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News on Nursing in the Media

Center urges corporate giants to divest from NBC's "ER"

February 25, 2005 -- The Center for Nursing Advocacy has launched a campaign asking 23 major corporate sponsors of the NBC/Warner television drama "ER" to refrain from placing further advertising on the popular show worldwide until it dramatically improves its portrayal of nurses.
see the full press release...

Join our "ER" sponsors campaign! Click here to learn how.

"She's the nurse, maybe she doesn't know"

February 17, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," written by Dee Johnson, associates nursing with embarrassingly invasive or unpleasant procedures whose value viewers are unlikely to see. Meanwhile physicians direct the obviously key treatment, demonstrate the important knowledge, conduct the dramatic patient relations, and get all credit for patient outcomes. In the episode, "Alone in a Crowd," a stroke patient discounts nurse character Sam Taggart's reassuring smile because "she's the nurse, maybe she doesn't know" how bad the patient's condition is. We see little in the show to contradict this view. Later, Taggart acknowledges to the stroke patient that another patient's incontinence brief is "pretty stinky," and cheerfully says "welcome to my world" as she goes to change it. The episode is a stroke edutainment vehicle, and it features a virtual ad for the Merci blood clot retrieval system, but the message it sends millions of viewers about nurses is far less glowing. In fact, it's pretty stinky. Welcome to our world. more...

Girlie men? Manly girls? The Governator and nursing's gender issues

February 22, 2005 -- Today CNN's web site posted an unsigned AP story about recent charges by California nurses and teachers that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's policies and attitude toward them--including his references to them as "special interests"--reflect an ingrained hostility to women and "women's occupations." Probably unintentionally, the piece raises difficult questions about how society sees nursing, and how nurses advocate for their profession, including the pros and cons of using the profession's predominant gender as a political weapon. more...

Playground scrapes, tummy aches, and terrorist attacks

February 21, 2005 -- Today the New York Times ran an AP story by Joe Milicia under the headline "School Nurses Want More Terror Preparation. " The relatively brief piece does a good job of stressing the importance of school nurses as first responders to potential terrorist attacks in the post-9/11 era, even as many of the nurses now face serious short-staffing and a lack of resources. However, even though the piece actually mentions "lack of respect" as a barrier to school nurses getting training, a few of its elements may subtly reinforce regressive stereotypes about the nurses' work. In fact, school nurses provide vital preventative and other care, as students attend with more serious chronic conditions and less access to other care. more...

The Australian: "Rise of the super nurse"

February 12, 2005 -- Today The Australian ran a generally very good piece by Adam Cresswell about the growing role of Australian nurse practitioners (NPs) in managing chronic heart failure, a critical and costly problem in Australia. The piece does a fine job of highlighting the benefits nurses can bring to this field, especially in its focus on the positive effect of the holistic nursing "model" on patient outcomes--that is, the NPs are not simply aping physicians. However, the piece might have explored the apparent physician objections to the nurses' work in more detail, and the "super nurse" approach to NP media coverage continues to make us uncomfortable to the extent it can be read to denigrate non-NP nurses. more...

The Power and the Glory

February 3, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," physician Lisa Zwerling's "Middleman," offered its 18 million viewers a compelling, nuanced endorsement of physician dominance in hospital care, showing why "ER" is simply without peer in fostering disinformation and disrespect as to other highly skilled caregivers. The episode follows the tragic results when a social worker fails to prevail upon an impatient ED resident, whose authority supposedly "trumps" hers, to allow her to finish assessing an abused child. It reinforces the idea that physicians do and should direct all hospital care by showing what can happen when their awesome power is abused. But it does not question that power. Instead, an authoritative attending physician and even the social worker herself underline the supposed hierarchy's value. more...

Strong Medicine review updated to include 2004-2005 season

Lifetime's "Strong Medicine" is a basic cable drama with two goals: to explore the lives and achievements of female physicians, and to promote understanding of women's health. Sadly, the show's good intentions can't redeem its often ham-handed plotting, dialogue and direction. Its overall portrayal of nursing is fairly poor. It has a very positive nurse character in alterna-hunk Peter Riggs, a nurse-midwife who displays knowledge and some autonomy. But even his intermittent appearances are undermined, and finally outweighed, by the show's vision of physicians as the masters of all health care. Other nurses--when they appear at all--are almost always faceless servants, silent and submissive. more...

Center's "ER" sponsors campaign now underway -- success depends on you!

As you may know, our 3+ year campaign has not sufficiently motivated the makers of NBC's "ER" to portray nursing accurately. So we are ratcheting up the pressure by asking "ER"'s corporate sponsors to get involved. On Wednesday, I sent 23 major sponsors packets which included: a letter requesting that they refrain from placing further ads on "ER," our "ER" review, our "ER" action page, and the first 100 pages of letters from our "ER" discussion board. We are giving the sponsors until Monday to process the mail, then our board, advisory panel and I will contact them.

On Tuesday March 1 is when you come in. On Tuesday, we will ask you to phone and write letters, using contact information we will provide, to help persuade these corporate advertisers to join our "ER" campaign. Specifically, we would like the sponsors to do two things: 1) refrain from further advertising on "ER" until the show dramatically improves its portrayal of nursing; and 2) call "ER" producers to ask them to improve their portrayal. These companies do not make the relevant email addresses available, so we must call and use snail mail. We will need as many volunteers as possible to make these quick but vital contacts. Contacts from nonprofit staff alone are rarely enough to sway large corporations. We need you. When we speak in great numbers, we have a great effect. Please keep in mind that we are NOT calling for a boycott of these companies. We are simply asking for their help-- and they will be more likely to respond if many consumers contact them.

I will send out more information about the "ER" sponsors campaign on Tuesday. In the meantime, if you haven't sent "ER" a letter, please do that now. And please read our "ER" action page to learn more about why we believe that "ER" is the world's most influential purveyor of the handmaiden image of nursing. THANK YOU!

Volunteering with the Center

Many of you have offered to help us with our work, but we haven't had a good system to manage our volunteers, until now. We have just developed a special section on our discussion board where we will list the tasks with which we need help, so that volunteers can come together to help the Center. If you would like to join our list of volunteers, please: 1) click on our discussion board and register (free) as a member (this is different from becoming a supporting member of the Center); and 2) email me your username so that I can put you on our volunteer discussion board. Starting this week we will need volunteers to help with the "ER" campaign, so if you can help--even with small tasks--please sign up for our volunteer list. You can work from home, our office, or anywhere else. Thank you!

In the meantime, please remember our other letter-writing campaigns. If you agree with them, please join them!

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

We need your help to 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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