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News on Nursing in the Media

We have TWO new letters for "Grey's Anatomy" this week. One in regard to this week's episode and one in response to ABC Touchstone's letter to us. Please send letters on both of these items. Thank you.

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ABC's Touchstone sends a response to nurses' concerns on "Grey's Anatomy"

April 14, 2005 -- Today Charissa Gilmore, the Vice President responsible for Media Relations at ABC's Touchstone Television, sent the Center a letter in response to the outpouring of letters from nursing supporters on "Grey's Anatomy." Ms. Gilmore's letter expressed appreciation for nurses and appeared to take their concerns fairly seriously. But it stressed that a nurse advisor was involved in the show's production and that diverse nurse characters did appear on screen, noting that the episode scheduled to air Sunday April 17 would feature a "much loved former nurse" returning to the hospital as a patient. In response, the Center sent a letter explaining that its concern was with what viewers actually saw on screen, and that so far the show had been full of anti-nurse slurs and physician characters performing tasks that nurses do in real life, while nurses were wrongly seen as peripheral subordinates, when they appeared at all. Please read Ms. Gilmore's letter, see our response and send our instant letter or one of your own. Thank you.

Take Action!
"You should reprimand him...make him change bedpans."

April 10, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" featured rampant physician nursing, as the show's surgical interns did many important things that nurses do in real life, while nurses themselves were portrayed as peripheral subordinates. At the same time, the show doesn't seem able to get through an episode without at least one specific expression of contempt for nursing--in this case, a playful remark that associates a certain well-known nursing task with punishment for a junior staff member. Once again, show creator Shonda Rhimes wrote the episode, and the medical advisor was Karen Lisa Pike. ABC is already calling "Grey's Anatomy" one of the biggest new hits of the season, and this episode had a reported 18 million viewers. more...

Midwives credited for second lowest hospital C-section rate in New Jersey, despite serving high-risk community

March 28, 2005 -- Today the Courier News (New Jersey) ran a generally very good piece by Stefanie Matteson about the midwifery program credited with helping the Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center achieve the state's second lowest rate of Caesarian sections, despite serving a low-income urban patient population that is more likely to have high-risk pregnancies. The article highlights the midwives' care model, presents key data and includes good comments from relevant persons, though it could have focused a bit more on the midwives' clinical skill, as opposed to the admirable "cultural climate" they create. more...

Reuters: "Nurses in Nighties Stage South Africa Pajama Protest"

April 14, 2005 -- Today Reuters posted a short unsigned piece reporting that nurses in South Africa's North West province are protesting what they view as inadequate uniform allowances by wearing "pajamas and nighties" to work. Government health officials are reportedly not amused. While the protest could be problematic in view of the enduring "naughty nurse" stereotype, and nurses' long campaign for public respect, we can't help but be impressed with the nurses' unusually creative action on a potentially important issue. more...

Staffing ratios in the Sunshine State?

April 3, 2005 -- Today the MSNBC site posted a substantial piece from the South Florida Business Journal about bills now pending in the Florida legislature that would set specific nurse-patient ratios and ban mandatory overtime. The piece, by Brian Bandell, is a somewhat management-focused look at efforts to impose such ratios, with opponents arguing the measures are costly and impractical in the midst of a critical shortage, and supporters arguing that they will improve care without raising costs in the long run. The piece touches on many of the major issues and even mentions the recent federal staffing bills, though it fails to explore fully certain aspects of the nursing crisis, notably the role of hospital short-staffing as a primary cause of the shortage. Similar bills were reportedly filed in past years in Florida, but this year they are likely to be heard. more...

New Center FAQ:

Q: Are you sure nurses are autonomous? Based on what I've seen, it sure looks like physicians are calling the shots.

A: "What does a woman want?"

-- Dr. Sigmund Freud to Marie Bonaparte, 1925

"I...I want you

-- Steve Diggle (The Buzzcocks), 1978

Nursing is an autonomous, self-governing profession, a distinct scientific discipline with many autonomous practice features. Despite what the media may portray, nursing is not directed by physicians, even though nurses have less practical power than physicians do. In addition to extensive medical expertise, nurses have a unique, holistic patient advocacy focus, a unique scope of practice, and a unique body of knowledge, including special expertise in areas such as patient education, wound care and pain management. more...

Letter-writing campaigns

Please send our three most important instant (or your original) letters: "Grey's Anatomy" letter #3 and letter #4; and our "ER" sponsors campaign.

Message re: patient care delivery models

For those of you innovating patient care delivery models, please see this message:

Ed O’Neil and Bobbi Kimball of Health Workforce Solutions LLC (co-authors of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, Healthcare’s Human Crisis: The American Nursing Shortage) are undertaking research to identify and analyze the best new, innovative patient care delivery models for adults where nurses play primary roles in the delivery of care. The integration of technology, support systems, nurse extenders, new graduates and new roles for nurses that improve quality, efficiency and cost are sought. For more information contact Bobbi Kimball at

Thanks for all that you do to improve nursing's media image.

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Executive Director, The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790


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