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News on Nursing in the Media


What does that M.D. mean?

February 3, 2009 -- The two episodes of ABC's Scrubs aired tonight included plotlines that highlighted physician disrespect of nurses, and that even included references to forced overtime. In a major plotline in the first episode, lone major nurse character Carla Espinosa was caught between her close relations with the show's physician characters and her role as "head nurse," a representative of the hospital's downtrodden nursing staff. The show deserves credit for this effort. Sadly, the plotlines were largely undermined by the show's deeply flawed vision of nursing. Key problems were the usual incorrect indications that the nurses report to the chief of medicine, who even makes nursing schedules; that physicians should and do control patient care plans and have no need to justify them to nurses, even when the nurses present an apparently better option; that physician knowledge is far superior to that of nurses, when nurses actually know far more than physicians about many important aspects of patient care; and that the problem with physician abuse of nurses is mainly that it's not nice and creates bad workplace relations, when in fact it endangers patients and contributes to the nursing crisis. The first episode, Dave Tennant's "My New Role," drew about 4.9 million viewers; the second episode, Debra Fordham's "My Lawyer's in Love," drew about 4.7 million. more...and see the film clips.


Against everything she has been taught

March 22, 2009 -- Today the Sunday Times (U.K.) ran a long feature by Amy Turner about the harm that used needles cause in India, where they kill an estimated 300,000 people each year. Most of the piece is devoted to general discussion of the problem, with comment from corporate and non-governmental officials involved with global safe injection efforts. But there is also the story of a nurse at a Delhi hospital who is deeply distressed because she regularly gives injections with used needles she knows are unsafe. Apparently she does so because she feels it would be pointless--and endanger her employment and social situation--to question the revered physicians and hospital managers who insist on the practice. The report does not explore potential measures to address that power imbalance, focusing instead on technological efforts to reduce the epidemic, mainly "auto-disable" syringes. It would have been useful for the reporter to interview not just a guilt-ridden nurse, but also a physician who might defend the use of such needles or otherwise comment. But the piece does highlight one striking example of the harm to global health that occurs when nurses feel they lack the power to advocate effectively for their patients. We thank Ms. Turner and the Sunday Times. more...


See nurse Theresa Brown's fabulous blog entries on Tara Parker-Pope's New York Times health blog

Good Grief, Nurse Brown, April 1, 2009

A Nurse's Distress Over a Dying Patient, March 18, 2009

The Night the Professor Became a Nurse, February 25, 2009

Can Nurses Care Too Much? February 4, 2009


Can you help support The Truth About Nursing?

We know this is a difficult time for many of us, but starting a new organization from scratch takes a lot of resources. We need your help so we can pursue this mission together. We would be very grateful if you could make a donation--even if it is $5, $10 or $25. Any amount would be so helpful. Please click here to donate. Thank you!


Let Sandy Summers empower your group at its next event!

Media images of health care--like the ones on ABC's popular "Grey's Anatomy"--have an important effect on the nursing profession. Many nurses and nursing students feel frustrated when influential media products undervalue nurses. But how can we change what the media tells the public about nursing? Sandy Summers has led high-profile efforts to promote more accurate and robust depictions of nursing since 2001. She has shared her insights in dynamic presentations to groups across North America. She empowers nurses and teaches them how to shape their image into one that reflects the profession's true value. When nurses get the respect they deserve, they will attract more resources for nursing practice, education, and research, so we can resolve the nursing shortage. Sign Sandy up for your next conference, nurses' week celebration, or gala event! Click here for more details.


Saving Lives -- Educating society about the value of nursing

Our new book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk uses striking examples and an irreverent style to explore nursing stereotypes from TV shows to the news media. We hope every nurse will read it and consider the role the media plays in nursing today--and how we can improve the profession's public image. But the book also explains nursing in compelling terms to the public and decision-makers. We want as many non-nurses as possible to read it. Here are some ideas to spread the word about nursing and the media:

  1. You can educate the public by posting flyers online, on community bulletin boards, or in other places. You can educate nurses about their profession's media image by posting copies of flyers on bulletin boards and breakrooms at their workplace or school. Click here to help us distribute the flyers.
  2. Consider using the book in your classroom to teach students about professional development. The book stimulates discussion on a variety of relevant issues, including the development of different views of the profession, the role of gender, and relations with physicians. And it is vital that the next generation learn how to interact with the media and present a more professional image. Saving Lives is a very affordable textbook. For 10 or more copies, please contact Malgorzata Drozniak at Kaplan Publishing at or 212-618-2469 for very good bulk discounts.
  3. Do you have friends or family members who would benefit from an engaging look at nursing today--one that draws on a range of popular culture items to make its points? Get them a copy of Saving Lives--they will learn the value of nursing by reading the book. You can get a copy from us and even request a certain inscription, or get a copy from your favorite bookseller or Barnes & Noble or Amazon.
  4. Help us send copies of Saving Lives to influential members of the media and key political decision-makers. If you donate $40 to The Truth About Nursing, we will send you a signed copy of Saving Lives and send an additional copy to a media creator or an influential decision-maker. You can let us choose the decision-maker from our list, or you can identify a decision-maker of your own. We'll send it for you. Click here to order!
  5. Please write customer reviews of Saving Lives at the Barnes & Noble or Amazon websites, or the website of your favorite bookseller. The more positive reactions Saving Lives receives, the better we will be able to spread its messages about the importance of nursing. Thank you!
  6. Consider giving this year's nursing graduates a copy of Saving Lives--we can even sign them for you. Contact us for details.
  7. Please distribute our press release to your local media. Ask them to interview us or write an article about the book.
  8. Please forward this news alert to anyone who might be interested and ask them to get involved with our mission to remake how society thinks about nursing.  


Help people think about nursing!

We have created two provocative new flyers, and if you like them, please help us distribute them as widely as possible. The "Not What They Say I Am" flyer sends a message that many media depictions of nurses are not accurate and that nurses object to them, in part because they undermine nurses' claims to adequate resources. This is a key message of the Truth About Nursing, and one explored in detail in our new book Saving Lives. The ironic "Hooray for Hollywood" flyer sends the message that, in our view, there has been little for nurses to cheer about in recent Hollywood depictions of their work. Popular TV shows like "House" and "Grey's Anatomy" have repeatedly offered inaccurate and damaging images of nursing, and we hope the flyer will cause those who see it to reconsider those images. The small print on the flyers directs people to our book and The Truth's website to learn more. see the full posters and links for downloading and or request flyers be sent to you...



The Truth About Nursing is a Maryland non-profit corporation. We will soon apply to the IRS for 501(c)(3) charitable organization status. If we receive 501(c)(3) status, then donations we receive (minus the fair market value of the book or any other member gift) will be tax-deductible as allowed by law.

To make a donation of a different amount or to receive different member gifts, please see our regular donation page.

Thank you for supporting the Truth About Nursing's work!

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1099
fax 1-410-510-1790



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book cover, Saving lives

A Few Successes —
We Can Change the Media!

Educate the world that nurses save lives!

Save Lives. Be a Nurse. bumper sticker