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Telling doctors what they ought to try

July 18, 2005 -- As a result of a Center campaign started July 8, over 500 nurses, physicians and others from Canada, the United States and beyond have written to protest the "Nurses' Song" sung by some University of Alberta medical students at their recent "MedShow," an irreverent annual event. Lyrics called nurses "wh*res" and "b*tches" whose "incompetence" and persistence in "telling doctors what they ought to try" threatened to "make our patients die." On July 14, the Edmonton Journal ran a fairly detailed piece on the Center's campaign. In response to the campaign, university officials again expressed regret about the show, and stated that the students responsible do not really hold the views stated in the lyrics. In addition, the University's Medical Students Association has issued a commendable apology to nurses. The University and many students have argued that given the self-mocking context and the extreme nature of the stereotypes involved, the students felt the song would be understood as a "parody," not an endorsement, of the views expressed. But because the context was ambiguous and the lyrics are a mix of toxic views that many physicians and members of the public actually do hold, the Center finds it more plausible that the song was intended as a comic "roast," as other medical students have argued. Even if intended as a parody, the song's reckless presentation of views that are driving the global nursing shortage in a "comic" context suggests a dangerous lack of understanding of nursing. The Center continues to urge the university to discipline the individual students responsible, and to establish a permanent program to ensure that future medical students understand the vital role nurses play and how physicians can avoid contributing to the nursing crisis and poor patient care. See our full analysis here and please join our letter-writing campaign. We need more letters on this!

Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost-Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nursing and Patient Care

Suzanne Gordon's Nursing Against the Odds is a searing indictment of the denursification of developed world health care and the associated nursing shortage. Gordon (a member of the Center's advisory panel) links the nursing crisis to the three factors cited in her subtitle, which presents a handy executive summary of the book. She uses research and anecdotes to explain why skilled nursing is vital to patient outcomes, and she spares virtually no one with responsibility for the crisis, including nurses themselves. The book could be more balanced. Parts seem to reflect a lack of respect for nurses who do not work at the "bedside" and for some key nursing principles. The book suggests that nurses are essentially physician "subordinates" with no real autonomy, and that nurses' embrace of holism and patient advocacy is largely bogus. But this well-written, generally persuasive account of nursing in the managed care era is still one of the most important books published about the profession in recent times. And despite the bleakness of much of its analysis, the book makes a serious effort to point the way forward, offering concrete and far-reaching policy ideas to alleviate the crisis and avert the looming health catastrophe. See the full review...

New Center FAQ:

Q: Nurses are just wonderful, but you really can't expect Hollywood to focus on them, can you? After all, popular media products have to be dramatic and exciting. Why don't you just focus on getting a nursing documentary on PBS or basic cable?

A: Because the work of nurses is at least as dramatic as that of physicians, and getting the wider public to understand that would be of great value in resolving the nursing shortage that is one of the world's most pressing public health problems. More than a few Hollywood insiders have expressed to us some version of the sentiments in the above FAQ. But contrary to the current popular and mass media image, nurses are expert professionals who save lives autonomously--that is, in pursuit of their unique nursing scope of practice, not physician commands. They confront some of the most exciting human, policy and technological challenges in modern health care. These range from the extreme high-tech of teaching hospital ICU's, to chaotic urban level one trauma centers, to major health policymaking and research centers, to small community health projects where lives are changed, to war zones and development and humanitarian relief projects around the world. more...

Help answer a survey on your childhood experiences

Doris Young, RN, is writing a book and in preparing information for it, she is surveying nurses on their childhood backgrounds. If you would like to participate, please click here to open the survey in pdf (or in doc). Thank you.

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We are a member supported organization. Please make a member donation today to allow us to bring you news on nursing in the media and campaigns to improve the nursing image. Your tax-deductible donation will earn you cool free gifts (pictured below) including our new RN patches with credentials. Click here to learn 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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