News on Nursing in the Media
Below is our review of the first episode of Showtime's new television show Nurse Jackie. Please consider that what Nurse Jackie says about nursing is far different from what it is saying about its main character. We urge you to keep an open mind and watch the show in full. We know not all readers will agree with our review. Even so, we are hoping that nurses will use the show as a vehicle to teach friends, family and society what nursing is, what nursing is not and what nursing could and should be. A powerful, critically-acclaimed nurse-centered television show has been a long time coming. Let's use what we can from it to change how the world thinks about nursing. Thanks for tuning in.
Sandy Summers, Executive Director, The Truth About Nursing
Make me good, God. But not yet.
St. Augustine; Nurse Jackie
June 8, 2009 -- Tonight's series premiere of Showtime's "dark comedy" Nurse Jackie is a brutal subversion of the unskilled angel stereotype. The first significant nurse-focused show to emerge from Hollywood in more than 15 years, Nurse Jackie may be the strongest--though not most positive--fictional TV portrayal of a modern nurse that we have ever seen. Jackie Peyton is a New York City ED nurse. Like esteemed TV physicians Greg House (Fox's House) and John Carter (NBC's ER), Jackie is a high-functioning drug addict. But she is also a tough, life-saving nurse who works at the center of patient care, and the show is unusually alert to what nurses experience. Jackie displays formidable clinical expertise, advocates forcefully to save a patient from an arrogant young physician (though she does not save that patient), and provides adroit psychosocial care to patients and families, as well as tough love mentoring to an innocent nursing student--and the physician. Also, she is a major wit. Jackie is not a role model in some respects. To treat a bad back, she takes powerful painkillers that she gets illegally from her pharmacist boyfriend. She has sex with him in the hospital pharmacy. She forges an organ donor card after a young patient dies. She flushes a diplomat's severed ear down the toilet upon learning that he will not be prosecuted for a vicious assault on a prostitute. She steals a wad of the diplomat's money and gives it to the organ donor's impoverished, pregnant girlfriend. And viewers may not get that it was her job as a nurse (not just as Jackie) to protect her patient from the physician; they might wrongly assume that physicians are ultimately in charge of patient care, and Jackie is just unusually assertive. But nothing else here reinforces the stereotypes that have led the public to undervalue nursing. Jackie is deeply flawed, like real people, but she is not a brainless physician helper, a naughty nurse, or an angel, though the nursing student calls her a "saint." Since Jackie seems to leave few Commandments unbroken, "God's rogue henchman" might be closer to the mark. She is like a Jack Bauer (24) of the ED (Jackie Bauer!), an extraordinary operative doing things she has no real right to do so she can achieve her vision of social welfare. Still, there is more intelligent life in this pilot than in a whole season of some hospital shows, and Jackie may well end up as one of the most important fictional nurses in history. The episode was written by series creators Liz Brixius & Linda Wallem and Evan Dunsky. more...
St. Petersburg Times (Florida) "Hawthorne and Nurse Jackie give a different view of nursing" by Eric Deggans, June 7, 2009.
HealthLeaders "Skepticism and Some Optimism Surround New Nursing Dramas" by Keri Mucci, June 4, 2009.
Remembering an 'Ordinary' Patient, May 27, 2009
We would like to reach out to professors who teach professional development to discuss how Saving Lives might enhance their class curricula and discussions about nursing's public image. If you put us in touch with those professors, or tell those professors about the book, we can spread the reach of Saving Lives. Please send contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
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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...
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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