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News on Nursing in the Media

"Is That Even a Word--Midwifery?"

ABC's "Private Practice," the only new health drama of the 2007-08 TV season, is another prime time soap about smart, pretty physicians from "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes. But in addition to the seven physician characters who dominate here, the show's LA "wellness clinic" also has cute surfing receptionist Dell Parker. The earnest Dell just got his "nursing degree" and is studying to be a midwife. He seems to be a young, network version of "Strong Medicine"'s Peter Riggs--except Dell uses his nursing skills to be a receptionist. Despite good intentions and an intense interest in the clinic's patients, Dell seems to be the least knowledgeable major nurse character in the last decade of prime time US television. The show's early episodes suggest that his clinical studies consist of whatever ad hoc assistance he can give to clinic physicians. The episodes also rely heavily on juvenile mockery of Dell's midwifery studies as lightweight New Age kookiness. Show anchor and superstar physician Addison repeatedly utters the word "midwif" as if she had never heard of such an outlandish pursuit. Alert viewers can also catch glimpses of wallpaper nurses in the background once in a while, but it's not clear if any of them will ever display the ability to speak, much less think. On the whole, "Private Practice" either ignores or grossly undervalues nursing care, as the show pursues its tired "heroic physician" narrative. more, including our 5 new film clips...

"Is that even a word?"

The September 26 premiere features Addison mocking the very idea of midwifery. We're meant to assume that bemused contempt for midwives would probably be the attitude of any true childbirth expert. more...

"I love talking to midwifs"

Early in the October 3 episode we see Dell asking fertility specialist Naomi to speak to his midwife class. Naomi can't teach the class, so Addison tells Dell: "I'll do it. I love talking to midwifs." more...

"Commit to the cake, man"

The show manages to get through the entire October 10 episode, without mocking the word "midwifery." However, the episode does nothing to counter its overall presentation of Dell as an office assistant with little to no health care expertise. more...

"Vulva! Labia Majus!"

In the October 17 episode it's back to mockery of "midwif" school and of Dell's role as office naïf. more...

"Don't mock the midwife"

The October 24 episode is notable for a minor plotline built around Dell's first pap smears. But on the whole the episode presents Dell as a nurse without significant skill or experience with patients. more...


RATTLE's Winter 2007 Tribute to Nurses

a paper house
no shortage of nurses

December 2007 -- The Winter 2007 issue of the LA-based poetry magazine RATTLE, published this month, includes a "Tribute to Nurses." This special 45-page section includes poems by 24 nurses, and three short prose pieces in which nurses describe their work in the two fields. The online version of the issue also includes a piece by Center staff, "Nursing Our Beer Back to Health," which discusses how language affects nursing practice. We thank RATTLE for giving nurses an opportunity to speak about their work and their lives, and we salute all the nurses whose work appears. We intend to review "Tribute to Nurses" soon. more...


Tune in to Healthstyles today

Friday, December 14, 1:00-2:00 EST -- Today's Healthstyles on WBAI-FM, will focus on infectious diseases and patient safety. MRSA has caught the attention of the public as deaths of school children and adults make headline news. What is MRSA, how is it communicated and contained, and how do you prevent its transmission? Janet P. Haas, RN, DNS, CIC, Associate Director of Infection Prevention and Control at New York University Hospitals Center, will talk about this and other infectious disease topics, including how to prevent hospital-acquired infections when you're the patient. PULSE is a community organization that focuses on how the public can contribute to promoting patient safety. The Long Island chapter is headed by Ilene Corina, whose son died from a health care error. Ms. Corina will discuss the myriad initiatives that her organization has undertaken to help the public be knowledgeable advocates for safer health care and will provide practical suggestions for how people can protect themselves from being the victim of a health care error. She'll also talk about her new booklet on how to be a patient advocate. To sign up for weekly reminders to listen to HealthStyles every Friday, please email us at with a subject line "subscribe HealthStyles alert."


Do you have expertise in addiction nursing?

The managing editor for a book titled "Addictions in Medicine: Principles and Practices" is looking for a nurse to write a chapter on "Addictions in Psychiatric Nursing." This book aims to help health care professionals learn about addictions in their colleagues. (It is not a book for specialists in addictions.) The Center believes that it is important for nurses to help create such texts, since nursing is often misunderstood, even by other health workers. So we strongly urge nurses with expertise to consider undertaking this venture. If you are interested or you know of someone else who may be, please contact us at and we will forward your information to the editor. Thank you.


Check out our Action page!

Please consider the wide variety of things we can do to help resolve the nursing shortage, and meet the challenges of 21st Century health care, by increasing public understanding of nursing. Here are just a few:

Encourage others to get involved by:

  • Creating bulletin boards at your workplace by posting our analyses or news alerts;
  • Starting a chapter in your hometown.

Read From Silence to Voice, which is nursing's manual on how to speak out about the life-saving work that nurses do. It is important for the health of our profession that you tell everyone you know about the value of your work.

Doing a presentation on nursing's image? Get some film clips here.

Monitor the media and alert us to noteworthy portrayals of nursing. Set your DVR, TiVo or DVD recorder to record every time you watch television. If you see a nursing portrayal you'd like us to consider covering, let us know.

Start a health radio show, like HealthStyles with Diana Mason & Barbara Glickstein. Do health minutes and work to become a local health correspondent for television and radio news programs, like television commentator and author Pat Carroll.

Create, read or support nurse-friendly media and art.

Wear the RN patch on your uniform.

Register with our nurse expert database.

Start a Nurse Shadowing Program for medical students and interns at your hospital or school. We must educate physicians as to the nature of nursing work so they can play a more positive role in creating nursing-related media, and so we can develop more collaborative relationships, which lead to better patient outcomes. See a sketch of a nurse shadowing program at Dartmouth.

Letter-writing campaigns--please write a letter for each of our campaigns.

Last but not least, please become a member of the Center. We need your financial support to make our work happen. Thank you!

See other ways you can get involved on our full action page!


Invest in your future

The Center promotes better understanding of nursing, so nurses can do their work. But just like nurses, we need financial support to do our work. The long-term sustainability of the Center depends on it. If you appreciate our work, would you be able to chip in to help us continue? Our current situation requires that key staff donate many hundreds of hours to the Center every year, at great cost to themselves and their families. Please do your part to help us out. Thank you!

The Center's global media monitoring, analysis and advocacy is a huge challenge. It takes extensive research, writing, communication, and Internet efforts. We must pay for office equipment, supplies, transportation, Internet products, insurance, postage and telephone costs. Our office is donated by our staff. And our staff can undertake only a small part of the work that needs to be done to improve nursing's image.

So we urge you to make a donation to help us continue and expand our work. Just click here to learn about the great gifts you can receive for joining or renewing your Center membership, including our cool t-shirts and the Archie McPhee nurse action figure! It's quick and easy! And because the Center is a 501(c)(3) charity, your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Thank you for all of your support over the past year. You are the reason we've had a real impact on public understanding of nursing worldwide. Together, we can strengthen nursing, and give patients the kind of health care they deserve in 2007 and beyond!

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790



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