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The scrubbed nurse

April 17, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" actually presented a significant nurse character, dying pancreatic cancer patient Elizabeth Fallon. We have to give the show credit for a nurse character who was not a huge problem at first glance. Indeed, the bedridden Fallon was formidable and savvy, and the show suggested that she was an excellent nurse, though it has never offered viewers any hint as to what excellent nursing might consist of. The bad news is that Fallon was also seen as a career physician appendage, and her main professional focus seemed to be gruffly charting the progress of the physicians around her. Otherwise, the show's physician nursing continued unabated. Surgeon characters provided all monitoring, emotional support and advocacy for patients, practiced hospice nursing, and even handled deceptively difficult nursing tasks like enemas and colostomies. The episode was written by James Parriott, and the medical advisor was Karen Lisa Pike, MD. more...

Code Green: Money-Driven Hospitals and the Dismantling of Nursing

2003 -- The title says it all. Sociologist Dana Beth Weinberg's Code Green tells how two Boston hospitals responded to severe market pressures by merging in 1996 to become Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in the process seeming to sacrifice quality nursing care and patient wellbeing on the altar of cost-cutting. The book, though flawed, is a powerful and insightful defense of quality nursing in the managed care era. It presents dedicated professionals who are used to managing their patients' care watching helplessly as short-staffing and restructuring undermine their practice and authority, drive them to burnout, and reduce some to tears. Weinberg suggests that this basic story has become too common across the U.S., though she could have explored the policy implications of what's happened to nursing and what might be done about it in more depth. The book, based on Weinberg's doctoral research, is well written and enlivened by comments drawn from her interviews with hospital personnel. Even so, it remains an academically-oriented work mainly for those interested in health care structures or workplace sociology. Sadly, the book does not acknowledge nursing's unique knowledge base or scope of practice, and it appears to mistake a lower level of power for fundamental subordination, leaving the impression that nurses are skilled physician assistants.


Better living through disclosure

April 15, 2005 -- Today the Kansas City Star published a brief but persuasive editorial by Mary Nash supporting draft Missouri legislation to require disclosure of the ratio of patients to nurses and other direct care workers in the state's hospitals. Ms. Nash is the president of Nurses United for Improved Care. more...

Reader's Digest: "Life, Death & in Between -- A Nurse's Story"

March 2005 -- This month's issue of Reader's Digest (Canada) included as a "Book Choice" an engaging excerpt from Tilda Shalof's A Nurse's Story (2004), which describes the nurse's years working in a Toronto hospital ICU. The excerpt gives the magazine's many readers an honest and thoughtful look at the development of a nurse and some of the key aspects of bedside practice, despite occasional lapses into unhelpful angel imagery. more...

Kansas City Star profiles long-serving "Ask-A-Nurse" telephone resource center

April 20, 2005 -- Today the Kansas City Star ran a generally good piece by Edie Hall about the Shawnee Mission Medical Center's Ask-A-Nurse Resource Center, which has been dispensing important health information for nearly two decades and will soon log its two millionth call. Despite a troubling passage that suggests the nurses just follow a computer program and don't handle "serious" problems, most of the piece is a good look at the life-saving work of the nurses who staff the resource center. more...

Chaos and fractals

April 20, 2005 -- A brief unsigned item dated today on the 123bharath / India News Channel web site reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Bahrain faces a nursing shortage. The piece indicates that the shortage is due at least in part to the growing competition from Europe and the United States for the skilled nurses that the tiny but wealthy Gulf nation used to recruit easily from Asia. more...

Letter-writing campaigns

Please send our three most important instant (or your original) letters: "Grey's Anatomy" letter #5 and letter #4; and our "ER" sponsors campaign.

Thanks for all that you do to improve nursing's media image. We depend on you to get the message about nursing out there.

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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