News on Nursing in the Media
May 28, 2010 -- Today the Dunedin (New Zealand) Channel 9 web site reported that the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is urging the public to celebrate World Smokefree Day, May 31, 2010. The short piece quotes NZNO spokesperson Kerri Nuku as noting that health professionals should be involved in the project because they (in the piece's words) "deal with the consequences of tobacco use every day, including the negative effects on patients' physical and mental health, as well as their social, economic and cultural wellbeing." The item notes that smoking kills 5,000 New Zealanders every year. We thank Channel 9 for the report. And we applaud the NZNO for its patient advocacy, which not only improves the health of the community, but also presents nurses as knowledgeable, committed health professionals deserving of resources and respect. more...
February 2010 -- Press reports about the January 12 earthquake in Haiti continued to appear in the months that followed, describing the effects and the continuing health risks as health workers and patients struggled to cope with a devastated health infrastructure. We saw one fairly good New York Times article, described below, but most of these reports followed the standard physician-centric disaster reporting model we already described in analyzing samples of CNN's work. The reports gave the sense that physicians did everything important in the wake of the tragedy and that only physicians' health care views matter. An excellent example is Deborah's Sontag's February 12 piece in The New York Times, "Doctors Haunted by Patients They Couldn't Save," which explores the psychological effects on U.S. physicians who undertook short aid missions to Haiti following the quake. The report is dominated by four physicians and fails almost totally to consider the roles or views of the nurses and others who worked alongside these physicians. The piece notes in passing that one nurse helped a physician with one patient. And there are a couple quotes from a paramedic about the status of a 12-year-old patient, but she's only there to help the reporter update a pediatrician who treated the boy when she was in Haiti. One week before Sontag's piece, Ian Urbina filed a very different Times report about the impact on health workers, "Haiti Hospital's Fight Against TB Falls to One Man." That article tells the story of Pierre-Louis Monfort, a nurse at Haiti's only tuberculosis hospital. After the structure had collapsed and everyone else had died or fled, Monfort was trying to carry on the work of the facility's 50 nurses and 20 physicians by himself. The Times piece conveys some of what Monfort was doing for patients, and the psychic effects on him. The piece also consults "experts," both physicians, who discuss the disaster looming if TB spreads unchecked in a nation where the rate was already very high. Anyway, we commend Urbina and the Times for highlighting the experience of one tough, resourceful nurse in Haiti. more...
May 30, 2010 -- In late June, a group of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing faculty and students including Truth board member Kelly Bower Joffe will go to Haiti to provide nursing care to children and pregnant women. They'll partner with the Haitian Health Foundation, which has worked in Jeremie, Haiti, since the 1980's. Since the January earthquake, Jeremie has received more than 100,000 displaced persons from Port-au-Prince. The Hopkins group will provide care including screenings, vaccinations, monitoring child growth, pre- and post-natal care, and health education. They are now raising funds for supplies, vitamin supplements, educational materials, translators, and the cost of travel to remote villages. Please help with a tax-deductible contribution (by check or online) to the Hopkins nursing school's Haiti Community Health Nursing project. Thank you for helping the people of Haiti through nursing! more...
A review of the 2009 film Precious
Claireece "Precious" Jones is a 16-year-old with 99 problems. The Harlem resident is trapped in a domestic hell with her violent, undermining mother. She endures abuse from peers for her obesity. And she's pregnant as a result of being raped by her own father. Into this nightmare the film introduces a few rays of light from committed agents of the welfare state: a persistent guidance counselor who arranges for Precious to attend an alternative school, a no-nonsense social worker (whose worn tenacity is ably conveyed by the versatile Mariah Carey), and the beautiful, committed teacher Blu Rain, who patiently cajoles Precious onto a path toward a high school diploma and some control over her life. And there is "Nurse John," a nurse's aide at the hospital where Precious gives birth, who shows her compassion and generosity, and even suggests that she ease up on that McDonald's diet. As played by rock star Lenny Kravitz, John is a somewhat stern but upright and sexy straight man, and this is not lost on the uninhibited females from Precious's class who visit her in the hospital. Hollywood has not offered many strong, straight male nurse characters, and to the extent moviegoers see this portrayal as an indication that it's cool to be a "man in nursing," it is helpful. But "Nurse John" is not a nurse at all, even though he calls himself that. Blurring the distinction between registered nurses and minimally trained nurse's aides makes it harder for nurses to show that they are highly skilled, autonomous health professionals. In addition, the film's portrait of Blu Rain is somewhat idealized, and Precious's voiceover at times over-explains things. Still, with clever direction and some great writing and acting, Precious finds insight, nuance, and humor in what might sound like a hysterical vision of ghetto life. Precious won't give up while there is still some hope, and those who help her are skilled, pragmatic dreamers who see it as their professional obligation to make sure she doesn't. In that way, the film does have something like a nursing perspective. With that and a few years of college-level health science training, John can be a nurse! more...and see the nurse-related film clips!
March 16, 2010 -- Today the Daily Mail (UK) ran an unsigned item about a West Midlands bus company that was using a large naughty nurse ad, with the clever tag line "Ooooh matron!," to promote its route to the hospital. Nursing representatives and National Health Service officials asked the Diamond Bus Company to pull the ad, arguing that it trivialized and sexualized the profession, making it more difficult for real nurses to do their work. But the company refused, noting that it needed to create a "bright and positive brand" and that the ad had been "vetted" by a "group of nurses" who agreed it was "funny." However, something can be "funny" and at the same time promote a harmful stereotype. These aren't just jokes about some random profession; they're about a disempowered profession that has been the subject of the same bimbo stereotype for decades. The image really does undermine the profession's standing among career seekers and others, as recent research in the UK has shown. Please help those in the corporate world understand that the image of nursing matters as much as the need for a "bright and positive brand," and that in any case there are ways to promote services without the naughty nurse. more...
May 18, 2010 -- Today Scrubs Magazine posted a short piece by Jennifer Fink about Richard Prince's recent nurse paintings, which are based on images of nurses from mid-20th Century pulp novels. Fink quotes analysis by Truth executive director Sandy Summers, who notes that although many nurses object to the paintings, their images of nurses in regressive clothes, masked and surrounded by blood and menace, can be seen as an insightful comment on the plight of nurses and women generally. see the article...
April 2010 -- In this month's issue, the Institute for Nursing Newsletter of the New Jersey State Nurses Association 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." see the article...
May 30, 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.
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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.
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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
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Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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