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News on Nursing in the Media


Unusual access to us

May 23, 2008 -- The Los Angeles poetry magazine RATTLE has placed a remarkable "Tribute to Nurses" in its Winter 2007 issue. The 45-page tribute includes only work by nurses: 24 poems and four essays. The essays discuss the relation between nursing and poetry, and how the writer has come to pursue both. Calling this material a "tribute" almost does it a disservice. You might think that approach would lead editors right to the traditional angel image, and some of the retro cover art isn't far from it. But RATTLE offers well-crafted, irreverent poems that capture modern lives and deaths, without sentiment. Perhaps that is because nurses "have unusual access to us," as noted by Joanne Trautmann Banks (quoted by Madeleine Mysko). Many of these poems address clinical settings, especially older patients in extremis. The poems suggest the scope of patients' lives through their physicality, their frailties, their suffering. To some extent we also glimpse the inner lives of nurses who, as Shawna Swetech suggests in "Midwifing My Father," have "delivered soul from body many times." Several of the nurses point to the healing power of poetry in their own lives. There are also lots of cigarettes. But there are not many physicians, a stark contrast to the overriding theme in the popular media that health care consists of the physician-patient interaction. The issue also identifies each writer with appropriate credentials (e.g., BSN, PhD, APRN), giving readers an idea of nursing education. Because the focus of the clinical poems is so much on the patients, there is less sense of nurses as health experts and life-savers, with the exception of Anne Webster's "Dry Drowning." It may be that the poetic form in general does not lend itself to conveying that type of information. But the tribute does present nurses as keen observers, and courageous workers who help us in our darkest hours. more...


Diagnosis:   Promoting naughty nurse stereotype

May 16, 2008 -- One of the new shows in the 2007-2008 television season that was less than helpful to nursing was USA Network's "Dr. Steve-O," which included naughty "nurse" Trishelle. Although we learned today that the reality show will not be returning for a second season, it's worth working past our tears to examine why the show was a problem. The October 21, 2007 episode is a good example. In the episode, "Jackass" veteran Steve Glover "de-wussifies" three awkward men by cajoling them into doing painful or embarrassing stunts. At "Dr. Steve-O"'s side throughout is "beautiful hot babe Trishelle," an actress dressed as a naughty nurse. Trishelle's role involves looking cute, letting Steve-O cuddle with her, and encouraging participants to do as Steve-O says. The show is not quite as stupid or ugly as it sounds. Of course it promotes dangerous behavior, despite the frequent warnings ("do not staple your scrotum"), and destructive notions of masculinity. But there's something oddly endearing about it because Steve-O maintains a positive, almost caring attitude toward his charges, he undergoes everything they do (or worse), and the show seems to avoid overt homophobia. Is Steve-O just a sick dolt, or is he saving the souls of lost boys through focused pain rituals? The show is obviously tongue in cheek, and no doubt the inclusion of Trishelle would be defended as all part of "the joke." Just as Steve-O himself is clearly not a real physician, viewers will realize Trishelle is not a real nurse. But unlike Steve-O, Trishelle will reinforce longstanding stereotypes of nurses as sexually available dimwits and physician handmaidens. more...


Should nurses be criminally prosecuted for practice errors?

May 23, 2008 -- Center board member Edie Brous, RN, JD, will be a guest today on Barbara Ficarra's Health in 30 radio show. Ms. Brous will talk about unintentional healthcare errors and recent prosecutions of nurses for those errors. The errors are often the result, at least in part, of systemic problems in nurses' workplaces and inadequate support for nursing practice. Learn how criminal prosecution of health workers affects patient safety. Listen live today from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST by clicking here. And call in to the show to share your views!


Did you work at Montefiore Hospital under Lydia Hall?

May 23, 2008 -- Did you work at Montefiore Hospital when Lydia Hall directed it? We have been contacted about a project related to nursing in the 60's and seek more information about Lydia Hall at Montefiore Hospital. Please contact us at 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.

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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