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Open letter to "ER" September 14, 2006

Dear "ER" producers:

Even though you produced two fairly good episodes earlier last season with the Eve Peyton character, it is unfortunate that your nursing portrayals have taken a sharp decline. There is much that you should do to remedy the inaccurate, handmaiden-oriented portrayal of nursing on NBC's "ER," including hiring nurse advisors to consult on "ER"'s scripts. The inaccuracies that you are perpetuating about the nursing profession are contributing to the nursing shortage--which is probably the worst health crisis of our time. When nurses have twice as many patients to take care of as they should have, their patients' mortality rate increases by 31%. The nursing shortage affects us all.

Please stop showing the work that nurses do in real life being done by physician characters on "ER." Physicians deserve credit for the work that they do--but they don't deserve credit for the work that nurses do.

Recent data indicate that nurses are more than 50 times as likely to go to graduate school in nursing than medicine. "ER" should stop showing nurses making upward career moves by going to medical school and start depicting nurses earning masters and doctorate degrees in nursing.

"ER" routinely uses medical students as vehicles for educating the public about medicine--yet it never shows nursing students, clinical nurse specialists or (very rarely) nurse practitioners. "ER" could become a great vehicle for educating the public about nursing if it would depict varying levels of nurses.

I strongly encourage "ER" to hire a nursing advisor to advise on every script. Otherwise, "ER"'s inaccuracies about nursing will surely continue--and continue to contribute to the nursing shortage.

Please be part of the solution to the shortage. Help us improve public understanding of nursing at this critical time.



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