Letter to "ER" from Ronnie Taylor
I am compelled to write to you from far across the pacific (Australia) regarding my favourite Television show, ER. I have enjoyed ER immensely since its inception, for so many reasons, however, if you want a real ER nurses opinion, please take time to review my comments.
I feel I write with some authority, as I just received the Australasian Emergency Nurse of the year award, and an Order of Australia (OAM) medal for services in this field. I have had a 20-year nursing career, with 14 years in ER. I am currently a nurse manager of a major trauma centre, and very busy and isolated Australian ER. My hospital was the response hospital for the Bali Bombing and treated a massive amount of bombing victims. I just returned from presenting this story to the Albany Disaster Management Preparedness conference in N.Y. in September. After I finished presenting to the audience, a member of the audience came up and said, "It is about time a Nurse was fairly represented at this kind of symposium." He was a Doctor.
The Nursing shortage is a global problem and is causing loss of life with dangerous nurse-to-patient ratios, and uneducated or unqualified personnel "filling in" for an R.N. Shows like ER that portray this regularly, and also promote such a subservient role to the Medical Colleagues do nothing to help our recruitment cause. Who would want to work like a second class citizen? Nursing is an autonomous profession, fully supported by a scientific evidence based knowledge base.
In my country anyway, Physicians certainly do not supervise, hire and fire nurses. There are Nursing Administrators, Mangers, Directors. All Nurses. I am sure my US colleagues have the same.
Certainly the occasional nurse goes on to study medicine, but many choose more advanced alternatives as postgraduate masters and PhD level degrees. These nurses may choose to become a nurse practitioner if so desired, but thus far your 2 lead nurses, Hathaway and Lockhart are both disgruntled Medical students.
When your show depicts school children as only wanting to be Doctors and not nurses, this reinforces society's belief that mine is a second grade career choice.
Triage is a dynamic fast paced life saving area of ER. The nurse controls the game plan, or the flow of the ED. The triage nurse is the front door of the hospital, the firing line, and must be street wise, savvy, and clinically of the highest calibre.
Your ratio of major Doctor stars to major nurse characters is way out of whack. A real trauma centre such as my own has 35 Doctors, (6 Attendings), and 70 Registered Nurses (with about 20 of those being senior RN's)
Please remove the Warner Bros. Web site statement that Abby Lockhart is a "medical student DEMOTED to nurse" This is intolerable.
I would advise Warner Bros. that by hiring an expert emergency nurse to advise and consult on each script would be an ideal way to stop portraying the gross inaccuracies that currently, and have for many years occurred on your show. If you reply and tell me you have one, please forward the nurse this email so these points can be taken under advisement, and I would be happy to discuss concerns with him / her.
You could build in some very interesting characters by depicting all the different roles of nurses, from students, educators, nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, directors of nursing (or Vice Presidents I believe they are called in the USA).
I have enjoyed a hugely exciting and rewarding career as an emergency nurse, and even though I have delivered 65 babies as a midwife, have a bachelor of teaching and have taught nursing in universities, I keep coming back to ER. I have a truckful of stories to tell, as any good ER nurse does. Organisations like Warner Brothers could be helping resolve the nursing shortage by portraying positive aspects of the show.
I hope you take this email in the good grace it was intended. I look forward to your reply.
Mrs. Ronnie Taylor, RN, RM, CCRN, B.Tch, M.Emerg (curr), MRCNA, OAM.
Tiwi, Darwin NT , Australia