News on Nursing in the Media
April 29, 2009 -- ABC's Private Practice, whose season ends tomorrow, April 30, may be the only broadcast network show with a major nurse character to return next season. In the February 5 episode (Mike Ostrowski's "Acceptance," 13 million U.S. viewers), lone nurse character Dell Parker, who is studying to be a midwife, shows some tentative clinical aptitude and knowledge to go with his boyish eagerness. Under the close supervision of OB/GYN Addison Montgomery, Dell ably performs a vacuum-assisted delivery. Later he haltingly guides the baby's parents toward breastfeeding. Dell also performs an assured solo ultrasound of pregnant psychiatrist Violet Turner, calming her panic attack and eliciting her agreement to his own suggestion that, though he's "not a doctor," he will likely become a "pretty good midwife." The show still condescends to Dell, who is also the office manager/receptionist at the LA clinic where the show is set. In the March 26 episode (Craig Turk's "Do the Right Thing," 10.1 million U.S. viewers), Dell starts hooking up with young women by pretending to be a physician. This earns quietly amused derision from the elite physician characters. Of course, neither registered nurses nor physicians are qualified to do the job of the other group. But aspiring advanced practice nurses, who may be wrongly perceived as "wannabe" physicians, would be unlikely to reinforce that impression, which would suggest a lack of respect for nursing and themselves. Needless to say, Private Practice remains physician-centric, with its many physician characters often doing key care tasks that nurses generally do in real life. Still, on balance, the early 2009 episodes seem to represent a small step forward in the show's portrayal of nursing. more... see film clips of the show and please join our letter-writing campaign!
April 2009 -- Recent news items illustrate important aspects of the nurse practitioner experience today. A February 22 report on National Public Radio's All Things Considered provided a basic look at the doctorate of nursing practice degree, and even allowed articulate nurses to explain its value. However, parts of Sally Herships's piece appeared to accept unsupported physician claims that calling nurses "doctor" would cause confusion or harm patients, despite the absurdity of the supposed linguistic crisis. Meanwhile, veteran NP and DNP student Diane Caruso published a March 14 op-ed in the Winston-Salem Journal (NC) urging the public to support health care financing reform, in order to enable the 45 million uninsured U.S. residents to obtain care. Caruso refuted some basic arguments of those who oppose reform, but the most powerful element in her column was the story of a disabled patient who has fallen in the cracks of the current financing system. We commend Caruso and the "doctor nurses" included in the NPR piece for their advocacy. more...
April 29, 2009 -- The Truth About Nursing's discussion board has just gone live. Please feel free to discuss the news items we post, media you have seen on nursing, calls to action, or other topics. As Linda Richman from Coffee Talk would say, "Discuss." click here to start posting...
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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.
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:
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...
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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
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Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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