November 15, 2009 -- Today the Sunday Times (U.K.) ran a piece by columnist Minette Marrin attacking the government's plan to require that all nurses have a three- or four-year university degree by 2013. Marrin (below right) argues that the plan would have "disastrous" effects primarily because it would exclude those who would make "excellent" nurses even though they are "not particularly academic" or "not particularly bright." Evidently, the plan is an example of "equality disease": the misguided effort to extend university education to more people, and to consider as "professional" many jobs that do not merit that exalted status. Marrin actually argues that university degrees inhibit good nursing, because they produce nurses who are not necessarily "too posh to wash," but who are not much good at it, with their heads full of all that irrelevant theory. Nurses should not seek equal status with physicians, she suggests; apparently they should be satisfied to be considered handmaidens. The column is so full of uninformed disrespect that it's hard to know where to begin a response. But we'll try to be professional about it. Nursing is an autonomous profession with a distinct scope of practice built on scientific knowledge. The vast majority of U.S. nurses have college degrees that require three or four years of training, and hundreds of thousands have graduate degrees (i.e., at least six years of university training). Research shows that higher levels of nursing education improve patient outcomes. New physicians have little practical experience, but no one argues that their formal training is wasted. The argument against nursing education is based on the false assumption that nursing is mainly about physical labor and hand-holding. But in an increasingly complex care environment in which physicians and others have graduate degrees, nurses cannot provide expert direct care or advocate effectively for patients without advanced training. more... And please click here to educate Ms. Marrin about what nursing is and is not.
Success (sort of)!
November 30, 2009 -- Today the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) removed its Dr. Lung Love rap music video--which promotes lung cancer awareness with naughty, subservient "nurses"--from the group's lunglove.com website. LCA has also removed any significant reference to the video on the main LCA web site. LCA's actions came in the wake of a substantial article on the Truth's campaign about the video in the November 23 issue of Modern Healthcare, the influential magazine for health care executives ("Outliers: Sure, we've heard of bad raps...but this is ridiculous"). We thank Modern Healthcare and you for your 111 letters (42 of them original!), which were indispensable in getting this result. While LCA has failed to remove the video from YouTube and or seek its removal from websites that have cross-posted it, the group has at least made a step in the right direction. Please send LCA one last letter asking it to remove the video wherever it can. Thanks again! more...
August 11, 2009 -- Tonight's episode of TNT's HawthoRNe included several generally helpful plotlines exploring nursing autonomy, advocacy, and skill. The episode focuses on the intersection between the hospital CEO's efforts to get CNO Christina Hawthorne to cut her staff in order to reduce the hospital budget, on the one hand, and the tragic events that ensue after a woman brings her mother to the ED for treatment of a stroke, on the other. New nurse Kelly Epson manages, despite resistance from physician Brenda Marshall, to stop dangerous treatment of the stroke victim. But Kelly's advocacy also puts her job in peril. Nurse Ray Stein actually saves the life of his nemesis, Larry the accountant, who is choking on a donut. The plotlines have some problems, like nurse Candy's odd chastising of Ray for wanting it understood that the donut did not dislodge itself (as Larry claimed), and Ray's even more bizarre hookup with the awful Marshall after he confronts her for abusing Kelly. But on the whole the episode presents nurses as serious professionals saving or trying to save patients with advanced skills and tenacious advocacy. And the show's portrayal of the CNO as a clinical leader fighting for her staff? Some nurses may be skeptical, but we think there is room for at least one positive Hollywood vision of a nurse executive. After all, Hollywood has offered countless positive portrayals of senior physicians. The episode, "Mother's Day," was written by Glen Mazzara. more...
New Truth About Nursing FAQ:
In our new FAQ, we explore a few dramatic comparisons that illustrate how poorly nursing is valued and funded relative to medicine and other professions. See the comparisons...
November 23, 2009 -- This week's issue of the influential health industry magazine Modern Healthcare included an Outliers piece headlined, "We've heard of bad raps...but this is ridiculous." The article reported on the Lung Cancer Alliance's (LCA) "Dr. Lung Love" rap video, and the Truth's campaign to persuade LCA to remove the video's "naughty nurse" elements. The piece described the video as "cringe-inducing," and it included a long quote from the Truth's analysis of why, as we said, the video "plays into powerful stereotypes viewers already have: that female nurses really are the submissive  playthings of male physicians.” see the article...
December 9, 2009 -- Today the Truth's executive director Sandy Summers sat on a Dorland Health webinar panel on "Conflict and Intimidation in Health Care Settings: How To Protect Patient Care and Defuse Hostile Behaviors."
December 1, 2009 -- This biweekly issue of Critical Care Nurse included a positive review of our book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk.
November 24, 2009 -- The Truth was covered in today's RWJF column "In the Media: Advocates say media portrayals of nurses matter." The piece featured a quote from Saving Lives, which makes the point that ignorance about the nursing profession "undermines nurses’ claims to adequate staffing, nursing faculty, and other resources in our era of ruthless cost cutting."
We have created a new flyer and would like to ask your help. Our flyer is entitled: "Can Short Dresses Cause Short Staffing?" It explains how the naughty nurse and other stereotypes of nursing undermine nurses' claims for adequate resources that we need to save lives and improve patient outcomes. Please let us know if you can post some of these at your school or workplace and will send them out to you. Alternatively, you could download the 8.5" x 14" or 8.5" x 11" version and post a few. Please contact us at email@example.com and we'll send out the flyers. Thank you!
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 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!
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:
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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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