"Instrumental and often overshadowed"
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Desperate Housewives: "Seriously? Male nurse."

Instrumental and often overshadowed:
      Ronald Reagan's nurses on the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt

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"Seriously? Male nurse."

Gaby and Rehab nurseDecember 4, 2011 -- In tonight's episode of ABC's Desperate Housewives, major character Gaby tried to get past access restrictions at the rehabilitation facility where her husband was a resident by flirting with a male nurse, but she failed when the man simply pointed to his chest and said, "Male nurse"--meaning that he was of course gay and so not interested in Gaby. The nurse was articulate and sympathetic, but he did nothing a lay person could not do, and the first thing he did when Gaby approached was to complain that she was keeping him from reading The Help. That might have been an early hint about his sexual orientation, but it also suggests that nurses are just attendants who enforce minor rules and have time to sit around reading novels. Unfortunately, past episodes of Desperate Housewives have also reinforced nursing stereotypes. In an October 2007 show, Gaby donned naughty nurse attire as a cover to rub lotion on her husband, to covertly heal a case of the crabs she had given him. And in an April 2008 episode, the show presented a hospital nurse as a mousy, pathetic physician lackey who could be bribed into revealing sensitive patient information with free lunch at a French bistro, and who had time to leave the hospital mid-shift to eat that lunch. In tonight's episode, the show has told viewers that all men in nursing are gay, which undermines efforts to increase diversity in the profession. It almost seems like the show is on a mission to reinforce every major nursing stereotype, but if so it had better hurry up--this is its final year, and there are still some big ones that it has not yet exploited for a cheap laugh, notably the angel, the battleaxe, and the wannabe physician! We urge Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and the other producers to make amends for the damage they've caused and to try to avoid nursing stereotypes in the future. This episode, "Putting It Together," was written by Sheila R. Lawrence. more...


Instrumental and often overshadowed

Reagan shotApril 2011 -- Some recent press items about the 30th anniversary of the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan have, surprisingly, highlighted the key role nurses played in the care Reagan received in the days following the Washington, DC shooting. On March 28, the Washington Post ran a substantial article with the excellent headline, "30 years later, nurses recall their role in saving Reagan's life." The piece, written by Del Quentin Wilbur based on his recent book about the shooting, starts off by emphasizing the hand-holding and "hovering" aspects of the care by the nurses who treated Reagan at George Washington University Hospital. But perhaps because the writer took such a close look at the shooting for his book, the piece goes on to reveal some of the specific, substantive things the nurses did to help save Reagan's life, like skilled monitoring, placing IVs, and education and psychosocial care of the gravely wounded president. And on April 8, the Saratogian (Saratoga Springs, NY) ran an article by Glenn Griffith about local bookstore owner and former GW nurse Robyn Ringler, who also cared for Reagan. That piece is more about Ringler's work since the 1999 Columbine shootings to support gun control efforts, including a recent press DC conference at which she appeared alongside James Brady and other prominent advocates. The report does not convey much nursing skill beyond the fact that Ringler understood that Reagan almost died, nor does the piece link Ringler's advocacy directly to her nursing. But it does at least present a nurse who is a strong advocate; indeed, the best element here is probably the headline: "Nurse to a president fights gun violence." We thank those responsible for both pieces, but particularly the Post's Wilbur, who clearly set out to draw attention to the pivotal role nurses played in Reagan's care. more...


Submit your creative non-fiction about nursing!

non-fictionDecember 28, 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] creativenonfiction.org. Submissions must be postmarked by January 31, 2012.



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