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News on Nursing in the Media

Can any idiot be a nurse? Don't forget the sponge baths and happy endings!

February 8, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "Scrubs," entitled "My Quarantine" and written by Tad Quill, is a good example of the "just trying to help" school of inaccurate and harmful television nursing depictions, a school epitomized by an October 2003 "ER" episode. Such shows often involve nurse characters confronting difficult situations or negative attitudes in a way that show creators may think is promoting respect for nursing, but which in fact sends even more powerful damaging messages because of the sympathetic intent. In this "Scrubs" episode, the most striking example is a surgeon character's affirmation that "any idiot can be a nurse." We see that the nurse to whom this surgeon is married strongly disagrees--but we never see why. The obvious conclusion: he's rude, but maybe he's right. more...


"Scrubs" has been refusing to set up a telephone call between the Center and its Executive Producer Bill Lawrence. Please call and ask them to schedule a call between Bill Lawrence and the Center. Call 1-818-623-1880, ext. 104. (9-5 Pacific time.) Then please email us at to let us know that you called so we can keep track of how many calls went out. Thank you very much!

JibJab refuses to remove naughty nurse images from its products--PLEASE CALL 310-586-1576 NOW

February 10, 2005 -- Thank you to all who called JibJab to request that the company discuss with the Center its many products featuring an image of President Clinton and two "naughty nurses." The Center has now spoken with Gregg Spiridellis, one of the two brothers who run JibJab. Mr. Spiridellis expressed support for our campaign to improve nursing's image, acknowledging that fictional media products like NBC's "ER" affect the way people think about nursing. However, he does not agree that JibJab's more light-hearted media could have any effect on the way people think about nursing. Accordingly, JibJab has refused to remove any naughty nurse images from its media or merchandise products. However, research has shown that even less "serious" media products such as sitcoms and soap operas have a significant effect on the public's health-related views and actions. The Center believes that, given the historic association of nursing and sex in the public mind, JibJab's naughty nurse images do in fact damage the nursing image at a time of global crisis, and we strongly urge the company to reconsider. See our original JibJab campaign.

Please flood JibJab with phone calls, send our instant letter and protest the use of nursing images in their products. Please call (9-5 Pacific time.) Thank you!

Tickle: Is the best thing about nursing "meeting hot doctors?" Ha ha! Just joking!

February 8, 2005 -- Tickle, the "leading interpersonal media company" now owned by Monster, is offering a 15-question online test called "Who's Your Inner Nurse?" The test, a sly vehicle to direct nurses and others into the site's employment services, invites us to choose from a series of stereotypes that, despite being lighthearted, reflect ignorance of the real nature and value of nursing. Some of the potential answers are presumably "jokes," like "meeting hot doctors" as an option for "the best thing about nursing." Others reinforce stereotypes through positive choices, such as the one inviting respondents to report that patients find them gentle, cheerful, dependable, or selfless (as opposed to skilled, innovative, or hard-working). And some questions simply invite people to think of nursing as trivial, such as the one that gives test takers the chance to specify that they wouldn't "make [their] rounds without" their "[s]tickers and lollipops." None of the questions reflects awareness that nurses are highly skilled professionals with years of college-level training who save and materially improve lives daily. After discussions with the Center, Tickle grudgingly agreed to remove the "Inner Nurse" test, but declined to substitute the revised test the Center helpfully provided. On the upside, the company did not issue a statement assuring us that it never meant to offend nurses, because they're so cute, kind and selfless. more...

"I should be thinking of the future of our kids"

February 3, 2005 -- Today National Public Radio's Morning Edition ran a very good report by Michael Sullivan, "Number of Philippine Nurses Emigrating Skyrockets." The balanced, comprehensive piece includes audio clips from a Manila hospital nursing executive, a senior nurse who is about to emigrate, the physician who directs the Philippines' National Institutes of Health, and government officials. The Philippines has long relied on remittances from workers abroad. But the fact that the nation is now exporting 15,000 nurses each year to developed nations like the United States, where they can make 20 times what they do in the Philippines, reportedly poses a serious long term threat to an already fragile and overburdened local health system. more...

Nurses for newborns

February 3, 2005 -- Today The Tennessean ran Larry Bivins' Gannett News Service piece about the St. Louis-based Nurses for Newborns program, which provides vital home care to low-income, at-risk mothers and newborn infants. The medium-length piece provides a generally good look at this program, with quotes from a local patient, a physician who co-directs the local program, supportive Member of Congress Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), and two of the program's key local patrons, Tennessee Titans football player Fred Miller and his wife Kim. Can you guess the one relevant category not represented with a quote in this otherwise commendable piece about "Nurses for Newborns?" We thought so. more...

Undercover angels!

January 30, 2005 -- Today the Guardian (U.K.) web site posted a balanced piece by Jamie Doward, "Row erupts over secret filming of hospital filth," about a Channel 4 documentary based on the work of two nurses with hidden cameras who captured "appalling conditions" at two British hospitals, including poor sanitation and infection control practices in the care of elderly patients. Key issues raised by the documentary, "Dispatches: Undercover Angels," include the responsibility of nurses and other staff for the poor conditions, the appropriateness of the use of undercover cameras by caregivers on duty, and when the mass media will stop calling nurses "angels." more...

Are nurses "blue-collar" workers?

Charles Osgood photoFebruary 4, 2005 -- Today CBS radio commentator Charles Osgood included in his regular radio piece an item called "High Demand for Blue Collar Workers" (scroll down). In this category he included the construction trades, electricians, HVAC, auto repair, landscaping, and nursing. The item was very positive about the jobs, making clear that these workers are "skilled" and that community colleges train them, but it also had a quote from one business owner suggesting that such blue collar workers should be proud in part because "[y]ou're not weird if you don't want to go to college." All of the above are skilled, important jobs requiring significant post-high school training. However, we don't believe any but nursing has granted close to a million bachelor's degrees and hundreds of thousands of graduate degrees, and has thousands of doctorally-prepared members working on the cutting edge of scientific research. Thus, we are concerned that nursing's inclusion may not convey to job seekers or the public the full nature of the profession. Center supporter Mary Dominiak, RN, MSN, MBA, sent Mr. Osgood a letter to register her objection to him. See the letter, send one of your own or post your thoughts on our discussion board.

New Center FAQ:

Q: OK, if I promise to say "physicians," not "doctors," may I go to the "physician's office?" May I "take my loved one to the physician?"

A: No. Whether you see a physician, nurse or some other primary care professional, you should go to the "advanced practitioner's office," "primary care provider's office" or the "health provider's office." Today, non-physician practitioners are increasingly assuming primary health care duties that used to be the exclusive province of physicians, and doing a great job. Our language should reflect this important change in modern health care. more...

Please remember our letter-writing campaigns. If you agree with them, please join them!

JibJab; "Scrubs"; Smart Money; Bras 'n Things; "ER"; 3 Wishes Lingerie; "Passions"

Please help us make this work. Thank you!

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

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