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Worth Dying For

October 2006 -- We hear that a fine new establishment in Tempe, Arizona, one Heart Attack Grill, has been the subject of complaints by those battleaxes at the Arizona State Board of Nursing. And it's all because the Grill uses scantily dressed "naughty nurse" wait staff to sell burgers and beer! Last month, the real nurses (or "Terrorists & FemiNazis," as the Grill describes them) even got the Arizona attorney general's office to ask the Grill to stop suggesting that its employees are real nurses, in alleged violation of the state's protected title statute. The Center is outraged at this assault on the free speech rights of scrubs-clad Grill owner "Dr. Jon" Basso. But we will explore what those scary Arizona nurses might be getting at, when they aren't busy killing millions of Jews or crashing jets into buildings. The nurses might be upset because the Grill is exploiting nursing's long-standing position as the most sexually-fantasized-about job on the planet. That reinforces stereotypes that discourage practicing and potential nurses (especially men), foster sexual violence in the workplace, and contribute to a general atmosphere of disrespect that weakens nurses' claims to adequate resources. Those stereotypes exacerbate the global nursing shortage, a public health crisis that is killing thousands of people. It would even be killing those whose poor diets help lead to heart attacks, if the link between food and cardiac conditions were not just another silly lie in a world in which, as the Grill says, "insane political correctness stands as a barrier between the average man and his pursuit of happiness." read more and please join our letter-writing campaign!


Water made less naughty

September 2006 -- Recently, Constellation Brands, Inc. employed naughty nurse images to help sell its Hydra Vodka Water beverage, which is marketed to young adults. One print ad in the "Water made naughty" campaign featured a "naughty nurse" underwater, wearing a very short dress and putting on a surgical glove, while glancing seductively at the camera. Models dressed as naughty nurses also seem to have been a feature at events promoting the drink. We called Constellation Brands to discuss our concern that such imagery discourages practicing and potential nurses, while undermining nursing's claims to adequate resources in the midst of a global shortage. Michael Martin, Vice President of Corporate Communications, immediately agreed to work to discontinue use of the imagery. It has been pulled from the Hydra website and will no longer be placed in print ads. more...

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"We're all 17 years old"

September 28, 2006 -- This season's first two episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" included handmaiden portrayals and physician nursing that flowed naturally from the show's superficial approach to health care. In the September 21 premiere, written by Shonda Rhimes and seen by 25 million U.S. viewers, experienced nurse Olivia confronts a sick newborn much as a deer faces headlights. Intern Alex orders Olivia to get him IV materials as he whisks the baby out of the flu-stricken ED. At first Olivia can only babble "How old's that baby?", and sputter that she's just been sent down from the floor to handle the flu overflow. But she does recover enough to snap that the infant has to be admitted to the hospital--which Alex of course ignores, since he's all about saving lives. In tonight's episode, written by Krista Vernoff and seen by 23.3 million viewers, nurse Tyler informs intern Cristina that he was part of a team that just saved a life in a code. But we get no specifics. And Tyler tells Cristina only to justify his failure to earn the $20 she paid him to act as a lookout, so she could have with her boyfriend, an ailing attending surgeon, in his hospital bed. Tyler seems to get the last laugh, but he's still a lackey who accepts $20 tips for tasks other than his real job. Later, we see what Tyler really does for patients. He pages intern George to tell him that a pre-op lung cancer patient has been shoplifting and is planning to leave without having her operation. Then Tyler steps back to let George handle the important health care issues. Seriously? Seriously. read more and send our new letter!


June 29, 2006 -- Many recent articles have addressed the flow of nurses from developing nations to the United States, in the context of the proposed easing of entry restrictions in the immigration bill that passed the Senate in May. On May 24, The New York Times ran Celia Dugger's "U.S. Plan to Lure Nurses May Hurt Poor Nations." This piece is a very strong, front-page examination of the state of nurse immigration to the United States, and the likely effects of eliminating the current restrictions. Dugger carefully presents different sides of the debate, citing the remittances the immigrating nurses send back home and the devastating blow to the home nations' health resources, including a weakened ability to fight diseases like AIDS. The Times followed up with a half-baked May 27 editorial, "For Want of a Nurse." For all its flaws--the most glaring being the suggestion that the generation of nurses now nearing retirement chose the profession solely because they did not want to teach--the editorial does urge the nation to start solving its nursing shortage "on its own," particularly by spending more on nursing education. Coverage of nurse emigration after the Senate bill's passage suggests that it would likely increase if the bill became law. Nida Mariam's June 18 piece in Daily News & Analysis (Mumbai, India), "City wakes up to nurse exodus," suggests that easing the U.S. restrictions would contribute to an already severe nursing shortage in India. There, many new nursing school graduates head abroad and hospitals suffer from extreme short staffing. Today the CNN site posted a fairly good unsigned Associated Press piece, "Nurses lead Kenyan brain drain." It highlights the immigration to the U.S. of Kenyan nurses who are desperate to support their families. And it suggests that easing the restrictions would have a real impact in Africa, not just in the Asian nations from which most nurse immigrants have traditionally come. more...

Where are all the nurses??

October 13, 2006 -- The following is from an email from Barbara Ficarra, RN, host of the exciting new radio show "Health in 30," urging nurses to start speaking up about their own work:

When my radio show and the website were launched, I thought I would be inundated by nurses responding to the "Speak Out" prompt on the web site to be in the media--on the radio show. Well, to date the responses from physicians and communication and PR companies representing them are tremendous, but where are all the nurses?? A couple nurses will have a spot in a couple future shows, but that's it? A couple? Maybe nurses don't want what I think they want....maybe they don't want to be in the media....I'm hoping I'll get nurses interested...but so far, it's been disappointing.

Supporters! If you have expertise in a given area of nursing, PLEASE register your information with the "Health in 30" show AND our nurse expert database so that others in the media can contact you as a resource. Speaking publicly is a vital part of changing the way people think about nurses. If we do not speak up about health care, the public thinks we don't know anything about health care. We cannot convince decision-makers and the public that we deserve more funding for our schools, research, and clinical practice unless we show them that we are valuable professionals. They are not going to learn this from most of the mass media, which commonly presents nurses as peripheral subordinates of no importance. Physicians have always known how crucial this is for their profession. That's why they have long been the sole sources of meaningful expert advice for Hollywood and other media, and why they are the ones inundating "Health in 30" with offers to appear. But if it's going to happen for nursing, we must do it ourselves, for ourselves, as well as for our patients and society. Patients need a stronger nursing profession. And society needs the unique perspective that nurses can bring to the media. Many health topics cannot be adequately addressed without nursing expertise--yet the media does so endlessly, every day, all over the world. We urge you to read From Silence to Voice to increase your understanding of the media and how to perform well in media interactions. Thank you. Please speak up today!

A time to dance, a time to mourn

June 28, 2006 -- The Belfast Telegraph has recently run good articles highlighting positive and negative aspects of nursing in Northern Ireland today. On May 25, the Telegraph published Nigel Gould's "Half our nurses quit in the last 10 years; Health chiefs alarmed as 10,000 left their jobs." Gould's piece reports that shockingly high numbers of nurses have recently left the National Health Service in the province, despite record numbers of new recruits from overseas. The piece links the exodus to poor working conditions, especially short staffing. On the other hand, today the paper published Jane Bell's "I'm not a 'male nurse' - I'm a nurse and proud of it," which tells the story of pioneering "alcohol liaison nurse" Gary Doherty. Doherty won the Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Award for his work handling endemic alcohol-related problems at a north Belfast hospital. Bell's piece shows how critical the work of Doherty's team is not only in improving patient outcomes and cutting costs, but in reducing alcohol-fueled attacks against nurses. The piece uses Doherty's gender as a hook, but it generally keeps the focus on his work. We thank the Telegraph, which has also covered the RCN award in past years, though not at anywhere near the length of this piece. more...

A "major paradigm shift"

June 12, 2006 -- Today The Daily Star (Bangladesh) ran an extensive, helpful analysis of why nursing matters by Dulce Corazon Z Lamagna. "Evaluating the role of nurses" aims to "improve the image of nurses" through a general discussion of what nurses do and the difficult global situation they now face. It includes an unusually strong section on the effects of short-staffing. The piece is not rigorously organized, and it has its share of low-content jargon and unexplained statements about things like "enabling environment and self-actualisation." But it also presents a good deal of accurate, important information about the nature and value of nursing, including its effect on patient outcomes. We thank Dulce Corazon Z Lamagna, an MBA student at American International University, and The Daily Star. more...

Project Salud

June 26, 2006 -- Recent Associated Press pieces have highlighted the growing roles nurse practitioners play in primary care in the United States. Today, the CNN site posted an unsigned AP piece headlined "The nurse is in: Nurse practitioners filling void in primary care." The Pennsylvania-based article explores how NPs have moved into a variety of primary care roles as fewer physicians have chosen to do so. One such role is that of nurse-midwives, whose care a May 11 AP piece examines. "Midwives offer women special deliveries" was posted on the Boston Globe web site, and it focuses on Connecticut midwifery practices. The article, by Amanda Cuda, details some ways in which midwives' care of pregnant women differs from that of physicians. Both pieces give readers a sense of the growth in NP practice and some of the important benefits NPs provide, though both could have done more to explain how highly skilled NPs are, and the tangible effects their care has on patient outcomes, particularly for underserved populations. more...

Hindustan Times: "No option but to nurse themselves"

June 29, 2006 -- Today the Hindustan Times ran a short piece by Surya Agarwal about the ill effects of a nursing strike on patients and physicians at King George's Medical University hospital (KGMU). The piece seems likely to create bad feeling toward the nurses--it makes no reference to why they are striking, or whether they made any effort to provide continuity of care. And some parts suggest that physicians (or even patients) could provide the nursing care if they only had the time and energy. Other parts do seem to suggest that nurses have unique skills, and that they cannot be replaced. more...

Boy Division

June 28, 2006 -- Today the Southeast Missourian ran a short piece by Scott Moyers headlined "Camp urges males to consider career in nursing." It describes a small local nursing camp designed to interest male high school students in the profession, which remains less than 10% male despite a critical shortage. The article includes a number of positive elements to encourage those who (like the Center) would like to see far more men in nursing. The piece also shows how difficult it is to address the issue without stumbling into unfortunate assumptions about gender and nursing. more...

Please join all our campaigns!

Please join all our letter-writing campaigns, especially our American Medical Association campaign, which encourages the AMA to stop impugning the care delivered by advanced practice registered nurses, and our Johnson & Johnson campaign, which addresses the company's focus on emotional "angel" imagery in its influential television ads. Thank you!

If you value what the Center does, please donate a corresponding amount to help us continue our work. The Center needs your support!

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 join, you will get cool free gifts, 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.

Distribute our brochures to your colleagues and students

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
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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