Death by disrespect
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News on Nursing in the Media


The "tush grab": MSNBC on one man's "thank you" to his ED nurse

Saving Lives on sale for the holidays at less than $10! Help others understand nursing!

Dr. Oz naughty nurse update: Global coverage of Truth campaign leads to Oz apology...sort of

Death by disrespect: Reader's Digest reports on nurses and health care errors

First Annual Truth About Nursing Conference set for April 2011 in New Orleans!

Don't be lazy: Two good articles about nurse practitioner skills

Truth About Nursing media appearances

"Battle axes and frustrated shrews": Nursing Times publishes another of our pieces on the nursing image


You're a nurse, right?

butt grab nurseDecember 2, 2010 -- Today MSNBC ran a short "weird news" item about a common event:  sexual abuse based at least partly on patients' assumption that it's OK if the victim is a nurse. Teresa Masterson's piece tells the story of Joseph Wolf of Allentown, PA, a man who reportedly claimed that the reason he twice grabbed an emergency room nurse's buttocks was to say "thank you" for her care. Of course, this is a creative justification for abuse, but countless nurses have been "thanked" this way throughout their careers. What makes this story more notable is what Wolf apparently told the nurse after grabbing her: "Well, you're a nurse, right?" In other words, it's part of your job to provide sexual services, or at least to endure sexual abuse. Where would people get the idea that nurses are sex toys? Could it be the media, at least to some extent? You know--the same media the produces The Dr. Oz Show, which just last month included a segment featuring naughty "nurses" dancing with Oz as an "attempt at humor" in a segment about losing weight? When a prominent physician like Oz doesn't get it--even his "apology" suggested that he thought the nurses who objected were just too sensitive--what chance does the average patient have to understand these issues? It's as hard to imagine Oz dancing with women in naughty physician or lawyer outfits as it is to imagine a person following up a sexual assault with, "well, you're a physician," or "well, you're a lawyer." We thank MSNBC and other news outlets for reporting on this incident. But we saw no hint in these stories that most nurses experience this kind of abuse, or that not enough is done to address the abuse, to say nothing of the stereotypes that underlie it. more...


Saving Lives paperback coverSaving Lives on sale for the holidays for less than $10!
Help others understand nursing!

December 18, 2010 -- Just in time for holiday giving, the 2010 edition of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk now sells for less than $10 as a paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or as an iBook from Apple! And the B&N Nook edition is priced at less than $5! The 2010 edition of Saving Lives has a new foreword by bestselling nurse author Echo Heron. And it is revised and expanded, discussing Nurse Jackie and other new shows, and featuring updated information throughout. You can also get an author-signed paperback copy when you become a member of the Truth or renew your membership for $30 (click here!). Please help support the Truth's effort to change how the world thinks about nursing today. These affordably-priced editions make great holiday gifts for colleagues, students, or even to help family and friends understand the value of what nurses do. All royalties for the multiple award-winning book go directly to support non-profit nursing advocacy work. Thank you!


Dr. Oz naughty nurse update!

Global news coverage of Truth campaign results in Oz response that sort of resembles an apology!

Dr. Oz's "nurse"December 6, 2010 -- Today reporter Lynn Elber of the Associated Press covered our campaign to ask Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show, to apologize and make amends for a November 4 weight loss segment in which "nurses" "got sexy" and danced with Oz. The AP story quoted Truth director Sandy Summers and American Nurses Association spokeswoman Joan Hurwitz, who called the segment a "sexist caricature of nursing." The story was picked up by 2,200 news organs across the world, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Online Nigeria, the Times of India, New Zealand Yahoo  and the Arabic language Wael El-Ebrashy. Some publications wrote their own pieces; these included The Hartford Courant ("Does your nurse dance/dress provocatively?"), the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Mail, and TV Guide. In a statement released to the AP in response to the story, the show said that Oz "has worked alongside extraordinary nursing professionals throughout his medical career and holds nurses in the highest regard as they save lives and heal patients. Any attempt at humor should never call into question Dr. Oz's utmost respect for the nurses with whom he works and has lauded in other shows." The statement said that the segment "included a costume that was considered offensive to some and we apologize if there were any hurt feelings," and the show promised to "do better in the future." This is progress, though the hedging phrases "considered offensive to some" and "hurt feelings" clearly suggest that the show thinks the nurses who objected are just being too sensitive and that no serious issues are involved here. To our knowledge the show has done nothing to show that it really understands what it did wrong or that Oz intends to address the issue personally or to make amends. For instance, Oz might do something on air to address the poor public understanding of nursing to which his show contributed; he might show specifically how nurses "save lives and heal patients." Apart from the "saving lives" bit, the vague "lauding" on display in Oz's statement means little. But we believe that Oz and his producers do at least understand now that there is some problem with naughty nurse imagery, and that they will hesitate before using it again. We thank those who wrote the hundreds of powerful letters to Dr. Oz in support of the campaign. You made this possible! more...


Death by disrespect

nurse on telephoneOctober 2010 -- The cover story in this month's Reader's Digest offers a fairly strong look at hospital errors, relying mainly on short personal essays by five health professionals. Three are physicians, and the feature has other physician-centric elements, including the title on the magazine's cover, "Doctors Confess Their Fatal Mistakes." But the final essay is by nurse Sunnie Bell, who gives a powerful account of how a patient died because a physician ignored Bell's warnings. Bell then urges several specific improvements in nurses' working conditions. Her essay vividly illustrates how disrespect for nursing can kill, and it at least suggests the role nurses should play as patient advocates. Another piece, a sad story by a pharmacist who was criminally prosecuted for a deadly error, also shows that physicians are not the only health professionals whose work matters. One of the physician pieces is by Johns Hopkins's Peter Pronovost, a health care errors expert who has become well known for his efforts to promote the use of checklists and other safety measures. Pronovost makes a point, as he often does, to include nursing empowerment as a key element of reform. And a sidebar with short descriptions of some new patient safety ideas includes one about Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, where "WalkRounds" are done by "senior executives," a category that reportedly includes the chief nursing officer! Some publications would have mentioned only the CEO and the chief of medicine. Unfortunately, an essay by University of California San Francisco physician Robert Wachter indicates a distressing lack of awareness of the role nurses play in monitoring patient conditions and in hospital care generally, as the author attributes a failure to detect an impending pulmonary embolism 30 years ago solely to himself (as a second year medical student) and the hierarchy of physicians on duty. On the whole, though, Joe Kita's cover story includes nursing to an extent that is unusual for such an influential publication. We commend him and Reader's Digest. more...


The Truth's First Annual Conference: Empowering Nurses and Improving Care

French Quarter, New OrleansDecember 18, 2010 -- The Truth About Nursing is thrilled to announce that its first annual conference will be held in New Orleans the weekend of April 15-17, 2011, at the beautiful Marriott Renaissance Arts Hotel, located in the heart of this fabulous city! The conference theme is "Empowering Nurses and Improving Care Through Better Understanding of Nursing." Speakers will include Kathleen Bartholomew, Donna Cardillo, Sandy Summers, and a representative of Rutgers University's 2012 Project, who will tell us how to get more nurses into politics! Other topics include enhancing public understanding of nursing through the media, educating decision-makers and physician colleagues about nursing, effective strategies to improve working relationships, and practical steps toward achieving nursing empowerment. This work is critical in helping the nursing profession get the respect and resources that it deserves and that patients need. Registration will open soon, and continuing education credits are anticipated. Exciting events include a welcome cocktail reception and a Riverboat Jazz Dinner Cruise on the Mississippi. Come enjoy the food and culture of the Crescent City as you explore how to move nursing forward! Get details here...


Don't be lazy

Baby trapped in carAugust 2, 2010 -- Recent news items illustrate the important contributions family nurse practitioners make in preventing and diagnosing deadly health problems. On June 13, the Houston Chronicle ran a "Sunday Q&A" feature by Cindy George in which University of Texas nursing professor Elda Ramirez gives advice on how to cope with the very hot days that region experiences. Ramirez clearly has knowledge, but she also displays an ability to convey practical health information to lay people in a direct, engaging way that is one of the hallmarks of NP practice. And today, the University of Central Florida's Today site posted an article by KJ Lewis about Arden Monroe-Obermeit, who appeared as a morgue technician on the Discovery Channel reality show Dr. G: Medical Examiner. Monroe-Obermeit was about to graduate from the university with a nursing degree, and to enter its Doctor of Nursing Practice program so she could help people avoid ending up in the morgue because of preventable conditions. The article reports that Monroe-Obermeit's new career path was inspired partly by an NP who diagnosed her Cushings disease when many physicians could not. We thank those responsible for these helpful pieces, which look past stereotypes and recognize nursing expertise. more...


Truth About Nursing and Saving Lives media appearances 

Nursing Times publishes Truth leaders' piece on the battle-axe

December 3, 2010 -- Today, the prominent U.K. nursing publication The Nursing Times published "Battle axes and frustrated shrews," the eighth in the series of online pieces by Truth executive director Sandy Summers and senior advisor Harry Jacobs Summers.


Get involved!

Get involved in helping us change how the world thinks about nursing. Check out our action page or start a chapter of the Truth in your home town. Or join us on Facebook!


Planning speakers? Let Sandy Summers empower your nurses!

Sandy SummersMedia 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.


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!


The Truth About Nursing is an international non-profit organization based in Baltimore that seeks to help the public understand the central role nurses play in health care. The Truth promotes more accurate media portrayals of nurses and greater use of nurses as expert sources. The group is led by Sandy Summers, co-author of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk.

Thank you for supporting the Truth About Nursing's work!

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Founder and 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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