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"Grey's Anatomy": New ABC show boasts nine physician characters, no nurses

March 2005 -- On Sunday, March 27, at 10 p.m. (9c), ABC will broadcast the premiere of "Grey's Anatomy," a new television drama about the experiences of a group of physician interns, especially women, struggling to cope in a tough Seattle surgical program. We're trying to keep an open mind, but with a staggering nine out of nine recurring characters apparently surgeons, the show seems poised to offer millions of viewers yet another regressive, physican-centric drama in a season that has been crammed full of them. Because of the demonstrated influence of network dramas on the public's health-related views and actions, we hope all nurses--but especially OR nurses--will watch and let the show's producers know what they think. more...

Million Dollar Baby

"Million Dollar Baby" is another of Clint Eastwood's flinty meditations on wounded people fighting to protect what they hold dear in a very cruel world. It centers on a burned-out L.A. boxing veteran who reluctantly agrees to train an aspiring female contender from a Missouri trailer park. There are tired plot elements and weak minor characters and scenes. But the film is still powerful and persuasive, thanks to some good writing, great acting by the leads, and Eastwood's restrained direction. Unfortunately, it includes a minor but awful portrayal of rehabilitation nursing, which is sacrificed to the larger need to show the central characters struggling with the choices fate presents. more...

Are you man enough to talk about your erectile dysfunction with a bunch of nurses?

March 2005 -- Boston Medical Group (BMG), a company that runs clinics in several nations specializing in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED), has recently been running radio ads in the US that assure potential patients that they will not need to discuss their ED with nurses. Specifically, the ads feature an ED "patient" who states that he does not want to talk with a "bunch of nurses," and an announcer then assures listeners that at BMG, he will not. This ad may well reflect the company's overall marketing strategy (which is clear from its web site) to reassure men who do not wish to discuss their ED with women, rather than any intentional disrespect for nurses. But the ad may still encourage many listeners to regard nurses as a gaggle of incompetent or insensitive females. After letters from three people, BMG has vowed to pull the ad. more...

The monkey business

March 2005 -- Bam Bam, the orangutan who has played "Nurse Precious" on NBC's campy soap "Passions" since March 2003, is set to leave the show with the episode to be broadcast Thursday, March 24. The Center started a campaign in September 2003 to persuade the show to end this depiction, which included Bam Bam actually doing some private duty "nursing," along with the expected comic hijinks. We argued that however riotously funny this all was, the idea that nursing could be done by a monkey came too close to what much of society has long believed nurses really do, and that such media images exacerbate the nursing crisis. Indeed, nurses have been told by physicians and hospital representatives that monkeys could do their jobs. more...

The Nurses' View

March 14, 2005 -- Today the CBS television affiliate in Boston, CBS4, ran an edition of its weekly "The Women's View" segment that ostensibly was a discussion of "medication errors" with four local bedside nurses. The piece, featuring anchor Lisa Hughes, amounted to a compelling infomercial arguing that short-staffing has caused the nursing shortage and pushing proposed safe staffing legislation. While the complete lack of balance might undermine the piece's credibility for some who are familiar with the controversial issues involved, the nurses' presentation was a striking example of patient advocacy. more...

A Modest Proposal

March 11, 2005 -- Today the Baltimore Sun published a piece by Stephanie Shapiro about local oncology nurse practitioner Caryn Andrews, who recently completed her doctorate at the University of Maryland with research examining the role of "modesty" in the reluctance of some Jewish women to get regular mammograms. The story obviously conveys the helpful message that nurses can earn doctorates in nursing, and it is a pretty good account of important nursing research, though it fails to explain the full clinical significance of Andrews' work--i.e., how it could mean the difference between life and death. more...

A beautiful death

March 11, 2005 -- Today the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a significant profile of Fox Chase hospice nurse Bunny Dugan as part of the ongoing series "Cancer Chronicles" by staff writer Fawn Vrazo, who herself has metastatic breast cancer. The piece is very good in explaining the nature and merits of hospice care, and placing it in the larger context of the United States' "skittishness about death." It also does a good job of showing the importance of the emotional support hospice nurses like Dugan provide and how difficult their work can be, though it could have done more to bring out the significant clinical skills the work requires. That would have helped readers better understand that hospice nurses are highly trained professionals. more...

New Center FAQ:

Q: Do physicians help nurses improve health?

A: Yes. Physicians provide critical assistance as nurses and public health workers pursue their overall mission to restore and maintain the health of society. Like nurses, physicians have significant clinical skills. Nurses generally take a more holistic approach to the health and wellbeing of patients and communities, whereas most physicians are specialists who handle specific illnesses and conditions that persons may encounter at particular points in their lives. Thus, though nurses' primary focus is to prevent illness through advocacy and education, to promote healing and protect the ill from any factor that may threaten their wellbeing, physicians provide vital technical expertise in diagnosis and treatment when someone does encounter a disease or illness that requires medical intervention, such as surgery. Nurses typically coordinate such care by physicians and other professionals in hospitals and other settings. more...

Update on Virgin Mobile campaign

Virgin Mobile has responded to the 100 people who wrote through the Center's web site (Canadian nursing organizations are also generating letters). Based on a letter from the company and a phone conversation the Center had with its PR person, it appears that the company will not remove the remaining "naughty nurse" point-of-sale cardboard cutouts, but neither will it increase the number of these images--as originally planned--when the ad campaign enters "stage 2" in about two months. Apparently these "naughty nurse" images do not appear in the campaign's television commercials. Of course, the images we saw in the initial event involving Richard Branson cannot be undone. The company has expressed regret that the images offended us, but not for the ads themselves. Virgin Mobile's response seems to be a token effort to manage what it probably views as nurses' inexplicable sensitivities, and it is not to be confused with a real apology. Please keep sending the letters by clicking here--it just takes a minute.

Update on the "ER" campaign

We have received copies of 160+ letters sent so far to the six "ER" sponsors who are accessible by email. And 12 supporters wrote to say that they had snail mailed letters to the remaining 18 sponsors. Thank you very much! The sponsors are starting to respond, and some do appear to understand our concerns, but so far none has actually agreed to refrain from further ad placements on "ER." One sponsor has stated that it plans to discuss our concerns with those involved with the show, and we will keep you informed of any progress. But we will need many more letters to make a meaningful impression. Please click here to send that instant email to "ER"'s sponsors now--really, it just takes a minute.

We also want to print out hard copies of your emails and send them to the sponsors, but this is logistically challenging given that we have a staff of 1.25 volunteers here at the office. We will try, but it would be a lot easier if we could hire someone to give us a hand. Please make a donation today to help us get this done and apply some more serious pressure on "ER." Don't forget--research shows that youngsters get their strongest impression of nursing from "ER." It's no wonder the kids in that study thought nursing was a lowly technical job for "girls." Please join us in our campaign. Thank you for working with us to create a more positive image of nursing!

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21212-2937

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