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Sandy Summers' response to the LCA

Sandy Summers

From: Sandy Summers <>
Date: November 19, 2009 4:04:19 PM EST
To: "Laurie Fenton" <>
Cc: John Duff <>, Cheryl Healton <>, Norman Mineta <>, James Mulshine <>
Subject: Re: Dr. Lung Love

Dear Ms. Fenton Ambrose,

Thank you for responding. I wish that I could accept your apology, but two things you said made me wonder if it was sincere.

First, the Dr. Lung Love video remains widely available to the public through your website and YouTube. You say below that you have "replaced" the video, but that does not mean you have removed it. It has been slightly de-emphasized by no longer being the default video on, but it's still there and still being seen by the young public you long to reach. 

You also mention that you have "have extended [your] apologies to leadership within the nursing community for any perceived misrepresentation of nurses in our video campaign." As far as I know, you told the Oncology Nursing Society on November 9th that you were going to remove the PSA, but it remains up. And I understand that on Nov. 4th you told the American Nurses Association that you were going to put a disclaimer on the PSA about how the PSA was not intended to send damaging messages about nurses--but that doesn't seem to have happened either. Even if you did put the disclaimer on, it would be a grossly inadequate response to nurses' concerns about the video, so I want to emphasize that this is not something that I am asking for. I am just saying that in two instances, you promised various things to nursing groups that have not happened.

The second reason that I do not think your apology is sincere is that you appear not to understand nurses' concerns because you use language like "perceived misrepresentation of nurses." This implies that nurses are thin-skinned ninnies who don't know how to analyze the media and that there is no real problem created by your video. Is there actually a person on the planet who can watch this video and come away with the idea that nurses are autonomous science-educated professionals who use their college preparation to save lives and improve patient outcomes? The nurses in the Dr. Lung Love video are nothing more than Lung Love's servants who are there for his every need. And they'll do what it takes to please him. I think it's pretty easy for everyone to "perceive" it. It strikes me that you may think that it's only an issue nurses care about.

Your letter also makes mention of the "decades of stigma" and "lack of sufficient research funding" for lung cancer patients, but these damaging problems are precisely what has kept funding for nursing research at abysmal levels. When nurses are stigmatized as negative stereotypes, we cannot get the funding we need to resolve the nursing shortage. We cannot properly care for lung cancer patients, do the nursing research about lung cancer nursing or educate the next generation of nurses to provide this care either. We need the media to stop sending negative messages about nursing so we can increase the understanding of how important nursing is to health care, so we can improve the funding, so we can improve the care that lung cancer patients receive.   

Often people who create damaging images of nursing tell us that they can't possibly have created something damaging because they did not intend to do so. Or they say that they're related to nurses, or that they love nurses for the wonderful work they do. This is nice, but the intent behind media depictions doesn't matter to us. All we care about it what the public sees and learns from the video. The lung cancer messaging in the Dr. Lung Love video is not the only thing viewers learn. They also take home messaging about the importance of health care professionals and the roles they play. It's almost never the case that people intentionally mean to degrade nursing. They do it out of ignorance about who nurses are and what they do to save lives and improve patient outcomes. The response media makers have toward nurses' concerns says more about their real regard for nurses than does the initial media that caused the concern in the first place.

The troubling thing is that the video actually caused harm. And it must be either fixed or removed to stop the continuing damage to nursing.  It's not like we're even asking you to repair the damage that you've done by creating a positive video about nurses. We used to ask for that years ago, but found it pointless. All we want is for you to stop damaging nursing by actually removing the PSA and apologizing to nurses. 

If you craft a sincere apology, I will be happy to distribute it to our members.

Feel free to call. I'm always happy to discuss.

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Founder and Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing 
Co-author: Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland 21212-2937  USA  
phone 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790

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You can also contact:

Laurie Fenton Ambrose, President and CEO
Lung Cancer Alliance
888 16th St, NW, Suite 150
Washington, DC 20006-4103
202-463-2080 (press 8)


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