The Truth About Nursing

Send a letter to Silvio Berlusconi to urge him to apologize to nursing for
his damaging comments, to publicly highlight the devastating effects of
the nursing shortage and work to improve global policies
that will resolve the world's nursing shortage

Subject: (please sum up your views here)*

Our form letter is below--feel free to use it. However, an original letter from you is more powerful. If
you have a moment for even one original sentence, please delete the form letter and write one of
your own. If you choose to keep some of our letter--make sure you put your own thoughts up front
to make sure they get read. PLEASE SPELL CHECK your letter because our system cannot do that.
Thank you.

Our form letter in the box below is an Italian translation of the following letter. Please feel free to
write your own letter in English or Italian. We feel confident that Mr. Berlusconi employs individuals
who can translate your letters for him. (We understand that he does not speak English.)

Dear Mr. Berlusconi:

I understand that on December 22, 2006, you said the following about the care you were receiving
while getting a pacemaker at the Cleveland Clinic: "Italian nurses are better-looking...These
[U.S.] ones scare me a bit. Don't even think about leaving me alone at night with one of them."
These comments reinforce stereotypes that contribute to the global nursing crisis.

I realize that your latter comments were meant to be humorous. But I am troubled that someone
at the very pinnacle of the governmental, corporate, and media sectors would even suggest that
the measure of a nurse is her physical appearance. Your comment about being left alone at night
suggests that you may also believe that it is a nurse's job to provide sex to patients. Or maybe
you just think that U.S. nurses are such monsters that they might attack you, rather than simply
making the expected nursing sex unpleasant.

I hope you understand that nurses are not models or sex workers. Instead, they are health
professionals with years of college-level science training whose job it is to keep patients
alive 24/7. Had the Cleveland Clinic obliged you by keeping all the nurses away from you at
night, you could well have died.

Your comments have reinforced a damaging stereotype. The media often links sexual images to
the profession of nursing ( Even though
those images are often "jokes," the stereotypes they promote discourage practicing and
potential nurses, encourage sexual violence in the workplace, and contribute to an atmosphere
of disrespect. Even humorous images affect how people act.

Desexualizing the nursing image is a key part of building the strength the profession needs to
overcome the current shortage, which is taking lives worldwide, and to meet the challenges of
modern health care. The "naughty nurse" isn't going to catch deadly medication errors, intervene
when a patient is about to crash, or teach a patient to survive with a life-threatening condition.

Mr. Berlusconi, I urge you to make amends for your comments by working for global health policies
that ensure that nurses have the resources they need for their clinical practice, education and
research. Please contact the Center for Nursing Advocacy if you would like specific suggestions
on how you can help to end one of the most pressing public health crises of our time.

Thank you.

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