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News on Nursing in the Media


Malcolm will keep you company

June 9, 2009 -- Tonight's episode of Fox's summer drama Mental illustrates the peripheral subordinate role played by the show's one recurring nurse character. It also reminds us that, despite the two nurse-focused summer shows that have received recent attention, physician-centric shows like Mental and USA Network's hit Royal Pains continue to attract many more total viewers--especially if you count the summer re-runs of Fox's House and ABC's Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scrubs. Mental is essentially a variation of House. In both shows, a brilliant hospital physician uses unorthodox, at times outrageous methods to diagnose and treat challenging conditions, amazing his less gifted fellow physicians and earning the tolerance of a long-suffering female boss. The twists in Mental are that the patients all have psychiatric problems, so instead of inside views of patients' bodies, we explore the troubled patients' minds. Also, Mental's lead character Jack Gallagher is charming and social, rather than a witty but obnoxious loner. Jack and four other physician characters provide all important patient care, including psychosocial care. Nurse Malcolm Washington does care about the patients. In one scene here, he reports a basic symptom, one that anyone would notice. In another scene, he briefly advocates for the patient, making a point that is understandable but uninformed. In general, he seems to be on hand to perform basic physical tasks and keep patients company, as Jack puts it at one point. And Malcolm's manner is more that of a faithful assistant than a college-educated professional. The episode, "Book of Judges," was written by co-creator Dan Levine and drew 4.7 million viewers. more...


Can we get cultures on that?

June 2009 -- A recent article in the Colorado Springs Gazette highlighted the continuing problem of physician abuse of nurses in some care settings. John Ensslin's June 26 piece was "Nurse sues Memorial, claims surgeon threw human tissue at her." The story reports that in mid-2008, Bryan Mahan, the chairman of cardiac and thoracic surgery at Memorial Hospital, allegedly threw and hit operating room nurse Sonja Morris with a 4-by-6-inch piece of bloody tissue (the pericardium), and committed other physical assaults on her. Morris says she complained to the hospital with no result, then filed a gender discrimination claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Morris says hospital administrators soon transferred her from the heart surgery team to the main operating room, which is considered less prestigious. She finally filed suit in federal court against the hospital--but not Mahan--on the grounds that she was demoted for complaining about the abuse. Commentary from local nurses posted on the Gazette's web site in response to the story suggests that physician abuse of nurses has been tolerated at the hospital, and that one reason for such tolerance is money. Since physicians are viewed as vital revenue generators, there is a strong incentive to ignore or excuse their misconduct. Of course, patients could not survive surgeries without nurses, and physician abuse of nurses is a major threat to that survival as well, since it is difficult for abused nurses to perform their work as effectively. In addition to economics, the historic power imbalance between the two professions, and between the two genders, would seem to play a role in the cycle of abuse and impunity as well. The Gazette might have provided more context and detail, but we thank the paper and the nurses who responded for drawing attention to these important issues. more...


Come meet Sandy Summers!

August 10-11, 2009 -- The Truth About Nursing's executive director Sandy Summers will be speaking in Las Vegas and Reno in two weeks. 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

October 22: American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators

November 11: Vermont State Nurses Association

Click here to see our calendar for more details.


The Truth About Nursing and Saving Lives covered in the press

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle -- On July 22, 2009, Melissa Pheterson's article "TV dramas put nurses in new spotlight: Medical professionals will keep a keen eye on three new shows" appeared. It discussed The Truth About Nursing and our book Saving Lives. The article was also printed in the New York Nurses Network magazines and posted on on July 22.

New Zealand Nursing Review -- In the July 2009 issue, Fiona Cassie discussed the Truth's work and Saving Lives in "Tuning Out the Stereotypes: Does it matter that nurses are scarcely visible in television's top-rating hospital dramas? American nursing advocactes Sandy and Harry Summers say it does and they've written the book to prove it."


Saving Lives is now available on Kindle!

Your copy of the award winning book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk is now available on Kindle. Click here to begin reading.


Please support The Truth About Nursing

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!


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.  


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.


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 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790



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book cover, Saving lives

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