News on Nursing in the Media
September 23, 2009 -- The series premiere of NBC's drama Mercy presents a group of attractive young Jersey City hospital nurses as downtrodden working girls, failing to get the respect they deserve from physicians or patients. Lead character Veronica Callahan displays advanced psychosocial and life-saving skills, though the show attributes the latter to her tour of duty in Iraq, rather than nursing education and experience. Like the lead characters on Showtime's Nurse Jackie and TNT's HawthoRNe, Veronica is a fighter, telling physicians off and doing what she thinks best to protect patients. Unfortunately, the show seems to think she reports to the physicians, a major flaw. As in the premiere of Jackie, Veronica warns a young physician that a patient may have a critical problem; he ignores it, the patient dies, and the nurse tears into him. As on HawthoRNe, Veronica's disregard for protocol repeatedly gets her in trouble with superiors, in her case the apparent chief of medicine. Like Jackie, Veronica is self-medicating, in her case with alcohol and "delicious Paxil" for what seems like PTSD from the war. As on Jackie, Veronica's nurse sidekicks include a smart but clueless novice who favors mockable patterned scrubs, as well as a wisecracking gay man. Veronica is separated from her pugnacious contractor husband, who persuades her not to divorce him, though she still has a strong thing for a hot surgeon she hooked up with in Iraq--and who has pursued her to her new hospital. So like Jackie, Veronica looks set for a love triangle involving her working class husband and a colleague with more education. Her nurse friend Sonia connects with a nice, funny police officer, but she is desperate to escape what the show sees as the violence and unpaid bills of the working class; she wants a wealthy Manhattan lawyer. In any case, like the two summer shows, Mercy is raising important nursing issues other hospital shows rarely have. The premiere ("Can We Get That Drink Now?"), written by show creator Liz Heldens, drew 8.2 million viewers. more...
August 20, 2009 -- Today the Times of India briefly reported that a court in Madras had upheld the Tamil Nadu government's decision to bar male candidates from a "diploma course in nursing," apparently indefinitely, on the grounds that the course syllabus had been changed to include midwifery, and anyway, government hospitals will have enough "male nurses" till 2045. An applicant denied admission had challenged the new policy on the grounds that it violated the constitutional right to be free of gender discrimination. The jurist responsible for the court decision was Justice K Suguna, who is female. The government's action appears to reflect damaging gender assumptions, including that no one wants men to provide pre- or post-natal care (does that apply to male physicians?), and that male nurses are "needed" only in practice settings that presumably are seen to require their special physical attributes, like jails and orthopedics. Sadly, any action that reduces the presence of men in nursing is likely to weaken and isolate the profession even further, exacerbating the global nursing crisis. The Times of India might have raised some of these issues or at least sought comment from nursing experts, but we thank the paper for its report on this important subject. more...
Los Angeles Times -- Marc Siegel's October 19, 2009 column "The Unreal World," featured quotes from our executive director Sandy Summers. The column analyzes the accuracy of health care depictions on television. This column covered the Sept. 23 episode of Mercy entitled "Can We Get That Drink Now."
101 Global Leadership Lessons for Nurses -- Truth About Nursing executive director Sandy Summers and board member Richard Kimball jointly wrote a chapter entitled "Autonomy" in the new book 101 Global Leadership Lessons for Nurses: Shared Legacies from Leaders and their Mentors, edited by Nancy Rollins Gantz. The book was published earlier this month (October 2009) by Sigma Theta Tau International.
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 to the resources they need to save lives and improve patient outcomes. Could you please download the 8.5" x 14" or 8.5" x 11" version and post a few at your workplace or school? Thank you very much for your help! Please let us know where and how many you are posting so we can get a sense of the reach of our campaign. Thank you!
November 11, 2009 -- The Truth About Nursing's executive director Sandy Summers will be speaking at various locations across the U.S. 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 the final engagement on our list of events this fall:
November 11: Vermont State Nurses Association (Stowe)
Click here to see our calendar for more details.
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:
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
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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