News on Nursing in the Media
The young quarterback
January 18, 2005 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "Scrubs," written by Mark Stegemann, presents nurses as wide-eyed subordinates whose job during codes is to call out a vital sign or two, then wait for heroic, all-knowing physicians to issue commands and save the day. The episode, directed by Ken Whittingham, is entitled "My Ocardial Infarction." It could have been worse; the nurses are shown to have some knowledge and some role in codes. On balance, it's not much of an improvement for "Scrubs," which has virtually ignored nursing this year, though it may be a step up for Stegemann, whose horrific 2003 episode "My Fifteen Seconds" purported to teach nurses that nursing was all about shutting up and following physician orders. Click here to read more and send a letter to "Scrubs"!
January 5, 2005 -- "Meet the Fockers," the sequel to "Meet the Parents," has a scene in which demanding ex-CIA agent Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) cautions future son-in-law and nurse Gaylord Focker (Ben Stiller) not to "infantilize" Jack's infant grandson. The movie itself cheerfully fails to heed this advice, dominated as it is by puerile body humor and uninspired physical gags. This artistic decline seems to infect the film's limited treatment of nursing. Whereas the funny original made a serious effort to undermine Jack's "male nurse" stereotypes, the sequel shows Jack why it's OK to be a nurse generally, even if it is a job for the mediocre and unambitious. more...
January 18, 2005 -- Today the New York Times ran Marc Santora's piece "For Surgery, an Automated Helping Hand," which describes the work of surgeon Dr. Michael Treat and his team, who are developing a robot called Penelope that Treat said will some day replace scrub nurses in operating rooms. This robot may well prove to be a helpful surgical tool, and we salute Dr. Treat and his team for their promising work. Unfortunately, the Times piece reflects Treat's own apparent undervaluation of what scrub nurses actually do, giving readers a misimpression of these critical OR professionals and a dangerously flawed vision of OR care. The article appears to reflect no input from the nurses whose work it ostensibly concerns. Since the article ran, both Marc Santora and Michael Treat have, commendably, told the Center that they regret the effect this article will likely have on public understanding of nursing, and they have vowed to publicly repair the damage done. more...
January 20, 2005 -- On January 6th, the New York Times ran Jane Perlez' "For Many Tsunami Survivors, Battered Bodies, Few Choices." The lengthy front-page piece described care in Indonesia's Aceh province as being provided almost exclusively by physicians, and with its reliance solely on expert comment by physicians, the Center argued in an analysis that no one could possibly come away from it thinking nurses or other health care workers are doing anything of significance in the stricken province. See the Center's full analysis of the Times article here. Since our analysis appeared, we have received messages from several of the physicians profiled in Perlez' piece, and one of their nursing colleagues who was ignored in the piece. The messages took us to task in vigorous (and at times personal) terms; some suggested, inexplicably, that we had faulted the work of the nurses Perlez ignored. See two messages that reflect some understanding of our analysis, followed by our response.
January 16, 2005 -- The Center is thrilled to announce that non-stereotypical Philadelphia nurse Keynan Hobbs has won our Soap Nurse Sweepstakes for supplying the most examples of non-stereotypical soap opera nurse characters. The winning entry--which also happened to be the only entry--identified three nurse characters from the South African "edutainment" television series "Soul City" who do appear to be more than simply tired, regressive stereotypes. Mr. Hobbs, your Nurse Action Figure is on the way! more...
New Center FAQ:
A: In our view, the quality of a given work is an important indicator of how much overall influence it is likely to have, and in turn how much impact its depiction of nursing will have. This is not to say that the works we think are of high overall quality will necessarily get a large audience at the time they are released, though that is sometimes the case, as with Ian McEwan's book "Atonement" (2001). But high quality works that draw only a few viewers or readers at first may continue to generate interest for decades. Movies like "Talk to Her" (2002) and "Wit" (2001) may continue to attract viewers long after many more popular contemporary films have been forgotten. Influential works will continue to attract attention from artists, critics, academics, journalists and others with cultural influence, and will thus influence those who shape future works. One story about the seminal rock band The Velvet Underground was that only a few hundred people bought their records--but everyone who did started a band. Thus, a high quality work is likely to have a stronger effect on each viewer who does see it than one of lower quality will. In addition, in some cases, it may be difficult to convey the effect of a nursing portrayal without discussing a work's overall themes and characteristics. more...
Pep talk to our news alert subscribers from the Center's executive director
Currently about 1,350 supporters receive our news alerts. In our last news alert, we had two new letter-writing campaigns. But so far we've received only 24 letters on our Smart Money campaign (about a physician who strongly implied that nurse anesthetists are inferior to physician anesthesiologists), and only 16 letters on our Bras 'n Things campaign (about a major Australian retailer selling a naughty nurse outfit in its 150+ stores). Do you remember our successful Skechers and Dr. Phil campaigns? Nurses and our supporters sent a flood of 3,000+ and 1,300+ letters respectively to the creators of these negative images. We get results when we speak in unison and en masse! But when only half of 1% of our supporters send letters on our campaigns, it is more difficult to have an impact and get results. We're sorry to report this, but at this stage in remaking our image, many of those who create damaging media about nurses pay little attention to our concerns unless we flood them with letters of concern. We thank those who sent letters on last week's campaign, and we urge everyone else to join them for maximum impact.
So please make a pledge to send letters on all our campaigns and circulate them to your colleagues, friends, families, students, listservs and associations. It literally takes less than 3 minutes per week. We create the letters and all you have to do is type in your info and hit the send button. We are working toward a more streamlined system that will require less typing for you, but that will require more time and funding, so please bear with us. We have one new campaign above, but please don't forget our other campaigns which you can always find on our campaigns page. We're counting on you to help us make this work. Thank you!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21212-2937
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