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News on Nursing in the Media

"Iraq: Neglected nurses fight their own war"

November 19, 2006 -- Today the IRIN news service (Integrated Regional Information Networks) posted a good piece on the Reuters Foundation website about the severe hardship Iraqi nurses face. The unsigned article focuses on the struggle of nurse Nissrin Muhammad to care for patients--150 or more at a time--at a public hospital in Baghdad. The widowed mother of five works six days a week, 13 hours a day, enduring physical and verbal abuse in desperate conditions. She can no longer afford meat, but she no longer wants to eat it anyway; it reminds her too much of the relentless carnage she sees as a result of sectarian violence. The piece says many Iraqi nurses have fled the nation. Those with working husbands stay home to avoid the violence. There are good quotes from a Ministry of Health physician, who stresses that physicians cannot function without the nurses, and that "[l]osing their work means losing lives." The piece might have provided more information on Iraqi nursing generally, both before and after the war. But overall it's a powerful look at a profession in crisis. more...

Coor Slight

December 2006 -- After five months of effort, we have persuaded Colorado brewer Coors to stop using "naughty nurse" imagery in its "Coors Light Trauma Tour." We thank the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, especially member Laurie Spooner, for important help in this effort. The Trauma Tour has been an ongoing marketing campaign of Coors Canada. It has included television and other advertising, sponsorship of extreme sports events, and events at clubs and bars. The nursing component has featured models dressed in "naughty nurse" outfits, and some publicity has actually used the term "naughty nurse." It seems that the "nurses" would not only help the young male target demographic through risky sports, but also cause some "trauma" of their own by interacting closely with the guys. Because the "naughty nurse" stereotype reinforces the undervaluation and gender segregation of nursing, which in turn fuels the real "trauma" of the nursing shortage, we urged Coors to rethink the use of such "nurses" in its marketing. The company's U.S. headquarters was very responsive to our concerns, stressing that Coors had vowed to stop using such imagery after our successful campaign about its naughty nurse Zima commercial that aired in 2002. Ultimately, the company's Canadian division was persuaded to stop using naughty nurse imagery in the Trauma Tour. more...

"Yo! Here's Another No-Brainer Thing We Can Do to End the Nursing Shortage."

October 5, 2006 -- Over the last few weeks, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky has run at least three strong pieces about safe staffing and overtime disputes at Temple University Hospital. In describing labor negotiations between the hospital and its nurses, Polaneczky argues that nurses should get the staffing levels they need, as well as limits on forced overtime. She says such measures would improve patient safety and address key factors in the nursing shortage, potentially bringing many nurses back to the bedside. In making these points, she explains, using specific examples, how nurses keep patients alive--if they have the time and energy. We commend Polaneczky for keeping the focus on issues that are critical to the wellbeing of bedside nurses and their patients. more...

Getting Close

December 19, 2006 -- Yesterday, John McPherson's "Close to Home" comic showed an EMT giving a stretcher-bound patient a choice: "Mercy Hospital" was "20 minutes closer," but the nurses at "Saratoga Hospital" were "really hot." We get that it's a "joke." But it still suggests that the main thing about nurses is their physical beauty, reinforcing a tenacious stereotype of brainless female sexuality. Today the Post-Star of Glen Falls, NY, ran a fair piece by Charles Fiegl about the Center's objections, which include that the comic feeds a poor overall media image that impedes nurses' efforts to get adequate resources. Editor and Publisher (E&P) covered the Post-Star's article with today's piece "Comic's Comment About Nurses Stirs Big Reaction." E&P noted that "Close to Home" appears in about 700 newspapers. The Post-Star reported that McPherson based the comic on his desire to impress the nurses at the actual nearby Saratoga Hospital. One nurse from that hospital reportedly said she and her colleagues really are "very hot," which is "how we get our patients to come to Saratoga," though she added that the nurses there "also provide great care." Given this striking expression of self-respect, we know an Italian political leader who might well consider Saratoga for his next cardiac procedure. more...


September 20, 2006 -- Today the News Wales site posted an article about a policy "manifesto" issued by the Royal College of Nursing in Wales in advance of next year's Welsh legislative elections. The attention-grabbing headline is "Wales boozing worries nurses," but the manifesto covers a wide range of key health "demands." These include a large increase in the number of school nurses, expanding nursing responsibilities in community care, improvements in emergency care, and measures to improve nursing recruitment and retention. The unsigned piece has good quotes from the RCN Wales director, and it appears to be essentially a description of the RCN's press release. So it might have benefited from some outside comment on the extent to which the manifesto is politically feasible. But it is clearly an example of strong advocacy for nurses and their patients. more...

Who are you?

October 6, 2006 -- Today Newsweek posted a web exclusive by Anne Underwood headlined "'CSI' Nursing." The piece gives a short introduction to forensic nursing, followed by an interview with New Jersey sexual assault forensic nurse Beryl Skog. The "CSI" hook is understandable, though ironic, since that CBS show is among the many Hollywood products that tend to ignore or denigrate the contributions of nurses. In general, Underwood's piece is a thoughtful look at skilled forensic nursing. She gives Skog a good deal of space to explain how she cares for sexual assault victims and gathers vital evidence for criminal prosecutions. We thank Underwood and Newsweek. more...

Columbus Discovers America

August 15, 2006 -- Today the Forbes site posted an unsigned HealthDay News piece, "Heart Failure Patients Fare Better With Follow-Up Nursing Care." The article reports that a new study shows that "patients who get follow-up care from nurses have fewer hospitalizations and function better than patients who receive what is considered usual care." The patients studied were drawn from "ambulatory practices at Harlem hospitals." We commend those responsible for this helpful coverage of the value of nursing--except that readers are not really told that it is nursing. Unfortunately, the piece consults no nurses, relying solely on an economist and a physician who were study co-authors, and one outside physician expert. We realize that the medical school-based study appears to have no nurse authors, a sad comment in itself. But that together with the failure to consult any nurses for the press account suggests that they are they are just another piece of helpful medical equipment, rather than knowledgeable professionals. It implies that what the nurses are doing here is just carrying out physician "orders." Of course, this is not the first time we have seen the basic idea here--that holistic, preventative care improves outcomes--become news when respected professionals like physicians embrace it, even though it has been a core principle of nursing for many decades. more...

What a tangled webisode we weave

January 2007 -- From November 2005 until March 2006, California travel nurse company Access Nurses posted on a company web site 18 brief "webisodes" of what is apparently the first Internet-based reality show, "13 Weeks." The webisodes spotlight six nurses living in a posh Orange County mansion while working at local community hospitals. The show was ostensibly designed to address the nursing shortage by highlighting how exciting travel nursing can be. Of course, it is clearly a vehicle to promote Access Nurses as well. "13 Weeks" gets points for diversity, for avoiding most nursing stereotypes, and for giving career seekers some sense of what nurses do. However, the show's focus is mainly on the "fun in the sun" aspects of travel nursing. Eight webisodes follow the nurses on outings, including wine tasting, kayaking, and visiting an amusement park, and most of the other episodes include significant non-clinical elements. The work portrayals are cursory and at times troubling--it's not a serious documentary. In the end, viewers are likely to get that some nurses are articulate and committed (and fun-loving!), but not so much that they are clinical experts whose work saves lives every day. And the full-bore endorsement of travel nursing as a solution to the shortage is problematic, given that many feel its rapid growth is more a dangerous symptom of the crisis than a cure. more...


September 19, 2006 -- The Nanaimo News Bulletin (British Columbia) ran a short item today about a bungy jumping promotion that local nurses organized to highlight the importance of child car safety seats. According to Chris Bush's article, the nurses wanted to show the public that bungy jumping was actually safer than riding with an improperly restrained child. We commend the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital maternity nurses (and one of the nurses' sons) for advocacy that serves the interests of nursing as well as the public. And we thank Mr. Bush and the News Bulletin for covering it. more...

Nursing Diaries Part I now available for your nurse recruitment needs!

Get your DVD copies of "Lifeline: The Nursing Diaries--The Rookies" (Part I) by filmmaker Richard Kahn. When we reviewed Part I of the documentary in Dec. 2004, we gave it 4 out of 4 stars for its nursing portrayal. From our review: "Part I gives an unusually good sense of the value of highly skilled nursing. It shows nurses working in three intensive care units at Mass. General: the cardiac surgical intensive care unit (CSICU), the neonatal ICU (NICU), and the surgical ICU (SICU). The episode shows nurses doing so many critical health tasks that the media commonly has physicians doing that it almost seems like it must have been a conscious goal of the filmmakers. However, it may simply be the natural result of taking a comprehensive look at what nurses really do. We see nurses autonomously managing patient care, detecting critical problems, formulating key interventions, explaining things to patients, families, and the viewer, and generally managing recoveries with little physician involvement." Read the full review here. Order a copy of Nursing Diaries Part I for US $10, which includes shipping. We are selling these essentially at cost in order to make access to this video as easy as possible. To order, please make a $10 payment here.

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Help Us!

Because of the lack of overall understanding worldwide, nurses must sustain a collective effort to shape media portrayals of their work. We must educate society in order to obtain more social, political and financial support. As Florence Nightingale once said:

In our imperfect state of conscience and enlightenment, publicity and the collision resulting from publicity are the best guardians of the interest of the sick.

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, MD USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790


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