News on Nursing in the Media
June 29, 2009 -- Tonight's episode of Showtime's Nurse Jackie highlights the expert psychosocial care Jackie Peyton and her nurse colleague Mohammed (Mo-Mo) de la Cruz give to ED patients and families. No one could mistake these nurses' thoughtful, sensitive care for unskilled hand-holding. The episode also suggests that physicians are often less adept at these tasks, even though they may receive all the credit from those the nurses have helped. Once again, the show's nurses play a central role in patient care, and Jackie ably trains more junior health team members. At the same time, the episode features a remarkable scene in which a school nurse goes head to head with Jackie about whether Jackie's daughter has a potentially serious anxiety disorder that may require medication; both of them seem to have valid points. One less impressive aspect of the episode involves Jackie ordering the removal of a patient's non-disruptive mother and twin brother from a trauma room without asking if they want to stay, just like the physician characters in other hospital shows do, with no hint of the potential benefits of family presence. This fourth episode, "School Nurse," was written by Christine Zander. more...
July 9, 2009 -- In the June 4, 2009 premiere of USA Network's new hit summer drama Royal Pains, the brilliant and heroic physician character Hank Lawson was fired and blackballed by a New York City hospital for treating all patients equally. Afterwards, Hank lamented that he could not even find a job as a school nurse! (See the Quicktime clips at broadband or dialup speed.) The message for the episode's 5.6 million viewers was that there could not be a more trivial and unskilled job for a health worker than that of school nurses, who presumably spend their days placing band-aids on scraped knees. But in fact Hank could not get a job as a school nurse because he has not spent years in nursing school, has no nursing license, and knows little about nursing. While the contempt in this episode continues to infect the mass media, it's no surprise that real school nurses struggle for the resources they need to save lives and improve student health. Ryan Blackburn's May 8, 2009 story in the Athens Banner-Herald (GA) explained that school nurses manage chronic health issues like allergies, diabetes, and seizures so students can continue learning. Anemona Hartocollis's April 28 New York Times article described the work of New York City school nurse Mary Pappas. She became "a sort of folk hero to nurses" for setting in motion the governmental response to the recent swine flu outbreak, identifying and managing hundreds of students' symptoms in a way that might even impress Hank Lawson out in the Hamptons! And today the Associated Press ran an excellent item by Lauran Neergaard about Pappas's "riveting" performance at the Obama Administration's swine flu summit. There the nurse explained how she handled the huge triage challenge in April, and her plans for the coming flu season, offering this pointed advice to the government: "Every school needs a nurse." Kris Sherman's March 8 article in the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) offered a tragic example of what happened in that same October at a local school with no nurse: A fifth-grader died from a massive asthma attack, even though she was taken to a school health room where materials were reserved specifically to save her life. No one with significant health training was there to use them. These recent press pieces paint a picture of a vital professional specialty worthy of more than the undervaluation that has strained its members beyond the breaking point--and that continues to take our children's lives. We urge everyone to help change that situation. Join the National Association of School Nurses in the effort to pass the student to school ratio improvement act and ask your organization to join their list of supporters. more...and take action to support school nurses!
ADVANCE for Nurses -- Editor Gail Guterl previews Saving Lives in advance of the book's featured selection for the ADVANCE Book Club for Nurses. Her piece entitled "A Closer Look at Nursing's Image" discusses how the book is "raising [her] consciousness as to nursing's image" and how it "point[s] out all kinds of ways nurses are dissed in entertainment and news media." See her preview here...
August 10-11, 2009 -- The Truth About Nursing's executive director Sandy Summers will be speaking in Las Vegas and Reno in about a week. Come on out and see her, and be part of the conversation on changing how the public thinks about nursing. There is a seating limit, so please check with event hosts for space availability. See our list of events this summer and fall:
August 10: Nevada Nurses Association
August 11: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
October 4: South Dakota Nurses Association
October 9: Children's Hospital Association of Texas
November 11: Vermont State Nurses Association
Click here to see our calendar for more details.
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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:
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.
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.
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Thank you for supporting the Truth About Nursing's work!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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