News on Nursing in the Media
September 27, 2007 -- Since last week, Cadbury Schweppes Canada has been running "naughty nurse" television ads for Dentyne Ice chewing gum. The ads show female nurses being lured into bed with male patients the instant the men pop the product into their mouths. The tag line: "Get Fresh." But the ads are not really so fresh. They use naughty nurse imagery to sell products to young men--a cliché in itself. And they suggest that use of the products by hospital patients will instantly produce an reaction from the always available bedside nurse, an idea that has recently been used to sell TAG Body Spray, and in an amazingly direct ad for a brand of Russian vodka. It is especially unfortunate that Cadbury Schweppes Canada is again exploiting the naughty nurse image, since we and other nurses clearly explained to the company the problems with that image following its use in a 2005 Mott's Clamato commercial. We urge Cadbury Schweppes to consider whether it really needs its female fantasy playthings to be nurses, which reinforces an enduring stereotype of workplace availability that contributes to the global nursing crisis. Despite our extensive discussions with company executives over the last week, the company so far refused to alter its plans to run the Dentyne Ice ad for many more weeks. Please help us persuade Cadbury Schweppes to change course. Please click here to join our letter-writing campaign and see the commercial!
So says tough Victorian-era English nurse Hester Latterly, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's legendary wartime cadre in the Crimea. Latterly, frustrated in her efforts to reform the antiquated hospital systems she finds back home, pursues private nursing. She also becomes the sidekick of detective William Monk, the hero of some 15 mystery novels by Anne Perry. In this 1994 entry in the series, Latterly finds herself on trial for the murder of Mary Farraline, an elderly Scottish matriarch Latterly was hired to accompany on a train journey. The prosecution claims Latterly gave Farraline an overdose of heart medication so she could steal a valuable brooch from the wealthy widow. As Monk and lawyer Oliver Rathbone work desperately to save Latterly from the gallows, Perry introduces significant detail about the great transition in nursing in the Nightingale era--not least by having the formidable icon herself appear as a character witness at Latterly's trial. "Sins of the Wolf" generally conveys that at least some nurses were intelligent women who saved lives using real skill. It makes clear that the work required great strength, and it shows nurses as aggressive reformers trying to shake up poor health systems. Parts of the book do tend to suggest that nursing itself was not intellectually challenging, and that nurses were especially impressive to the extent they acted as battlefield surgeons, which plays into the "you're so smart you could be a physician" mindset. Even so, the book presents mid-19th Century nursing as a progressive force in public health, and a focal point in the early struggle for professional equality for women. more...
September 20, 2007 -- Today MSNBC reprinted a Forbes article by Allison Van Dusen, "Playing doctor: Medical TV isn’t always right: Viewers often get wrong ideas, but shows do impart some info, experts say." The piece discussed the overall accuracy of popular health-related dramas. It included several comments from Truth executive director Sandy Summers about the shows' failure to portray nursing accurately. Our reported comments addressed the common depiction of physicians doing things nurses really do, including managing nurses. The piece also included our point that nurse characters tend to absorb abuse from physicians like House with no apparent ability to respond, reinforcing the image of nurses as meek servants--an unusual point for the mainstream media to put forward. Some of this material appeared in 2 of the 8 photos accompanying the article. We thank Allison Van Dusen for this article.
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:
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.
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!
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
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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