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News on Nursing in the Media

Let's put on a show!

May 20, 2005 -- Today NPR's Morning Edition ran a piece by Patricia Neighmond taking a remarkably uncritical look at what is reportedly the first web-based "reality show," a project produced by a California travel nurse agency that NPR says is called "Nurse TV" (promotional materials call it "13 Weeks"). Despite the project's stated goal of improving the nursing image at a time of shortage, the five-minute NPR piece treats it mostly as a new media convergence story. In fact, the show could spark some increased interest in nursing, though it is not yet clear whether it will tell the public much about the actual value of nursing work, as opposed to what we assume will be six attractive young nurses pursuing personal non-work goals and activities at a beach mansion. Of course, the project may do much to promote the business of sponsor Access Nursing, as well as the explosion of travel and temporary nursing, which some regard as a dangerous symptom of the current nursing crisis. The NPR piece--web-headlined "Reality TV Tackles Nurse Shortage"--appears to be utterly oblivious of this larger nursing context. more...

Faces of Caring: Nurses at Work

May 6-31, 2005 -- Can still photography convey nursing science? An exhibit of impressively diverse new photos on display at New York University (NYU) through May 31, "Faces of Caring: Nurses at Work," makes a valiant effort. At times, it succeeds. And many of the images that will not really give most viewers a sense of nursing knowledge and skill still show the human connection that is a key part of the profession. Yes, people already know that nurses spend time with patients, and given our shared assumptions, some of the photos are susceptible to an angel reading. But they remind us of the joy and pain that nurses can share with their patients, even in the managed care era. Some of the photos are more artistically successful than others, but most 3 starshave something to say about nurses and care today--even when the only "faces" you can see are those of the patients. read more and learn how to go see the exhibit...

Your Aspiring National Nurse

May 20, 2005 -- Today The New York Times published an op-ed by Oregon nurse Teri Mills arguing that the United States should address the nursing shortage by "dethron[ing] the surgeon general and appoint[ing] a National Nurse." The basic idea is that while the nation's "head doctor" has failed to connect with the public, nursing's focus on preventative care and patient education would enable the National Nurse both to teach the nation about health and to highlight the daily achievements of nursing. Despite its somewhat half-baked quality and a few other problems, the op-ed is a punchy piece of patient and nursing advocacy with some good, common-sense ideas to improve public health. We salute Ms. Mills for writing the op-ed and The Times for publishing it (however serious its intent in doing so may be). Oh, we almost forgot--though the op-ed fails to mention it, Ms. Mills is a vocal supporter of 2004 presidential candidate and current DNC Chair Howard Dean who has promoted herself in the blogosphere as "your aspiring National Nurse" since at least 2003. Is that a kooky coincidence or what? more...

Nursing Against the Odds released; scores OK New York Times review

May 17, 2005 -- Suzanne Gordon's new book, Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses and Patient Care, has now been released. The book's subtitle extends its influence by supplying a nice 15-word executive summary even to those too busy to read it. Yesterday the New York Times posted a significant review of the book by science writer Cornelia Dean. The well-written review seems mildly positive and it presents a good, if somewhat rambling, description of some of the book's key points. However, it offers no critical analysis and seems to underplay the book's criticisms of health care players other than nurses themselves, ignoring, for instance, the book's lengthy discussion of the role of physicians in the crisis. Ms. Dean and the Times do deserve credit for giving the book such wide exposure. more...

The Varieties of Nurses' Day Experience

May 12, 2005 -- On May 12, nurses and supporters across the globe celebrated International Nurses Day (also Florence Nightingale's birthday) with an impressive range of activities. In South Africa, Xoliswa Zulu, a reporter for The Mercury, tried to follow nurses around on a 12-hour shift at a busy city hospital--but appeared to become overwhelmed with exhaustion (and appreciation) less than half way through the shift. In India, Lopamudra Maitra marked the day by publishing a May 11 piece on the expressindia web site about the changing demographics of Indian nurses and the increasing demand for them abroad. This piece lacked needed context. In the United States, noted journalist Suzanne Gordon published a strong op-ed piece in the Boston Globe arguing that nurses should be honored not merely with once-a-year "angel"-oriented lip service, but with passage of the mandatory safe staffing legislation currently pending before the Massachusetts legislature. And in San Francisco, the California Nurses Association (CNA) honored Nightingale (the "original nursing activist") by holding a protest against Johnson & Johnson--noted for its $30 million nursing recruitment campaign--because of the drug giant's alleged support of a statewide measure to "silence" nurses and other public employees in the political process, and its efforts to defeat measures designed to lower drug prices. The CNA story does not appear to have been covered by the mainstream media; perhaps it was just too difficult to reconcile with the prevailing angel image. Happy nurses day! more...

Boston Globe op-ed: "Nurse understaffing harms patients"

May 12, 2005 -- Today noted journalist and relentless nursing advocate Suzanne Gordon marked National Nurses Week with an important, well-written op-ed piece in the Boston Globe. The piece argues that the best way to honor nurses is not through more of the traditional lip service and self-sacrificing "angel" imagery that has often been used to exploit nurses, but through passage of safe staffing legislation like that pending before the Massachusetts legislature, which in her view would relieve the dangerous short-staffing that has driven many nurses from the bedside. The op-ed takes on some of the claims presented by Massachusetts hospitals and nurse executives who oppose mandatory staffing ratios, and although the piece might have done a bit more to counter these, it is effective in arguing that voluntary measures will not be adequate to address the current nursing crisis. more...

Serenading the unsung heroines in South Africa

May 12, 2005 -- Xoliswa Zulu's follow-a-nurse piece in The Mercury today is entitled "Have You Thanked a Nurse Today?" (subtitle: "The people who hold the health system together often go unacknowledged"). Its vision of nursing is largely limited to the "unglamorous" job's physical demands, the unpleasantness of some care tasks, and the nurses' connection with their patients. So readers will not get a sense that nurses are educated professionals with advanced skills. On the other hand, the piece is at least a strong portrait of the aspects of nursing it identifies. The author marvels at the nurses' endurance and their ability to tolerate things like foul-smelling wounds and bedpans, and concludes by paying "tribute to these unsung heroines whose shoes I could never fill." more...

The changing face of Indian nursing

May 11, 2005 -- Lopamudra Maitra's piece posted on the expressindia web site today reports that, as nurses celebrate Florence Nightingale's birthday, Indian nursing schools are seeing more young women and more men taking an interest in the profession, as well as an increased demand for Indian nurses in English-speaking developed nations. The piece appears to be based mainly on conversations with local nursing school leaders and teachers, and it provides some interesting and important information about these trends. Unfortunately, it lacks any sense of the broader context of such migration, and it also presents some regressive stereotypes of nursing--the most egregious of which appear to come from a local dean of nursing. more...

ONA Original Nurse Activist

May 11, 2005 -- Today the California Nurses Association (CNA) issued a press release vowing to celebrate Florence Nightingale's birthday by staging a protest at the downtown San Francisco offices of Johnson & Johnson, the company known for its massive nursing recruitment campaign. CNA's release argued that the pharmaceutical giant had supported recent efforts to limit the political participation of nurses and other public employees, and that it had also donated huge sums to defeat measures designed to lower drug prices in California. The union called the company's policies "hypocritical," and said its protest honored the "legacy of the original nurse activist." The press release appeared on a few web sites, including Yahoo Finance and Biospace.com, but we have seen no coverage in the mainstream media. more...



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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
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