease Control, his founding of an AIDS clinic in East Baltimore, and his years on the New York City Board of Health. The piece notes that Vlahov is one of a small number of nursing deans who are men, and it reminds readers that there are relatively few men in nursing generally. So the article also discusses the challenges and opportunities men find in the profession. The piece gives Vlahov space to explain his experience and his goals as dean, which include revamping nursing career tracks and attracting more men to the field. The article might have done more to consult colleagues about their views of Vlahov's work, and it might have focused more on Vlahov's scholarship and his experience on Michael Bloomberg's board of health in New York City. But by showcasing this articulate nursing scholar, the piece tells readers that nurses can be health care leaders who advance public health. We thank Julian Guthrie and the Chronicle. more...


Sit and deliver

Nurse researchers show that sitting caregivers improve patient satisfaction

nurse sitting on bedMarch 8, 2012 -- Today the Kansas City Community News site posted a good story by Linda Friedel about a study done at the University of Kansas Hospital showing that, when a clinician sits at the bedside rather than standing, patients are more satisfied and actually believe that the clinician has spent more time with them. The researchers reportedly followed Paul Arnold, MD, as he made 120 consultations of two minutes or less using both methods. Patients perceived that Arnold had spent far longer with them when he sat, even as much as 15 minutes. The piece explains that Jennifer Moran, RN, BSN, CNRN, a clinical nurse educator at the hospital, collected data, and Joan K. McMahon, MSA, BSN, CRRN, Spinal Cord Program Coordinator, supervised the study. The report includes good quotes from those two, as well as from Arnold, who says that he was known as a fast rounder, but now he sits with patients and tries to take a little more time. The article provides a good look at nursing research into how the care environment affects patients, which is a classic focus of the profession. Whether a clinician sits or stands may not seem critical, but it can make a difference in patients' outlook and so presumably in their outcomes. In fact, the piece might have spent a little time on that link, perhaps citing other studies about the effect of patient attitudes on recovery. And the piece might have asked whether patients would benefit even more if clinicians actually spent more time talking to them. The piece does give the nurse researchers most of the quotes, includes their job titles and educational credentials, and of course, tells readers that they are nurses--which is not something we can take for granted in reports about nursing research. We thank Ms. Friedel and the Kansas City Community News. more...


A Gifted Man: The Lionel Messi of surgeon glorification

Holt March 2, 2012 -- In CBS's new drama A Gifted Man, elite New York neurosurgeon Michael Holt resides atop a pyramid of health expertise, gazing down with some contempt at all the other physicians and even less worthy non-physicians, whose knowledge seems to be merely a small subset of his. The show focuses on the visits Holt receives from the ghost of his recently deceased physician ex-wife, who pushes him to keep afloat the local poverty health clinic that she ran while alive. Holt is a self-absorbed anti-spiritualist who alienates people, but the show presents his skills as fully justifying his over-the-top arrogance; he compares himself to peerless soccer legend Lionel Messi (September 23, 2011 episode). Other characters stand in awe -- one anesthesiologist assures a patient that Holt is not as great as everyone says, he's even better! (October 7) -- and we are expected to take it all at face value. Needless to say, in a world in which even other physicians are treated as inadequate sidekicks, nurses will barely register at all. Holt's boutique neurosurgery facility seems to be staffed solely by swaggering physicians, quivering techs, and high-tech machines, including the advanced HEPA filter that supposedly prevents all infections by itself (October 7).Of course, there is Holt's no-nonsense assistant Rita, who at one point reminds him that she "used to" be a nurse (September 30), apparently before she moved up to the key job of managing Holt's schedule. Holt keeps forgetting her nursing background, evidently because that is irrelevant to the serious health care he provides. The poor clinic, meanwhile, seems to be run by physicians, a social worker, and administrative staff; occasionally, apparent nurses (or just their forearms) will appear to hold something or hand something to physicians. And with physician characters providing all meaningful care, there are many examples of physician nursing and suggestions that health care consists solely of what physicians do. One of the executive producers is Neal Baer, a physician who also worked on NBC's ER. Tonight A Gifted Man aired its season finale, which may also be the series finale, but if the show does return, we urge producers to convey some of the central role that nurses actually play in health care. more...


February 2012 Archives


Too Darn Hot: Global media loves Swedish hospital's quest for "hot nurses"!

hot nurseFebruary 2012 -- Late this month press entities around the world gleefully reported that a real Swedish hospital was seeking to hire "TV-series hot nurses," which allowed some of the media to embrace the naughty nurse while seeming to just be telling the story of a notable hospital recruiting tactic. Lee Moran's February 22 Daily Mail (UK) piece, for example, not only reported on the summer recruiting ad by South General Hospital, but also included an unrelated naughty nurse image (helpfully labeled "picture posed by model"), just to show curious readers what a "TV-series hot nurse" might look like. In response to the press attention, nurse managers at the Stockholm hospital stressed that they were just trying to "catch people's attention" -- mission accomplished! -- and that professional nursing qualifications were all that really mattered in their hiring. But this is a "joke" that has been repeated countless times worldwide for decades, and it is one that some of the media seems happy to amplify whenever there is an opportunity. The result is to reinforce the association of nursing with female sexuality that makes it harder for real nurses, like those at South General Hospital, to get the respect they need to do their work. We urge the hospital and the Daily Mail to find other ways to "catch people's attention." more...


Dallas Mavericks Dancers: A Bad Case of Loving Nurses

Dallas Mavericks DancersFebruary 28, 2012 -- Tonight, as the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks played the New Jersey Nets, the Mavericks Dancers entertained the crowd and a large television audience at half-time by dressing in naughty nurse outfits and doing a sexually-oriented dance to the tune of Robert Palmer's "Bad Case of Loving You." Unfortunately, the tired but persistent naughty nurse stereotype in this dance undermines real nurses' claims to the resources and respect they need to save lives. We urge the Mavericks to avoid future use of naughty nurse imagery, and to make amends for the damage caused, perhaps with a donation to a Dallas area nursing school. more... or go straight to our letter-writing campaign!


Regular Phuket Hero: The nurse as local disaster response leader

Jenny from PhuketFebruary 19, 2012 -- Today the Thai publication Phuketwan ran a short but helpful item by Alan Morison about a nurse on the resort island of Phuket whose job involves coordinating the local response to disasters, such as a chlorine gas leak that reportedly sent 37 people to her hospital a couple days earlier. The piece, "Nurse Jenny, Regular Phuket Hero," describes not only the nurse's role in dealing with the chlorine incident but also her experience in previous disasters, including the devastating 2004 tsunami that left many on the island dead. The piece is not too specific about what "Jenny" actually does for patients, but it does allow her to provide substantial comment on how the hospital handled the chlorine incident, and it indicates that she is a leader in disaster response, receiving training elsewhere in Thailand and an "exchange scholarship" to study in Vancouver and Seattle. Despite the fact that Hero-Nurse Jenny never gets her surname published, which would identify her as a real human being working hard at her profession, we thank Mr. Morison and Phuketwan. more...


The CW's new Hart of Dixie: The hair salon expert

Addie PickettFebruary 2012 -- The CW's new drama Hart of Dixie is about Zoe Hart, an attractive young New York physician who finds herself taking over her dead father's family practice in the small town of Bluebell, Alabama. The show includes occasional health care scenes, and recent episodes have featured down-home nurse Addie Pickett (right). On October 17, Addie appeared but was not really introduced; she blended in with the wallpaper and might have been a receptionist. But in the October 24 episode, Addie was finally introduced as a registered nurse with 15 years experience, and she did at least show knowledge of Zoe's father's practice and the town. Addie does don gloves to help Zoe and she even collects lab results, though she doesn't always look at them. Mostly, Addie acts as adoptive older sister to the fish out of water Zoe, giving her advice about how to fit in with the locals of Bluebell, for example by going to the hair salon to gossip and show the locals that she's real. Addie is a positive character, but we haven't seen her do anything we'd really call nursing or display much health expertise yet, and it seems unlikely that viewers will consider her a real health professional like Zoe. Thus, though Hart of Dixie isn't mainly about health care, it does subtly reinforce the prevailing view that health care revolves around expert physicians who call the shots, though they may get occasional help from assistant nurses who have practical knowledge based on their years on the job. more...and see the film clips!


Hahnemann Hospital: America's top RN model?

Hahnemann Hospital, Lydia HallFebruary 7, 2012 -- Today the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a very good report by Stacey Burling about Hahnemann University Hospital's transition to an all-RN care model, which will mean eliminating the use of nursing assistants. The move, credited to chief executive officer Michael Halter, comes in the wake of a pilot study at the hospital that showed all-RN units had better patient outcomes as well as higher patient and nurse satisfaction. The piece features good expert comment from University of Pennsylvania nursing professor Matthew McHugh, who explains the research showing the benefits to patients and nurses from the use of higher proportions of RNs. The article might also have mentioned that research suggests using higher proportions of RNs does not actually cost much more, and can even save money, when factors like lower complication rates are considered. The report also includes brief comments from two direct care nurses, though it might have gotten more from them on how the move will affect patient care. And the piece should have consulted a nurse manager at the hospital. The piece does rightly include the reactions of the nursing assistants' union, whose representative argues that the move is "union busting" based on a "humbug," though the article includes no support for those claims. We would not expect the report to say so, but this all-RN initiative reminds us of the work of nursing pioneer Lydia Hall, who established an all-RN staff at the Loeb Center at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx in the 1960's; Hall stressed that all patient care should be provided by professional nurses. On the whole, the Inquirer report is a helpful look at a promising nursing initiative from the same reporter and newspaper responsible for "More nurses, less death," a 2010 piece about a University of Pennsylvania study finding that many lives could be saved if hospitals followed the minimum nurse staffing ratios now required in California. We thank Ms. Burling and the Inquirer for the new report. more...


January 2012 Archives


The Doctor Weighs In: National Nurse effort relaunched in Congress

Office of the National NurseJanuary 2012 -- This month many U.S. blogs have covered the recent introduction in Congress of the National Nurse Act of 2011, the latest version of the legislation conceived and relentlessly pursued by Oregon nurse Teri Mills to create an Office of the National Nurse. For example, on January 11, Brian Klepper posted a short piece on the blog "The Doctor Weighs In" that expresses support for the new bill. Dr. Klepper, whose doctorate is in speech, hearing, and language, reports that on December 15, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced the new bill (H.R. 3679). Klepper explains that the bill "would elevate the existing Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service to the National Nurse for Public Health, a new full time leadership position that can focus nationally on health promotion and disease prevention priorities." In explaining the basic idea behind the National Nurse, Klepper quotes from the op-ed Mills originally published in The New York Times in 2005 (see our analysis of that op-ed). The excerpt argues that nurses are trusted professionals with a preventative focus that could address some of the nation's most pressing health problems. Klepper endorses these ideas, noting that "physicians may drive care, but nurses are on the front line with patients delivering it," and he urges readers to contact their Representatives to express support for the bill. This is a helpful post, though the suggestion that physicians "drive" care while nurses "deliver" it misses the scope and importance of nurses' autonomous practice. Nurses do deliver care prescribed by physicians, but they also provide a range of expert nursing care that nurses drive themselves and that is independent of physicians.In fact, this care often requires nurses to advocate against physician prescriptions and care plans. In any case, we thank Klepper for his support of the National Nurse, which is a promising way to improve public health and understanding of the value of nursing. Learn more about the National Nurse campaign and click here to get involved! See the article...


WSJ and the Daily Mail: Compassion and fatigue at the bedside

sobbing angel collapsed on armsJanuary 3, 2012 -- Recent press items have highlighted the devastating effects of nurse under-staffing on patients and nurses alike. Today, Laura Landro's "Informed Patient" column in The Wall Street Journal discussed compassion fatigue among nurses, especially those who regularly care for terminally ill patients. Landro's Health Blog provided additional information about the problem, which may contribute to burnout and high turnover, which in turn add to compassion fatigue. That cycle can lead to worse patient care. The Wall Street Journal pieces include expert comment from several nurses, and the items convey that nurses play an important role in care, though they might have focused more on the danger that impaired nurses pose to patients because of the critical nature of nursing. And on December 31, 2011, the Daily Mail (UK) ran a piece by Sam Greenhill about a woman who, though not a nurse, had "nursed" her 89-year-old grandmother back to health at a hospital, after the physicians and other health professionals had apparently written the patient off. The woman reportedly fed, washed, and advocated for her grandmother while the hospital's actual nurses were too overworked to do so. We're generally critical of media accounts that suggest lay people have acted as "nurses" by providing unskilled care, since that suggests nursing requires no special education or skills. But here it sounds like the lay person did a better job than the real nurses. Of course, despite the happy ending, the piece also presents a distressing picture of what happens when nurses are so overworked that they cannot do the most basic part of their jobs--saving lives. We thank those responsible for these pieces. more...


The 2011 Truth About Nursing Awards

2011 Award winnersThe Truth About Nursing announces the ninth annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses! The year 2011 (yes, we're a bit late, sorry) featured the impressive 14-part U.K. documentary 24 Hours in the ER, as well as strong nursing advocacy in the media from National Nurses United and many other nurses. TNT's HawthoRNe ended its three-season run, offering a few more portrayals of nursing skill and authority, despite some damaging suggestions that physicians really call the shots. The year also featured more of Showtime’s compelling Nurse Jackie, which included some depictions of strong, expert nursing, although the show at times wrongly suggested that nurses report to physicians. And mainstream press sources published good pieces ranging from the New York Times obituary for nursing leader Joyce Clifford, to United Press International items about nurses' public health advocacy on issues like teen suicide, to a South African Press Association report noting that Zimbabwean nurses must sell fruit in order to make ends meet. On the other hand, the year also included the usual onslaught of damaging distortions from popular Hollywood products and the news media. The U.S. prime time landscape remained dominated by shows with little respect for nursing, including ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice and Fox's House, each of which featured a slew of strong, expert physician characters providing all meaningful care, while nurses were handmaidens who did little more than fetch things. And the "naughty nurse" remained a staple of the entertainment industry, appearing in everything from the new NBC sitcom Whitney to a Halloween-themed show at the family-oriented theme park Busch Gardens. The news media continued to issue "serious" articles about health care that assumed only physicians really matter, such as Harvard physician Jerome Groopman's New Yorker piece about NICUs, where, in reality, nurses take the lead. Even groups ostensibly trying to help nurses fell prey to damaging stereotypes, notably the unskilled angel. Johnson & Johnson released new television ads as part of its Campaign for Nursing's Future, but they relied heavily on emotional themes and did little to convey nurses' real skills. And Kaiser Permanente aired a radio ad for Nurses Week that was nonstop scut-work-saint imagery, as it extolled nurses for their "gargantuan heart[s] all squishy with compassion thumping away." Clearly, we have a long way to go. But we thank those responsible for the best media and encourage others to keep trying. see the full awards...


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