News on Nursing in the Media
July 22, 2010 -- Tonight ABC will air the fifth episode of Boston Med, the eight-part documentary about the work and personal lives of health care workers at Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women's, and Children's hospitals. Overall, Boston Med is almost as physician-centric as producer Terence Wrong's previous "greatest hospitals" efforts Hopkins 24/7 (2000) and Hopkins (2008), focusing overwhelmingly on physicians and generally presenting them as the brilliant providers of all meaningful health care. But the new series has received an amazingly positive reaction from some reviewers and even some nurses because, along with the 16 physicians and surgeons profiled in the four episodes that have aired so far, there is one nurse! In a few scenes, this MGH nurse, Amanda Grabowski, displays technical knowledge and gives viewers some sense of nurses' roles as patient advocates and autonomous practitioners. But as the episodes go on, the show steadily forgets her clinical work, focusing instead on her social life. This approach undermines the sense of her as a serious professional, and even flirts with the stereotype that nurses are mainly about romance. The episodes do portray the personal lives of some of the physicians, but the show also continues to focus on their work as esteemed health experts. The ABC web site suggests that there will be another MGH ED nurse profiled in at least the fifth episode, Mike O'Donnell; perhaps his segment will convey something of what it is to be a man in nursing. But it's unlikely the nurse elements will have much impact alongside what will likely be profiles of some 25 physicians, especially since those profiles utterly ignore the nurses who actually provide most of the skilled care to the patients portrayed. The overall message is that physicians, especially surgeons, are the life-savers who do everything that matters. Boston Med is probably a small step forward for Terence Wrong, since the nurse profiles here may be more substantial than the fleeting nurse appearances in Hopkins two years ago. But the new series could not be compared to a documentary like Richard Khan's Nursing Diaries (2004), or even a drama like Mercy (2009-10), which feature strong, sustained portrayals of nursing skill and care. more...
February 25, 2010 -- Recent news reports reveal that many nurses around the world confront high levels of abuse from patients and colleagues. On February 4, the OneIndia web site posted an unsigned item from ANI, the South Asian news agency, about an Australian study published in the U.K.-based Journal of Clinical Nursing that found not only that most nurses had been physically assaulted at work, but that many nurses considered violence to be "just part of the job." That short piece does a good job of conveying the magnitude of the problem and of highlighting nursing research, though it might have dug a little deeper about why nurses may view abuse that way, and it might have clarified that lead study author "Dr. Rose Chapman" is a nurse with a PhD, not a physician. Today, the News Chief (Winter Haven, FL) ran a longer Scripps Howard News Service report by Lee Bowman discussing recent studies suggesting that conflict among nurses and physicians is "rampant." The piece provides valuable information about the nature of such conflict and the growing awareness that it undermines patient care. But the report also implies that all concerned are more or less equally responsible, making no real effort to explore the power disparity between the two professions, which professions are more likely to suffer which forms of abuse, or whether aggression among nurses might be rooted in nursing's disempowered status. So readers are likely to come away thinking nurses and physicians confront a similar situation with regard to workplace abuse, an idea that is false and unhelpful, as problems are hard to solve if some of the root causes are ignored. Still, we thank those responsible for both of these important articles. more...
July 9, 2010 -- We have just had a productive conversation with Eli Holzman, the Executive Vice President of Studio Lambert, the production company that is planning to produce Cali Nurse. Mr. Holzman and his show colleagues received 78 emails (33 original--thank you!) from nurses and others concerned about the show in the two days since we launched our letter-writing campaign. He expressed concern about the stereotypes that plague nurses and vowed to try to avoid them in the show. He said that Cali Nurse is at least a year away from production, but that as work on it proceeds in the coming months, he will keep in mind all of the input he has received from us. He is also interested in reading our book Saving Lives, which explains these stereotypes, and we will send copies to his production team. (Thanks to those who have donated copies of the book so that we can send them to the media!) We also offered to provide advice to the show as it goes forward. Of course it is too soon to say what the ultimate result of all this will be, but we thank you so much for taking the time and effort to speak out about the potential pitfalls of the show. Your voices made the difference!
July 20, 2010 -- Today Truth About Nursing executive director Sandy Summers gave a guest lecture at George Washington University's School of Nursing in Washington, DC. We had a good 90-minute discussion about the media's portrayal of nursing and its effect on nursing practice. We also covered advocacy issues and discussed how nurses can empower themselves to improve relations with nursing managers and physician colleagues. Contact the Truth if you are interested in this kind of guest lecture!
Free Truth Guest Lecture Offer -- Limited Time!
Right now we are offering guest lectures by Sandy Summers by conference call, Webex, or other electronic means at no cost to any class that is discussing nursing's media image and using Saving Lives as one of its texts. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a dynamic and engaging guest presentation. Thank you!
July 22, 2010 -- Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk now available in paperback, with a new foreword by bestselling nurse author Echo Heron! This edition is revised and expanded, discussing Nurse Jackie and the other new nurse shows in detail, and featuring updated information throughout. You can get an author-signed copy of the book 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.
This affordably-priced paperback edition (under $12 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble) makes a great Nurses Day gift for colleagues, students, or even to help family and friends understand the value of what nurses do. All royalties for the award-winning book go directly to support non-profit nursing advocacy work. Thank you for your support!
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.
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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
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