News on Nursing in the Media
May 6, 2009 -- Tonight, ABC will broadcast what seems to be the series finale of the irreverent sitcom Scrubs; the show may return next season without some central characters. For eight years (the first seven on NBC), the show has imagined what it might look like if a hospital were staffed by gifted insult comics with soft hearts. Like ER, which ended its far longer run just last month, Scrubs has been a highly physician-centric show that has included one major nurse character. That has always been Carla Espinosa (played by Judy Reyes), a no-nonsense, relatively normal bedside nurse who has at times been said to have a management role. Espinosa has generally been presented as a smart, skilled nurse with some leadership qualities. And the show has at times underlined her knowledge and good judgment, even showing her teach junior physicians. She is married to the new chief of surgery Turk, and she has long been perhaps the closest friend of the ornery chief of medicine Perry Cox. Despite all those connections, however, the show has (contrary to fact) made very clear that as a nurse, Carla reports to physicians, and that physicians are ultimately in charge of all aspects of patient care. The show has also featured extensive physician nursing, in which physicians do important care tasks that nurses generally do in real life, like bedside monitoring and psychosocial care, an enormous theme on Scrubs. Even so, the show has clearly been better for nursing than popular newer dramas like ABC's Grey's Anatomy. So tune in Wednesday, compose a wishful J.D.-style daydream in which the best Scrubs nursing moments were representative of the show as a whole, and give the show a not-so-bad five! Read more about Scrubs...
February 15, 2009 -- Today many press outlets ran a very good Associated Press story by Rasha Madkour about nascent efforts to keep new nurses at the bedside through nurse residency programs. The San Diego Union-Tribune headlined the piece "Amid nurse shortage, hospitals focus on retention." But the article really focuses on the particular problem of helping new nurses adjust to the intense demands of practice through formal, hospital-based training programs. The report gives a good basic sense of some of the major types of residency programs and how they can reduce the remarkably high 20% attrition rate for new nurses in the U.S. The article might have included more detail about features of the longer nurse residencies--which are still just one year--and more context regarding the far more extensive physician residencies, including the billions of dollars in federal government support those receive. We thank Madkour and the AP for this very helpful report on an important but often overlooked factor in the nursing shortage. more...and please join our letter-writing campaign!
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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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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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