The talk of the town: nursing in The New Yorker
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a pestThe talk of the town: nursing in The New Yorker

Heart Attack Grill: Successful protest in Las Vegas November 12!

Submit your creative nonfiction!

"Nursing: Isn't That Sweet?!" Join the thousands who have watched the Truth's new short film

Nursing professors, in need of curriculum ideas?

Saving Lives on sale for $7


The talk of the town

The New YorkerDecember 2011 -- Items appearing in the The New Yorker over the past year offer amazingly varied portraits of nursing. They range from John Colapinto's relatively good December 2010 portrait of the powerful Duchenne muscular dystrophy advocate and nurse Pat Furlong ("Mother Courage"), on the one hand, to physician Jerome Groopman's October 2011 article about the NICU ("A Child in Time"), which reflects the writer's physician-dominated vision of health care. A short letter printed in late November in response to Groopman's NICU piece offers a more holistic vision, describing a mother's appreciation of the breastfeeding and kangaroo care initiatives her child received in the NICU. Another notable item is Ian Frazier's fair, if somewhat bemused, April 2011 "Talk of the Town" piece about a Brooklyn event held by Caribbean-American nurses to celebrate the achievements of Mary Seacole ("Two Nurses"). And a full-page University of Phoenix ad in the same issue presents a real nurse as a leading health expert and executive. But business writer Ken Auletta's October 2011 "annals of communication" piece about Jill Abramson's ascendancy to the editorship of The New York Times includes a brief description of the extensive health care Abramson received after a bad vehicle accident that suggests that only physicians played any role. All in all, The New Yorker remains fairly typical of the elite media when it comes to nursing. The magazine is certainly capable of providing its influential readership with helpful and accurate information about the role nurses play in health care, especially in shorter, less prominent items like the "Talk of the Town" piece and the mother's letter in response to Groopman. But it's more likely to ignore or condescend to nursing in "serious" articles about health care or other matters, especially when the magazine relies on physician contributors or experts. We urge the New Yorker's editors to think carefully about whether the work of the magazine's writers reflects the real nature of nursing. more...

The ends and the means: John Colapinto on Duchenne advocate Pat Furlong

Pat FurlongJohn Colapinto's piece "Mother Courage" about Duchenne advocate Pat Furlong ran in the magazine's 2010 year-end issue (December 20 and 27). The piece explains that Furlong is "a health educator and a former nurse" whose sons Patrick and Christopher developed Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a "rapid, fatal muscle-wasting disease that affects males almost exclusively." Furlong fought for years to increase attention and research funding for the relatively rare disease, continuing even after both her sons had died. The piece presents Furlong more as a fierce and extraordinarily effective parent activist in the Lorenzo's Oil tradition than a health expert (thus the title "Mother Courage"). Other nurses have had a major impact on health care, but it's hard to imagine a New Yorker piece about any of them as nurses. Still, the Furlong piece does link her success to her nursing background at a few points, and the overall portrait of her as a smart, ruthlessly resourceful health leader (who acts like Nurse Jackie at some points) clearly has value. more...

DiasporaThe nursing diaspora: Ian Frazier checks out a tribute to Mary Seacole

Ian Frazier's short "Talk of the Town" item, which appeared in the April 25, 2011 issue, was headlined "Bedside Manner:  Two Nurses." The two nurses in question are Mary Seacole and Florence Nightingale. But the piece is really about Seacole, and a recent Women's History Month tribute to her held at St. Francis College in Brooklyn by the Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora. more...

Diane Wilson adTomorrow's health care leaders: University of Phoenix ad upstages magazine content

Later in the same (April 25) issue, a surprisingly helpful full-page ad for the University of Phoenix appears. The ad shows a woman in a business suit looking upward and the headline: "Offering a faculty of industry professionals to inspire tomorrow's health care leaders." This woman is identified at the bottom of the page as "Diane Wilson, MSN/MHA, College of Nursing, Chief Operating Officer, Community Tissue Services." more...

Groopman on NICU nurses: Swaddling, handing, sitting, walking, placing candles, helping, and letting

Jerome GroopmanThe October 24, 2011 issue includes "A Child in Time: New frontiers in treating premature babies," a "medical dispatch" by regular New Yorker contributor and Harvard physician Jerome Groopman. The piece focuses on decisions to treat or not treat NICU patients. Groopman presents a typically physician-centric vision of health care, with physician work dominant and only physicians consulted as experts (along with one social worker, briefly). No nurses are even named. This is especially striking in the NICU context, where highly skilled nurses play a leading role. more... 

Times not changing enough: Surgeons administered Jill Abramson's blood transfusions

rolloverIn the same October 2011 issue as Groopman's NICU article, business writer Ken Auletta has an "annals of communication" piece titled "Changing Times:  Jill Abramson takes charge of the Gray Lady." The article describes Abramson's recent ascendancy to the editorship of the New York Times. She is the paper's first female editor. One anecdote, included to demonstrate Abramson's resiliency, is about injuries she suffered after a truck knocked her down and rolled over her in the street, crushing her foot, snapping her femur, breaking her pelvis, and causing "extensive internal injuries." more...

Take Action! Write to the authors of these articles to let them know how you think about them. Click here for contact info. Thank you!


Heart Attack Grill: Successful protest in Las Vegas November 12!

RD imageNovember 12, 2011 -- Today the Truth's Las Vegas chapter held a peaceful rally in front of the new Las Vegas Heart Attack Grill to protest the anti-health restaurant's naughty nurse waitress outfits. A group of nearly 20 nurses, nursing students, and even a respiratory therapist joined forces to hand out hundreds of flyers to Grill customers and passersby. Thank you to our chapter leader Dee Riley, RN, MSN, who teaches at Nevada State College, for organizing the successful rally! Since the Grill first opened in Arizona in 2006, it has been failing and re-opening at new locations. And from the beginning, we have pursued a campaign to persuade the restaurant to stop with the naughty nurse costumes already. Although we have yet to convince the Grill to do the right thing, we have generated global press coverage about why the naughty nurse image undermines the nursing profession's claims to the respect and resources it needs to save lives. See more information on the protest on our Las Vegas chapter page. Please click here for Dee's email address and send her a note of congratulations. Thank you!


Submit your creative non-fiction about nursing!

non-fictionDecember 13, 2011 -- The well-regarded magazine Creative Nonfiction wants you to submit an essay for an upcoming issue! We encourage everyone to consider submitting, especially those with compelling narratives outside of traditional direct care settings, since it is not clear from the magazine's request for submissions if it is aware of the full range of settings in which nurses practice. The requested length is 2,500 to 5,000 words, and the deadline is the end of January 2012. Here is the notice from Creative Nonfiction:

Creative Nonfiction is seeking essays by and about nurses for a new collection, Becoming a Nurse: Real Stories of Nurses, Their Lives and Their Patients. We're looking for stories from a variety of viewpoints.

What motivates nurses to enter, and to stay in, this demanding profession, and how are their daily lives affected by ongoing changes in the healthcare system? Becoming a Nurse will present readers with the world of health from the perspective of nurses in hospitals, in-home care programs, long-term care facilities, hospices, and the armed forces as they tell stories that recall and recreate the most salient moments of their careers.

We are looking for writers who can write dramatically and vividly about this profession for a collection of essays, which will be published by Creative Nonfiction. Essays can be from 2,500-5,000 words but should be written in a narrative form, with scenes, description, vivid characters and a distinctive voice. To submit, please send your manuscript to:

Creative Nonfiction
Attn: Becoming a Nurse
5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Please include a word count on the first page of the essay, as well as your contact information and an self addressed stamped envelope or email address for response. Any additional questions can be directed to information [at] Submissions must be postmarked by January 31, 2012.


Does anybody know what nurses really do?

The Truth's new five-minute movie explores common stereotypes in a comical way!

Watch now!

Wendy and JimDecember 13, 2011 -- Check out the Truth's new movie "Nursing: Isn't That Sweet?!" It's all about what happens when nurse Wendy encounters her old high school classmate Jim at a restaurant, many years later--after the two have taken their lives in very different directions! Can Wendy and Jim make a new connection? Or will things get a little ugly? Made using xtranormal software just in time for Halloween, the short video explores some chilling stereotypes that still infect public understanding of nursing. And for a different take on nursing stereotypes, check out the Truth's classic 2005 report "Nursing: Who Knew?" about a groundbreaking study in which leading researchers discover nurses' real contributions for the first time! See the video!


curriculum planning difficultiesNursing professors, in need of curriculum ideas?

Many nursing professors rely on the extensive and varied materials on the Truth's website to help their students engage with critical issues nurses will face in the future, from their public image to key aspects of nursing education, practice, and advocacy. Since 2001, we have explored and analyzed how the global media and society in general has seen the nursing profession. Join your colleagues and use this material to help plan your curriculum! See the full list...


Saving Lives paperback coverSaving Lives on sale for $7!
Help others understand nursing!

December 13, 2011 -- The paperback edition of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk now sells for $7 from Kindle! The B&N Nook and Apple iBook are also available for $10. The paperback 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 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 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!


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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