Join our Facebook group
Twitter bird

Billboards featuring nursing and nurses

Looking at Her

Houston physician's emergency center thinks nurses are super cute

Memorial Ermergency billboardJanuary 23, 2016 - Recently the Memorial Heights Emergency Center has placed at least one billboard ad in the Houston area that asks whether patients would rather be "looking at" a clock, or instead "at her," with the "her" in question being an attractive young female "nurse" with a very big smile. Of course, the point is partly that this freestanding emergency department has shorter wait times. But the ad text and imagery also suggest that nurses are female objects to be ogled, rather than clinical professionals. If the Memorial Heights Emergency Center simply wanted to compare waiting a long time to getting health care, then the text should have been something like "looking at [a clock] or being seen by her," and the image should have shown the nurse as a serious professional, not a beaming model. We even created below a version of the billboard for them that would not cause us to object. Updated Memorial Heights billboardGranted, the "nurse" is holding a stethoscope--although not like she's ever actually used it--and the image is not particular sexual. But the ad still reinforces the enduring naughty nurse stereotype, which suggests that nurses are low-skilled helpers whose real purpose is to offer sex or romance to patients or physicians. We note that the Emergency Center is owned by physician Akash Bhagat, who has also boasted of his business's refusal to employ nurse practitioners because they are trained "differently". We urge the Memorial Heights Emergency Center to remove all advertising like this and to make amends for telling the public that nurses are eye candy.

Inmate or nurse?

Boys & Girls Club billboards spark debate in Cleveland

Inmate or NurseNovember 2014 -- Since at least September, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland have been running a billboard ad campaign featuring photos of a young African-American nursing student. In one version, she wears blue scrubs and the tag line is: "Inmate? Nurse? Your donation makes the difference." Another version of the ad offers a split photo. In the right half, the woman wears the same blue scrubs, but on the left, she wears an orange prison smock. The tag line: "Inmate, or nurse? You decide." Inmate or NurseThe idea is that viewers can, by supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs, help at-risk youth avoid trouble and ultimately find worthwhile careers. We know that because the Clubs' website makes clear that the ads feature Kinyatta, a real Cleveland youth who overcame a difficult background--with lots of support from the Clubs since early childhood--to become her high school salutatorian and enroll in the nursing program at Hiram College. Thus, it appears that the Clubs intend to present nursing as a career worthy of academically advanced students and a good indicator of a life transformed by effective social programs. However, some nurses have objected, arguing that the ads suggest nursing is one step up from prison, or perhaps that young people at immediate risk of prison--who presumably don't have a lot of good career options--could just become nurses as a last resort, since that work, in the minds of many, doesn't require much education or skill. And unfortunately, the view that nurses lack serious skills does remain widely held. Nursing has been suggested as a good career choice for those on public assistance, former prostitutes, and others deemed to have few options. So there is a risk that some who see the billboards will have the "last resort" interpretation, despite the Clubs' good intentions and the real backstory, which of course does not appear on the billboards. It appears that the Clubs removed at least some of the nurse billboards after pressure from outraged nurses, although we have been told that some of the billboards have recently reappeared. In any case, we and others have urged the Clubs to consider adding billboards with some other non-inmate success stories. Or, if they wish to keep the prison-or-health-care scrubs overlap, they might craft ads with other health professions, like physicians and pharmacists, that do not suffer from an unskilled stereotype. That would clarify that the ads' goal was not to suggest that nursing is one step removed from prison, but instead that it is a world away. more...


Shock jocks, billboards, porn stars, and nurses

October 26, 2004 -- Popular syndicated radio shock jock Mancow Muller is currently appearing on Chicago area billboards in satirical photos mimicking rock ...


Massage Parlor Pulls Down Naughty Nurse Billboards

October 10, 2004 -- In response to a single phone call from the Center, a Dallas massage parlor that had displayed two seductive nurse billboards on a popular freeway agreed to remove them. We applaud the Swedish Institute for Physical Health for its rapid response in removing the damaging nursing images (too fast for us to even snap a photo!) and for working with us to help improve nursing's image. more...


Leading hospital trumpets Magnet status

February 2004 -- Johns Hopkins Hospital has placed an advertisement on at least one large billboard on I-83, a major highway entering Baltimore, congratulating its nursing staff on their achievement of Magnet hospital status. On its face the billboard simply commends the nursing staff, and it may be intended primarily to reinforce staff morale. It could also be seen as a way of recruiting new nurses to the hospital, or even marketing the hospital to potential patients, though it's not clear how aware the public is of what Magnet status means. more...

Last updated January 23, 2016

book cover, Saving lives

A Few Successes —
We Can Change the Media!

Educate the world that nurses save lives!

Save Lives. Be a Nurse. bumper sticker