News on Nursing in the Media
April 22, 2006 -- Today Wigan Today (U.K.) ran an unsigned item about hospital nurses who have placed posters featuring male celebrities and nature scenes on the ceiling of a gynecological exam room. Leigh Infirmary staff nurse Rachel Lowe reportedly came up with the idea for the collage of posters, though the inclusion of hunky men was a suggestion from the patients themselves. This story does lend itself to the lighthearted tone the item employs. But it's also the kind of nursing intervention that can make a real difference for patients, as hospital nurses in Japan recently showed in research on the relaxing effect of music on the blood pressure of patients having catheter tests. We urge those involved in the ceiling collage to consider research exploring whether such images may actually help improve patient outcomes. more...
May 5, 2006 -- Today Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA, will host the second installment of her new radio show, which teaches listeners how to manage their health and navigate the health care system. The 30-minute weekly program, "Health in 30," will feature a range of health topics and experts. Ficarra says: "Many people don't ask questions when they visit their health care professional. They might feel intimidated to do so or simply they don't know how and what questions to ask." Since nurses explain key health issues to patients, they make excellent health show hosts. Sandy Summers, the Center's executive director, is honored to be appearing on Barbara's show today. The show is based in Rockland County near New York City, but you can listen online every Friday from 5:30 to 6:00 (ET) at WRCR. Barbara joins the small league of nurse radio hosts including Diana Mason and Barbara Glickstein, whose "HealthStyles" show airs on WBAI in New York City, and who routinely feature nurse experts. Sign up for free weekly email reminders for "Health in 30" and/or "Healthstyles" by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ms. Ficarra is also looking for diabetes nurse experts for an upcoming show, so email us for consideration to appear on the show. And if you are expert in other areas, please add your name to our nurse expert database, so that Barbara and others in the media can contact you when they need help. Thank you. See the full "Health in 30" press release.
March 21, 2006 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "Scrubs" included one of the better plotlines for nursing that the show has run. Mark Stegemann's "My Extra Mile" followed nurse character Carla Espinosa's search for a missing VIP patient. The minor plotline did not reflect much sense of how nurses work or of nursing autonomy. But it did feature an aggressive defense of nurses' technical expertise, as Carla repeatedly demonstrated her encyclopedic knowledge of the conditions and care plans of specific patients. The show set that in contrast to the physicians, who it suggested depend heavily on charting. The episode even suggested that Carla had some independent problem-solving ability. Of course, the episode on the whole reflected the physician-centric approach the show has taken since the beginning. But as "Scrubs" nears the possible end of its run in mid-May, we thank Mr. Stegemann and the other producers for this effort to highlight nursing expertise. more...
March 12, 2006 -- Today the Sunday Times (U.K.) ran a piece by Sarah-Kate Templeton that was completely unbalanced, but well headlined: "Doctors spit blood over plans to let nurses operate." Of course, physician opposition to the expanding responsibilities of advanced practice nurses is hardly novel. But the U.K. government's plans to permit nurses to perform what the piece calls "routine" operations have led to reactions from physicians at the Doctors.net.uk web site that reveal far more about the speakers than they do about nurses. (Readers may recall this site as the source of many physician comments praising Mattel for its "Nurse Quacktitioner" doll.) Now the Times reports that hundreds of physicians have expressed support for comments on the site including suggestions that nurses are as "stupid" as Beavis and Butt-head, that the British Medical Association (BMA) should "put the boot in," and that allowing nurses to perform "minor" surgery is like letting "air hostesses" fly planes. The Times fails to include any response whatsoever from nurses. Perhaps the paper thought the physician comments were so extreme that they undermined themselves. Indeed, the comments are oddly reminiscent of a Beavis and Butt-head exchange ("Nurses " "Yeah. Heh. Heh heh heh."). But the public continues to hold physicians in such high regard that the comments merit a response. For example, the Times might have found someone to explain that nurses are in fact educated health professionals who save lives and improve patient outcomes every day--sometimes by deftly working around attitudes like those festering at Doctors.net.uk--and that research overwhelmingly shows that the care of advanced practice nurses is at least as good as that provided by physicians. more...
March 14, 2006 -- Today the leading German news magazine Der Spiegel posted an article by Guido Kleinhubbert about a new government program to train prostitutes to become "care workers for the elderly," apparently including nurses. "Prostitute Retraining Program: From Johns to Geriatrics" suggests that some of the skills gained in prostitution are quite transferable to elder care. It also suggests that the training program is a timely idea, as Germany has a glut of prostitutes and a desperate need for nursing home workers, especially as its population ages. We have no problem with the training program itself. But the piece makes lighthearted comparisons of prostitution and health care, and it fails to define precisely what jobs the sex workers are training for, or to note that professional nursing requires years of college-level science training. These elements may reinforce harmful "naughty nurse" and handmaiden imagery. More broadly, we remain uncomfortable with the continuing suggestions that the developed world nursing shortage can be resolved by recruiting new nurses from groups who are presented as having few good options, rather than with better workplace conditions and adequate clinical and educational resources. more...
March 15, 2006 -- Today The Washington Post ran a short item linking fluctuations in the number of U.S. nurses to whether nursing wage increases had kept pace with inflation. Marc Kaufman's piece suggests that making sure the wage increases do keep pace is the key to resolving the nursing shortage. The story relies on a new report written by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), funded by the Service Employees International Union, and based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We have no doubt that wages are a factor in the nursing crisis, especially in developing nations. But we doubt small wage increases in the U.S. will make much difference in resolving the shortage. Instead, it seems clear that that will require serious, long-term improvements in staffing, working conditions, health system reform, educational resources, and basic social respect. more...
April 21, 2006 -- White Stripes leader Jack White, arguably the foremost rock music figure of his generation, has just given the Center for Nursing Advocacy a "Metaphorical Ignorance Award." This was a response to the Golden Lamp Award we gave the band for one of the worst 2005 portrayals of nursing for its song "The Nurse," from the Grammy-winning album "Get Behind Me Satan." In our analysis, which we sent Mr. White along with the Golden Lamp award, we noted that his song "uses an unholy mix of nursing imagery, complete with maid and mother references, to make a seemingly banal complaint about betrayal that isn't worthy of White." White's counter-award cited Truth executive director Sandy Summers for her "outstanding inability to recognize metaphor." But we did not suggest that the song was about an actual nurse. We said that it reinforced enduring stereotypes by comparing nursing to romantic love, mothering, and housekeeping--things that do not require years of college-level science training. In short, White's use of metaphor was itself the problem. White also decried our "ridiculous sense of ownership of the word 'Nurse.'" But that's like defending a misogynist song by saying that female critics don't own the word "woman." White has the right to talk about nurses, and even literary devices, but we have the right to explain why his lyrics 'offend in every way,' as he put it in a prescient earlier song. White signed his award as "president" of the "Center for Lyrical Advocacy," with the tag line "Increasing public understanding of poetry," a mocking play on the Center's own tag line. But the stereotypes in "The Nurse" feed the nursing shortage that is taking lives worldwide. We thank Mr. White for taking our views seriously enough to attack us. But before he started struggling with his computer graphics program, he might at least have found out why we disliked his song. more...
The exchange between the Truth and Jack White was covered in the Los Angeles Times in the article: "A Stripe nursing a grudge?" on April 30, 2006, and in the column "The Fix" on Salon.com on April 26, 2006.
April 24, 2006 -- Sandy Keefe, RN, MSN, did a very good article on media images of nursing in this week's edition of Advance for Nurses. The piece relied heavily on Truth executive director Sandy Summers. Summers expressed concern about the handmaiden portrayals (and non-portrayals) of nurses that dominate current U.S. television programming, as well as the continuing prevalence of unskilled angel images, which can infect even the messages of those trying to help nursing. See the article...
April 24, 2006 -- Truth executive director Sandy Summers gave one of two answers to a question on sexual harassment in the most recent edition of Advance for Nurses. Her answer focused on what may cause patients to harass you, and how you might respond to them. Click here to see the Advance for Nurses piece (available free to subscribers). Or click here to see it as our latest FAQ.
As part of its efforts to address nurse staffing issues through legislation, the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) has developed "advertorials"--a cross between an advertisement and an editorial--which have recently run in the Boston Globe. The MNA's David Schildmeier, who sits on the Center's advisory panel, says: "The Globe now allows organizations to place what they call 'advertorials' on public interest issues on their Op Ed page." This is an interesting advocacy option for nurses and nursing organizations dealing with similar legislative issues. Contact David Schildmeier for information or see the advertorials.
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