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Open letter to "ER" September 13, 2007

Dear "ER" producers:

I urge you to improve the portrayal of nursing on "ER." Although the show is certainly better than some other network shows for nursing, it still falls well short of adequate, especially since poor public understanding of the profession is a factor in the global nursing crisis.

The May 10, 2007 episode, rebroadcast September 13, was yet another in the show's tradition of suggesting (at times) that nurses are skilled and important to patient care, yet also suggesting (at times) that nurses merely assist the physicians who have the real expertise and responsibility. Parts of this episode, notably the relentless physician nursing we see in the care of a physicist with septic shock and the growing role of new ED medical chief Moretti, show how short "ER" falls of a good overall portrayal of nursing.

There is much that you could do to remedy the handmaiden-oriented overall portrayal of nursing on "ER." The fact that only one of your 8-10 major characters is a nurse is arguably the greatest single barrier to the show presenting a fair and accurate vision of the real nursing role. This makes it virtually inevitable that the physician characters will be seen doing a good deal of the important, dramatic work that nurses do in real life.

A nurse manager, new nurse, or nursing student would be a good addition. "ER" routinely uses new physicians and medical students to educate the public about medicine. It could do something similar for nursing if it would depict varying levels of nurses. Hiring nurses to consult on scripts would also be very helpful.

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



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