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News on Nursing in the Media

In the midst of life we are in death

August 21, 2005 -- Tonight's series finale of HBO's "Six Feet Under" was a fitting sendoff for the funeral-directing Fisher family. It offered a powerful, if at times overwrought, vision of human mortality. But the episode also marginalized nursing in two significant subplots, an ironic slight given that nurses may confront death and dying more directly and more often than any other clinical health care professionals. The finale, "Everyone's Waiting," was written and directed by show creator Alan Ball. more...

From giants to just plain folks

August 23, 2005 -- In an essay in today's New York Times, "Practicing Medicine Without a Swagger," Columbia physician Barron H. Lerner suggests that the days when physicians arrogantly "ruled the roost" are over. He says that while those days "may have been fun," today physicians are more likely to be treated as "employees" than "royalty." And "most hospital employees, including physicians, believe that the humbling of doctors has been for the best." The piece suggests that all that's left of physicians' former power are "occasional reminders" and "periodic perks." Dr. Lerner deserves credit for his discussion of past abuses. But his piece trivializes the continuing problem of undue physician power, ignoring the extent to which the medical hubris it describes affects patient outcomes and undermines nursing practice, and offering a subtle whitewash of disruptive physician conduct, which is a significant factor in the global nursing crisis. more...

Dorothea Dix biography

An early nursing pioneer, Dorothea Lynde Dix was a noted humanitarian, reformer, educator and crusader. She is perhaps best known for her patient advocacy in fighting to improve the conditions of jails and mental asylums in North America and Europe. Departing a 24-year career as a school teacher, Dorothea Dix began her second career at the age of 39 when she embarked on a career as a nurse. Dix was not educated as a nurse, but modern nursing did not yet exist. In fact, Dix became one of modern nursing's pioneers, pursuing the core value that drives the provision of all other nursing care: patient advocacy. more...

This biography was written by guest author Vasantha Reddi. It makes the second in our series of pioneer biographies designed to succinctly educate the world how these nurses saved lives and improved outcomes. We are working to create more biographies on nursing greats, so if you would like to volunteer to write a bio for us on a nursing pioneer, please let us know!

Scrubs review updated to reflect 2004-2005 season

August 26, 2005 -- "Scrubs" remains one of the better sitcoms to debut in recent years, though it has clearly lost some steam, a development reflected in its mid-season fill-in status for the 2005-2006 season set to begin next month. An irreverent, at times hilarious show with gifted actors, it poses the question: what if a hospital was staffed by insult comics? "Scrubs" has trained its lacerating wit mainly on the professional and personal lives of several young physicians. Perhaps as a counterpoint to the put-downs, the show relies heavily on fantasy sequences and sentimental musings on life by its goofy, insecure lead character J.D.. This may seem a little too much like "Ally McBeal," but somehow "Scrubs" usually manages not to be cloying. And despite the nasty and surreal elements, its characters are not above learning or growing, as they try to cope with the very real stresses of life and death at the hospital. The show's portrayal of nursing has been far less impressive. It does have a major and positive nurse character in Carla Espinosa. And a few plotlines have had surprisingly thoughtful takes on nursing issues, such as the decision to become a nurse practitioner, bigotry towards male nurses, nurses' informal teaching of residents, and nurse-physician tension. But on the whole the show continues to reflect the prevailing Hollywood vision of nurses as peripheral health workers with limited skills who report to physicians. Indeed, the nurses' lives often seem to revolve around those of physicians, who are seen as the providers of most if not all meaningful health care. more...

Latest verses in the "Nurses' Song": University of Alberta Medshow finished; CBC covers Center campaign; University promises Sigma Theta Tau "major emphasis" on interdisciplinary education

August 10, 2005 -- Recent weeks have seen several encouraging developments in the Center's campaign with regard to the "Nurses' Song" sung at the recent University of Alberta Medshow, though in our view the University's response still falls short of what is needed to eliminate the anti-nurse attitudes reflected in the song. On July 27, the President and the CEO of nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau International wrote a letter to the University's board of governors, and on that same day, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio ran a story about the Center's campaign by Adrienne Lamb. The University's board chair James S. Edwards today responded to Sigma Theta Tau with a letter promising that "[t]here will be no Med Show in future." He stated that former University nursing Dean Genevieve Gray had received a "full apology" from the 2005 show organizers and the Medical Students' Association. Edwards also stressed that the medical school will be "placing a major emphasis on interdisciplinary and interprofessional education" at a new "Health Sciences Ambulatory Learning Centre," and that the medical students already take part in an interdisciplinary student-led clinic for local street youth. The letter also repeats the medical students' defense that the song was merely intended to "mock an antiquated stereotype." This is a dubious position given the song's range of still-current slurs, including several that reflect very credible resentment of modern nurses' inclinations to weigh in on care plans and demand decent working conditions, all presented in a context that was at best ambiguous. Moreover, to our knowledge Dean Gray has not received a "full apology" from the 2005 MedShow organizers, who have yet to be publicly identified or disciplined. And none of this necessarily means that future medical students will receive any significant additional education by nursing experts as to the vital contributions nurses make. Thus, though we applaud the measures taken, we urge supporters to continue applying pressure to the University to ensure that it undertakes meaningful reform. more...

Thank you for helping us to improve nursing's media image. Please circulate our news alerts to your colleagues or post them on a bulletin board at work or school if you can, to help empower other nurses and/or students, and encourage them to take a leading role in working to educate the world about the value of nursing. Thank you.

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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