News on Nursing in the Media
June 7, 2006 -- "Akeelah and the Bee" follows the Hollywood formula of a gifted but troubled competitor confronting destiny. The ingratiating film tells the story of an 11-year-old girl from a struggling Los Angeles school who aims for the National Spelling Bee, despite a social environment that presents huge obstacles. Akeelah's widowed mother Tanya, for instance, is barely keeping it together raising the family by herself. Fair enough, except that the film tells us that the bitter Tanya had to settle for being a nurse instead of a physician after dropping out of college. In other words, nurses are sad physician wannabes who lack college-level training. In this respect, "Akeelah" pushes a vision of African-American professional achievement that is as elitist, shallow, and inaccurate as that of its sophomoric cousin, the prime time soap "Grey's Anatomy." When applied to nursing, that vision damages public health. read more and send our instant letter!
April 18, 2006 -- Tonight NBC's "Scrubs" showed nurse Carla Espinosa helping interns learn key aspects of clinical practice by catching their errors and teaching them how to avoid them. The subplot also presented Carla as wisely protecting the interns from the undue wrath of their attending physicians. And in one scene, Carla even expertly takes charge of handling a patient's seizure, with an intern following her lead (!). The show does seem to view Carla's acts more as a result of her fine personal qualities than as a professional nursing obligation. And though we ourselves have often said that nurses deserve credit for teaching physicians, given prevailing biases, this may suggest to many that nurses are important to the extent they help the physicians whose care really matters. This episode, like hundreds of other prime time episodes in the last decade, is all about training physicians--only. We have yet to see a media product suggest that physicians are important because they help train new nurses. Even so, the intern errors plotline is a rare and admirable effort by a network show to convey that nurses play an important role in health care and training. The episode, "His Story III," was written by Angela Nissel. more...
April 15, 2006 -- Today This Is the West Country (UK) ran a short story by Laura Thorpe describing complaints by physicians about plans to end a local night nursing service because of security concerns. The piece, "GP raps plan to axe night nurses," is striking because it relies on the comments of one general practitioner (GP) making clear that nursing is distinct from medicine, and that physicians will not be able to provide the care in question as well as the nurses can. The piece might have explored more issues that would seem to be raised here, such as what the nurses think, and why nurses are less able to work alone at night than physicians. But we thank those responsible for this report telling readers that nurses have unique and valuable skills. more...
May 12, 2006 -- The International Council of Nursing's theme for the 2006 International Nurses Day was: "Safe staffing saves lives." In extensive materials we assume were distributed worldwide, the ICN explained why safe staffing matters to patient outcomes, and even included a short discussion of staffing ratios. The materials also discussed what might be done to improve staffing, including aggressive public advocacy by nurses themselves. The ICN's Nurses Day campaign received press coverage across the world, including in the Imphal Free Press (India), the Gulf Times (Qatar), and the Nation News (Barbados). We commend the ICN for using the annual celebration, which has often meant little more than angel-oriented lip service, to highlight one of the most critical issues in nursing worldwide. And we salute the Nation News in particular for a piece whose hard-nosed focus on improving working conditions strikes us as a fine way to pay tribute to nurses today. more...
April 1, 2006 -- Today the Long Beach Press Telegram ran a piece about local nurse Judy Fix, who saved the life of an injured motorist at the roadside. That's good. Unfortunately, Kristopher Hanson's piece was headlined "Ex-nurse didn't forget," and it referred to Fix as an "administrator" at Memorial Medical Center and a "former nurse." In fact, Judy Fix is the hospital's Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services, managing 1,800 RNs. We doubt that many people would refer to Memorial's chief of medicine as an "ex-physician." What's the difference? In our view, it is the persistent view that only nurses who currently work at the bedside are really nurses, and that nurses cannot be leaders, scholars, or policy-makers without ceasing to be nurses. In other words, it is the view that nursing is not a serious, autonomous profession. more...
June 10, 2006 -- Johnson and Johnson is still refusing to pull their television commercials, which send the message, like "Akeelah and the Bee," that nurses are anything but college educated professionals. We learned a few weeks ago that nurses in Australia and New Zealand convinced J&J to "go back to the drawing board" to create new recruitment ads for their respective nations. The new New Zealand ads are still in development, but we understand that the new Australian ones better highlight nurses' life-saving skills, instead of relying on the type of handmaiden and angel imagery that dominates the company's U.S. ads. If we want the most powerful parts of J&J's U.S. campaign to highlight nurses' full expertise, we must tell J&J. Please join our campaign and ask J&J to work with nurses to create ads that tell the public what it really needs to know about nursing. And ask your nursing organizations to join our campaign too! Read our analysis of the J&J ads or go straight to the instant letter. Thank you.
In order to continue speaking honestly about media images of nursing--even if it displeases major corporations and their nursing allies--the Center needs your help. Help us show that there is a place for independent voices in nursing. Help us overcome the limited "angel" and handmaiden images that have contributed to the nursing crisis. We must tell the public that nurses save lives and improve patient outcomes, so we can get the resources we need to resolve the nursing shortage. Please help us do that by making a contribution today.
The Center for Nursing Advocacy fights inaccurate media images of nursing because those images affect how decision-makers and members of the public value the profession. For most people, the media is the major source of information about nursing. But because the profession's image is so inaccurate and degraded, decision-makers tend not to fully fund nursing clinical practice, education or research. Short-staffing is one result. If we want to resolve the global nursing crisis, we must change the way the world thinks about nursing. Nurses save lives and improve outcomes every day, but few people outside nursing know that. Right now the Center has the resources to address a few of the most influential images of nursing. But we need far more funding to do what really needs to be done, including working proactively to create better images.
The Center stands ready and willing to lead that effort. But the tiny staff that donates almost all of its Center labor cannot do this without your help. We need money to pay for office supplies, internet fees, and other expenses. Most importantly, the long-term sustainability of the Center depends on core staff receiving a living wage. Please help us improve the nursing image by making a generous contribution to the Center today. And when you do, you will get cool free gifts (as below), including t-shirts. Please join or renew your membership today. Thank you for your help. When the Center has a success, all of our supporting members should feel very proud, because we absolutely cannot do this without you. See our free member gifts
Can you help us by circulating our brochures and asking your colleagues and friends to become donating members of the Center? If so, please email me and let me know how many brochures you would like, and we'll send them out to you. Thank you!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD USA 21212-2937
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