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News on Nursing in the Media


"The N Word"

June 15, 2007 -- Recent episodes of Larry David's HBO sitcom "Curb Your Enthusiasm" offered portrayals of nurses who, despite the improvised verité dialogue, embodied low-skilled handmaiden stereotypes. The October 28, 2007 episode touched (unintentionally) on a key issue: what can a nurse do when a physician with more power is bent on doing something that is plainly not in the patient's interest? In "The N Word," a black surgeon overhears Larry relating a story in which another white man had used that racist word. The furious surgeon, wrongly assuming Larry is the real bigot, takes revenge on the next white man in his path by shaving the head of his next patient. This happens to be Larry's friend Jeff, who, once bald, himself becomes the subject of discrimination. An OR nurse weakly tries to stop the surgeon, but soon ends up handing him the clippers. Another nurse later tries to cover up what the surgeon did, suggesting to his wife that it was accidental, before the surgeon orders her from their room so he can apologize. Of course the show is poking fun at how we handle some stereotypes, but that doesn't stop it from reinforcing others. Viewers will see these nurses as timid physician assistants, rather than patient advocates. In fact, some nurses would have stopped this surgeon. Of course, many nurses do not feel they have the power to resist when physicians are about to endanger patients, as some notorious cases show, but few viewers will get any sense that this is a real issue. Similarly, in the November 11, 2007 season finale ("The Bat Mitzvah"), a nurse at a gastroenterology office responds to Larry's reluctance to first tell her about a sensitive condition not by describing her skill and autonomy, but by claiming unpersuasively that the system saves important physician time--an undervaluation both of her role and of nursing in general. Once again, the scenario could happen, but presenting only this vision of nursing effectively reinforces harmful stereotypes. Could the show have avoided that without killing David's inventive plotting and sharp social comedy? Yes. more...and see 8 new film clips...



May 14, 2008 -- Today the Australian Broadcasting Corporation site reported that the Fiji Nurses Association has said "developed countries that poach Fiji's nurses should have to pay for their training in the first place." The item explains the Pacific island nation's loss of nurses to nations like Australia and New Zealand. The short piece does not explore how this paying for training might happen. For instance, should governments or hospitals in the nations to which the nurses emigrate pay? How? The piece also does not explore key aspects of the shortage in Fiji. But the article does suggest that the exodus of developing world nurses to wealthy nations is more than a simple job move. more...


Conference on Nursing Retention

July 24-25, 2008 -- We are media partners with Active Communications International, which is having an upcoming conference on Nursing Recruitment and Retention on July 24-25, in Chicago. It will be a two-day strategic event focusing on strategies for creating a superior work environment to successfully recruit and retain nursing staff. For more details call Tom Johnson at 312-780-0700 ext. 215 or e-mail at or visit


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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