News on Nursing in the Media
December 6, 2009 -- Over the last year, Theresa Brown has posted some powerful items on the New York Times' prominent "Well" blog about her experiences as a new oncology nurse. These have included posts on the emotional dynamics of shaving the heads of cancer patients when they've lost a lot of hair; the pointless and even harmful things the medical community sometimes does to preserve life that cannot be preserved for long; and the negative effects that the current health insurance system can have on patients. But today Brown published an op-ed in her local newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that makes a persuasive case for health insurance reform. The op-ed uses the examples of three specific patients confronting a health insurance system that does not seem to be designed to meet their needs, to say the least. Brown's piece is a good example of patient advocacy. But the op-ed is also helpful advocacy for nursing--though she says nothing directly about the profession--because it presents nurses themselves as articulate professionals looking carefully at the big picture and trying to improve health care financing structures that seem to threaten patients' lives. more...
December 2009 -- A new global initiative founded by three prominent nursing groups is seeking to have the United Nations declare 2010 the "International Year of the Nurse," in honor of the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's death. The founding groups are Sigma Theta Tau International, the Florence Nightingale Museum in London, and the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health (NIGH). The NIGH notes that the 2010 initiative "seeks to recognize the contributions of nurses globally and to engage nurses in the promotion of world health, including the UN Millennium Development Goals." These eight goals call for the reduction of poverty, universal primary education, gender equality, better maternal health, reduced child mortality, fighting diseases including AIDS, environmental sustainability, and developing a "global partnership for development." The focus on such broad goals illustrates the holistic, policy-oriented approach of strong nursing advocates. The "2010 IYNurse" initiative envisions holding events as part of a "celebration of commitment" to help the world's estimated 15 million nurses "showcase their unique contributions toward the achievement of health and well-being for everyone." One event planned is the Million Nurse Global Caring Field Project. It aims to "create and radiate an energetic Caring Consciousness Field of Heart-Centered Love for Self, Others, and the Planet Earth," and to "extend the human caring vibration of nurses into the universal energy field of humanity facilitating healing and health for all." We commend those involved with these initiatives for their efforts to increase global understanding of the contributions of nurses. And we urge them to convey not only that nurses extend caring vibrations into the universal energy field, but also that nurses are educated, skilled health professionals with a unique scope of practice who need public and private sector support in order to save lives and improve outcomes. Learn more at www.2010iynurse.net
September 30, 2009 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's Mercy included two plotlines that highlighted strong, innovative patient advocacy by lead character Veronica Callahan and novice nurse Chloe Payne. In one plotline, Veronica fights through abuse from an injured patient who is furious that his leg, shredded in an accident, has been amputated without his knowledge. Veronica brings the patient some closure by retrieving the leg from the hospital's bio-waste department and bringing it to him so he can say goodbye. Meanwhile, Chloe helps a patient who seems like no more than a manipulative drug addict, despite mockery from other nurses and skepticism from physician Dan Harris. This patient claims that a pounding in the ears has driven him to his OxyContin addiction. Chloe determines that the pounding is real, and caused by a blood vessel about to burst, simply by applying her stethoscope to his external ear, which evidently no one else thought to do. These plotlines have some silly elements, but they both show the episode's 7.4 million U.S. viewers that nurses' job is, as Veronica actually tells Chloe, to advocate for their patients. The episode is show creator Liz Heldens's "I Believe You Conrad." more...
September 14, 2009 -- Today United Press International (UPI) issued a short item about the pain management research of Johns Hopkins nurse scholars Gayle Page and Sharon Kozachik. The main idea is that the nurses have "determined through research that pain management is not only a matter of compassion, but a medical necessity for patients to heal"--a statement that could as easily be made about the profession of nursing, which many decision-makers see as being more about compassion than life-saving. The piece includes short quotes by both scholars. Page says pain is an "exquisite stressor" because it affects so many components of wellbeing, from sleep to the ability to heal. Kozachik describes the challenge of finding the point at which pain is adequately managed--a line that is vital to clinical care. The piece notes that the research relies on animal studies; it does not explore the ethical issues involved. The item might have described more of the specific effects of this research on patient outcomes and costs, and told readers that Page and Kozachik are leading scholars with doctorates. But on the whole, the piece is a good example of press coverage of nursing research, coverage that remains rare. Indeed, though the UPI item (presumably the result of a September 11 Hopkins press release) was noted on a few health-oriented web sites, we saw no other mainstream press coverage. We commend UPI and Hopkins for their efforts to inform the public about the value of nursing research. more...
December 21, 2009 -- Today the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website posted an item about the "Nurse John" character played by rocker Lenny Kravitz in the acclaimed new movie Precious (we understand the character is actually a nursing assistant). The RWJF item, "Silver Screen's 'Nurse John' Wins Kudos from Male Nurses," relied in part on analysis from Saving Lives about the importance of increasing the number of men in nursing.
November 2009 - January 2010 -- This quarterly edition of Nevada RNFormation, the official journal of the Nevada Nurses Association, included an extensive discussion of our book Saving Lives by journalist and Truth advisory panel member Hope Keller. Please scroll to p. 7.
November 2009 - January 2010 -- This quarterly edition of The Prairie Rose, the official journal of the North Dakota Nurses Association, included a short review of Saving Lives under the headline "Recommended Reading." Please scroll to p. 10.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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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:
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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
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