News on Nursing in the Media
Fall 2009 TV Preview
September 2009 -- The fall 2009 U.S. television season includes an unusually high number of health-related shows, and although one new show actually focuses on nurses and another on paramedics, overall the landscape seems likely to remain dominated by programs that reinforce the notion that physicians provide all important health care. Of the nine health-related prime time shows (including four new dramas) that are slated to start seasons in the fall or mid-season, regular physician characters appear to outnumber nurse characters by roughly 50 to 7. And four of those seven nurses are on NBC's new Mercy (premiering Sept. 23), which follows several nurses at a New Jersey hospital. Mercy will be the first nurse-focused regular season show to appear in more than 15 years. Previews suggest that it may actually show some nursing expertise and nurse-physician conflict, as on this summer's new shows Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe, though Mercy seems to be more about the romance. The other new shows are adrenaline-fueled dramas that seem to want to be the new ER, which ended its 15-year run on NBC earlier this year. The new shows are Three Rivers (CBS, Oct. 4), which follows elite Pittsburgh transplant surgeons; Trauma (NBC, Sept. 28), a show about San Francisco paramedics and EMTs that manages to limit itself to just one physician and a paramedic with an MD; and a Jerry Bruckheimer project about an elite team of trauma surgeons that was called Miami Trauma (CBS, mid-season), but is apparently being reworked. Both Three Rivers and Miami Trauma have one nurse, but neither character seems likely to play an important role. The returning shows are the surgeon soap Grey's Anatomy (ABC, Sept. 24), with its unmatched line-up of 12 physicians and no nurses; the diagnosis-is-everything House (Fox, Sept. 21), with eight physicians and no nurses; the Grey's spin-off Private Practice (ABC, Oct. 1), with seven physicians and the novice nurse-midwifery student Dell Parker; the nasty plastic surgery drama nip/tuck (FX, Oct. 14), returning for a final nurse-free season; and the Lazarus-like Scrubs (ABC, mid-season), which will move to a medical school setting, with only two of its previous physician characters remaining as professors and a new crop of medical student characters, but apparently no nurses. more...and please learn how you can help us in monitoring these television shows.
July 14, 2009 -- Two recent press articles reflect some of the complex issues nursing faces in Europe during the current shortage, though the specific subjects of the stories could hardly be more different. Today, the Denver Post ran an Associated Press story by Daniel Woolls reporting that the infant son of the first person to die of H1N1 flu in Spain had himself died because of what appeared to be a tragic nursing error. The piece says that a nurse working her first shift in the NICU had apparently fed the baby formula intravenously, rather than through a naso-gastric tube. The main Spanish nursing union urged caution pending an investigation, stressing that the nation's hospitals do not have enough nurses, and those who are working may not have the specialized experience needed on their units. On May 24, the New York Times published a piece by Dan Bilefsky focusing on the inducements desperate employers are offering to lure nurses to jobs in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. These include free plastic surgery. Reactions to this not only underline the severity of the shortage in a nation that has lost many of its nurses to better-paying jobs abroad, but also reveal public attitudes toward the underpowered profession, which is still associated with female subservience and sexual attractiveness. Taken together, these generally good pieces suggest (though neither actually says) that nurses remain caught in a dangerous disconnect between their image as disposable female helpers and their actual life-and-death responsibilities to patients. more...
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!
October 4, 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 our list of events this fall:
October 4: South Dakota Nurses Association (Sioux Falls)
October 9: Children's Hospital Association of Texas (Corpus Christi)
October 22: American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators (Baltimore)
November 11: Vermont State Nurses Association (Stowe)
Click here to see our calendar 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.
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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