News on Nursing in the Media
March 14, 2010 -- Recently the Truth's campaign to persuade Mariah Carey to reconsider her use of naughty nurse imagery in the video for "Up Out My Face" has received coverage in the Hartford Courant, the Baltimore Sun, the India Times, the Calgary Herald, ADVANCE for Nurses, Scrubs Magazine, HCPro, the Dallas Morning News, and other news sources. Unfortunately, there has still been no response from Ms. Carey herself. However, the pop star's "lambs" (fans) have learned of the campaign and responded in force. They have argued that the video is just a harmless fantasy, that nurses' business is solely caring for patients at the bedside, that the Truth is just seeking "publicity" (which evidently differs from raising awareness), and that we have no right to criticize Carey's work, because she is successful, powerful, talented, and beyond our limited understanding. However, research shows that even fantasies and "jokes" can have a real effect on how people think and act, especially when repeated countless times in all media worldwide over a period of decades, as the naughty nurse has been. By relentlessly associating the profession of nursing with female sexuality, the naughty nurse makes it harder for real nurses to get the respect and resources they need to save lives, and discourages many advanced students from choosing the profession, as recent research shows. more... or go straight to our letter-writing campaign or post your own comment to respond to those of Carey's fans. Thank you!
December 26, 2009 -- Today the New York Times published a very long article by Anemona Hartocollis about sedation of dying patients, as part of the paper's "Months to Live" series. The piece had lots of important information about the difficult choices and practices involved in end-of-life care. Unfortunately, although nurses provide the vast majority of the professional health care that dying patients receive and have great expertise in that care, only one nurse is quoted in this 4,800-word piece. And although that nurse does get to briefly convey some knowledge and authority, she is not being consulted as an expert in palliative care; the reporter simply observed the nurse having interesting interactions with two patients' families. None of the other scattered references to nurses give any indication that they play a central, autonomous role in end-of-life care, nor that nurses have been at the forefront of efforts to provide dying patients with adequate pain relief and some control over their last days of life. Instead, the article is dominated by physicians, with 11 different physicians named or quoted, sometimes at length, and numerous statements about what "doctors" think or do presented as pretty much the only things worth discussing with regard to the ethical issues surrounding end-of-life care. We urge the Times and Ms. Hartocollis to re-examine their assumptions, and to try to give readers a more accurate picture of health care areas, like this one, in which nurses play critical roles. more...
November 18, 2009 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's Mercy featured nurse characters acting with considerable expertise and some autonomy to improve patients' outcomes in two very different cases. In one plotline, lead character Veronica Callahan provides critical physiological care to a gunshot victim who appears certain to die, working as more or less a partner with the physicians and at a couple points coming up with good treatment ideas to help save the patient's life. In the other plotline, nurse Sonia Jimenez advocates forcefully for a 15-year-old with a "rare excessive autosomal condition" who, though she has lived her life as a female, turns out to be genetically male. Sonia tries to protect this teenager from her parents, who pressure her to have surgery to eliminate her emerging male features, and from some physicians who seem to see her as no more than a fascinating case study, with no regard for the huge impact the diagnosis is having on her. There are a few questionable elements in these plotlines. The interventionist approach that Veronica and one physician take in the gunshot case could be interpreted as an argument for heroic measures for every patient. Of course, real nurses often see terminal patients face unnecessary suffering and work hard to encourage decision-makers to consider allowing a natural death in that situation. Nevertheless, the episode presents a prime time vision of nurses as strong, skilled health professionals, and we thank those responsible. The episode, "I'm Not That Kind Of Girl," was written by Veronica Becker and Sarah Kucserka.
Keep Mercy on the air! If you value the generally helpful depictions of nursing skill and autonomy that Mercy provides to more than 6 million viewers every week--the kind of depictions that no other regular season show offers--then please watch the show, urge your friends to watch it, and tell NBC to renew it for a second season. Mercy's ratings in the critical viewing demographic are not high, and renewal is questionable at best. If Mercy goes away, regular season television programming for nursing will be very, very bleak (think House, Grey's Anatomy, and Private Practice). Also, Mercy is actually a pretty good show, with some fine writing and acting. Thanks. more...
December 11, 2009 -- A Florida company called MensMax recently issued a press release boasting that its new "naughty nurse" online ad was boosting sales of "RestoreMax," which the company says is "the first ever penis skin care cream." The company said that its YouTube posting of the "sexy nurse" video had already gotten more than 150,000 hits. In the release, Michael Dugan, president of Redu, Inc. (which seems to own MensMax and markets other skin care products), said that he had tried the "serious" marketing approach using "doctors and health care professionals." But he said the "naughty nurse" is "funny" and "delivers exactly the same message...in a way men can enjoy and relax with." The press release also reported that the company was creating a naughty nurse ad "that can be cleared on regular television." Great. In the online video, the attractive young "nurse" claims to be a "professional," and she is certainly articulate in explaining the product's virtues to a gowned male patient--she's doing patient education! But her very short white dress, her leering, flirtatious manner, her enthusiastic application of the product to the male patient, and her suggestion that the patient can "get some" by taking her to dinner leave a little something to be desired. Naughty nurse imagery like this may generate profits, but it also reinforces a damaging stereotype of nurses as sexually available (if not sexually aggressive), and it undermines real nurses' claims to adequate resources for clinical practice and education. more...and please join our letter-writing campaign!
March 12, 2010 -- Today Medscape ran a long, powerful article by Laura Stokowski headlined "A Letter to Hollywood: Nurses Are Not Handmaidens." The article features very good explanations of the common myths about nursing that Hollywood promotes, as well as information about what nurses really do to help patients. The piece also includes detailed discussion of the Truth's work, particularly our media awards for 2009 and for the past decade, and extensive quotes from Truth executive director Sandy Summers. We thank Ms. Stokowski for this impressive and helpful article. see the article...
February 15, 2010 -- The Fayetteville Observer covered media images of nursing in an article by Jessica De Vault, "With shows such as 'Hawthorne' and 'Nurse Jackie,' is nursing now considered trendy?" The piece includes a brief but good discussion of the Truth's work and our "best" and "worst" awards for 2009 and for the past decade.
January 2010 -- In this month's issue, District of Columbia Nurse reprinted an op-ed by Truth executive director Sandy Summers that was originally published in Kaiser Health News entitled "Health Care Reform Won’t Work Without Strengthening the Role of Nursing."
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
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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