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News on Nursing in the Media

Haiti volunteer ideaTeams of seven

Consider forming teams of seven nurses each at your institution. If six nurses work an extra 12-hour shift every other week and donate that income to a seventh nurse, the seventh nurse can afford to volunteer in Haiti and the institution should come out even in terms of staffing. Ask human resources personnel at your institution to consider these and other ways to help Haiti. more... and please donate cash, frequent flyer miles or volunteer. Thank you!


The Orb of Life

Orb of LifeDecember 1, 2009 -- Today the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) ran a very good article by Patti Singer about the work of University of Rochester nursing scholar Martin Schiavenato to develop an "orb" that uses artificial intelligence to measure pain in premature infants. Schiavenato and his team are developing ways to measure vital signs and movements, then translate them into colors so clinicians can determine and treat the conditions of vulnerable infants, for whom pain may have life-long developmental effects. The report includes quotes from Schiavenato, who used to practice in the NICU, and from two other nursing scholars. It notes that the orb could have far-reaching implications, potentially giving us new ways to assess pain in older patients, including those with disabilities, dementia, or language barriers, and those in comas. We commend Singer and the Democrat and Chronicle for a helpful report on this vital nursing research. more...


Saving Lives named a 2009 AJN Book of the Year

January 2010 -- Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk has been named a Book of the Year, one of the "most valuable texts of 2009," by the American Journal of Nursing. As announced in this month's issue of the leading journal, Saving Lives was one of the books chosen in the Public Interest and Creative Works category. Judge Karen Roush noted that Saving Lives "provides readers with specific ideas on how to influence the media that could result in a more accurate perception of nursing that improves health care for everyone." She also praised the book's "in-depth comprehensive coverage of the issue" and "clear, well-organized writing." The Truth congratulates all of the book award winners, and thanks Ms. Roush and AJN. See the full awards...


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Vitamin F

Terri on GleeOctober 7, 2009 -- Tonight's episode of Fox's new dramedy Glee included a plotline in which a character with no health training gets a job as a school nurse. The show's lead character, Will, is a high school glee club director. His wife Terri works at a retail store, but she becomes the school nurse to keep an eye on Will, whom she suspects is having an affair with a guidance counselor. Terri gives the fatigued glee club kids pseudoephedrine to keep them alert, assuring them it's OK because, after all, it's just an over-the-counter drug! For that she eventually gets fired, and the episode stresses that Terri is not a real nurse, so viewers will understand that her misdeeds should not be imputed to real nurses. The show is somewhat absurdist, bending reality to suit its comic ends. But this episode suggests that nursing itself is kind of a joke, since a useless conniver like Terri can waltz into a school nurse job by telling the principal that she has first aid training and once used the "defibulator." Even Glee would never suggest she could get a physician job that way. In fact, real school nurses must generally have bachelor of science degrees in nursing; their training is not just an optional extra, as the show implies. In a cool twist, the evil cheerleading coach who helps Terri gain entry to the nurse position by putting the former school nurse in a coma is played by Jane Lynch, who also played "Nurse 'Doctor' Poole," one of the worst battle-axes in television history, in ABC's 2002 drama MDs. This episode of Glee, "Vitamin D," drew 7.3 million U.S. viewers, and it was written by show creator Ryan Murphy, who also created FX's physician-centric nip/tuck. more...


Love and Commerce

September 11, 2009 -- Today NBC's Today Show aired a segment with the title "The Perils of Midwifery," though it later changed the title of the online version to "The Perils of Home Births." The "Today Investigates" segment, introduced by Matt Lauer, was mainly a pre-recorded report by NBC's Peter Alexander. The unbalanced piece used the tragic experience of one couple whose baby died in a home birth setting, including emotional footage from interviews with the grieving parents, to question the safety of home births and midwives generally. Would NBC find one sad obstetrician outcome and run a report titled "The Perils of Obstetricians?" The report also suggested that the apparent trend toward home births is a "hedonistic" one driven by a misplaced desire to emulate celebrities like Ricki Lake, who produced the documentary The Business of Being Born. NBC did include elements that ran counter to its main theme, briefly describing the arguments of home birth advocates and offering a short look at the good home birth experience of another couple. But the report also featured a series of unanswered attacks on home births and midwives, and the ostensible effort at balance just made the attacks all the more persuasive. Perhaps most glaring, the report did not offer a single quote by any midwife expert or midwifery association to defend midwife care, but instead relied heavily on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as if physicians were the only real health experts, even about the care of other health professionals with whom they compete. The report ignored the data showing that other developed nations achieve better outcomes at lower costs with less interventionist, midwife-centered birth models. It ignored the research showing that the care of nurse midwives is at least as good as that of physicians. And it ignored the overall safety record of the veteran nurse midwife involved, Cara Muhlhahn. Unsurprisingly, the month after the Today report aired, the couple whose baby died, Catherine and Ricardo McKenzie, filed a malpractice lawsuit against Muhlhahn. The suit itself earned a lot of press coverage, featuring multiple quotes from the couple's malpractice attorney. We urge the Today Show to provide fair and balanced reporting on advanced practice nursing. more...


Press Coverage about the Truth About Nursing and Saving Lives

The Baltimore Sun -- On January 7, 2010, Baltimore Sun health reporter Kelly Brewington posted "TV nurses -- the good and the bad," a good discussion of the Truth's 2009 and 00s decade awards for best and worst media portrayals of nurses. Over the next week, the piece was reprinted in NewsDay, the Chicago Tribune, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Hartford Courant, the Deseret News (Utah), the Times Colonist (Victoria, Canada), the Charleston Gazette, (WV) and the Island Packet (SC). Scrubs magazine also posted a short comment about the awards lists, linking to the Sun piece. We thank Kelly Brewington and the Sun, as well as all who reprinted or commented on the Sun item.

The Post-Standard -- On January 14, 2010, Amber Smith of the Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY) posted a lengthy item on the paper's Health & Fitness Blog about the Truth's awards lists, "Nurses rate TV's best and worse nurses." Using Kelly Brewington's Baltimore Sun piece as a starting point, Smith examined the lists in much more detail, with quotations from the Truth's awards language. We thank Smith and the Post-Standard.

American Journal of Nursing -- In the January 2010 issue of the American Journal of Nursing, editor-in-chief Shawn Kennedy's editorial credited the "relentless" advocacy of the Truth for helping to change the approach of Hollywood to nursing. In her piece "A New Year Brings New Opportunities," Ms. Kennedy pointed to the Truth's advocacy in noting that the characters in the new nurse-focused U.S. television shows are "big improvements" over their counterparts in most earlier shows. We thank Ms. Kennedy and AJN for this recognition. See p. 7 of the issue.

Evolve -- On January 6, 2010, Cheryl Mee posted an extensive discussion of the nursing image, "Nursing's Image in the Media: Just in Jest", on the Evolve learning system site. Mee included substantial discussion of the Truth's work. On January 14, Evolve published a short discussion of the Truth's Decade awards, "Best and Worst Nursing Portrayals of the Last Decade." We thank Cheryl Mee and the others at Evolve.


See The Truth About Nursing Decade Awards for 2000-2009


Get involved by 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!

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See more information on Saving Lives.


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
Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1099
fax 1-410-510-1790

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