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News on Nursing in the Media


Lucky Charms: Johnson & Johnson's new nurse TV ads

New York Daily News: Patients unattended

Documentary maker seeks psychiatric facility and nurses for new film

Does the Media Really Matter? Truth presentation for Gannett and Walden University now available online

Come see Sandy Summers speak about the nursing image this fall!


Lucky Charms

Lucky CharmsJune 2011 -- Recently the drug company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) released a new batch of television advertisements as part of its Campaign for Nursing's Future, which began in 2002 as an effort to address the nursing shortage. The three new 30-second ads, like those released in 2005 and 2007, highlight different aspects of nursing practice and do a good job at promoting diversity. Each of the new ads also conveys something helpful about nursing skill. Unfortunately, each ad focuses mainly on the emotional support nurses give patients, and each concludes with the vaguely uplifting message "NURSES HEAL." One ad features an authoritative ED nurse reacting quickly to a trauma case, but even that ad is dominated by the nurse's returning of a lucky charm to the patient. And the other two ads will strike viewers as being mostly about hand-holding, by a hospice nurse and a pediatric nurse. Thus, despite some positive elements, each ad subtly reinforces the enduring image of nurses as low-skilled angels. The nursing crisis did not happen because people forgot that nurses hold hands. What decision-makers need to know is that nurses are autonomous life-saving professionals who need respect and resources, and in this regard the new ads are actually a step backwards from the 2007 ones. The new ads do at least omit the baby-soft voiceover and sappy music, which undermined the prior ads' good elements with vapid lyrics about how nurses "dare to care." The new ads are also more subtle about promoting J&J itself, though that cuts both ways; it distracts viewers less from the good and bad aspects of the ads. In any case, we thank J&J for its continued efforts to promote nursing, and we urge the company to focus more closely on telling the public that nurses are health experts who save lives. more...


Patients unattended

backstabbing the whistleblowerMarch 28, 2011 -- Today the New York Daily News ran a good piece by Alison Gendar about a New York City ED nurse who says she tried without success to get her colleagues at Roosevelt Hospital to treat a homeless man who was later found dead outside the hospital, and that she was then fired for trying to expose what happened. Nurse Danna Novak has sued the hospital, alleging that as a triage nurse in August 2009, she determined that the wheelchair-bound patient Daniel Iverson showed signs of a suicide attempt, not least of which was his claim that he had taken a lot of morphine. However, Novak says two other nurses argued that Iverson was faking and would have to wait. He was apparently an alcoholic who often visited the ED to complain of back pain or sleep off a bender. Iverson left the hospital and was found dead outside the next day, the victim of what an autopsy showed was an overdose of morphine and alcohol. The article is a sad look at the way urban EDs sometimes work, but it also shows readers that nurses can and must make complex, life-and-death assessments, and it suggests that nursing errors can have grave consequences. And of course, the piece also points up the vital role that nurses play as advocates and whistleblowers. Nurses are the skilled health professionals who spend the most time with patients, and they are probably the most likely to see when a patient is at serious risk. Needless to say, nurses should not be ignored, abused, or fired for trying to perform their vital role as patient advocates. The Daily News does not provide all this context, but it does offer readers a powerful example of the life-saving -- or life-losing -- potential of nursing care. more...


Documentary maker seeks psychiatric facility and nurses for new film

June 30, 2011 -- A successful U.S. documentary maker recently reached out to the Truth to help him find a major psychiatric facility, and the expert nurses who practice there, to profile in a new film. Here's part of his note to us:

I'm currently researching a documentary that ... would profile some of the staff (nurses obviously a big part of this) and patients at a psychiatric facility. The concept would be somewhat analogous to documentaries you may have seen focusing on an emergency room following the patient from the point of admission when they're in crisis, to becoming stabilized, to being treated and finally to being released. Obviously the process is very different in a psych facility but the basic story arc would be the same. In addition we'd be interested in ancillary elements ranging from following patients after their release, seeing staff doing community and other off-site work, etc. The possibilities are wide ranging and would all shine a very positive light on the facility. The underlying goals would be to advocate for good treatment and remove stigmas attached to mental illness. If you have any contacts in this arena, a major public or private facility in a medium to large sized city that might be interested, I'd love to speak with them.

Please let us know as soon as possible if this is something that would be a good fit for your institution. In your message, please include the name and a description of your workplace, how you think this would work for the documentary, and a short description of your expertise. Thanks very much! Please email us at


Does the Media Really Matter? Truth presentation for Gannett and Walden University now available online

June 23, 2011 -- Today Truth executive director Sandy Summers did an online presentation for the Gannett nursing publications Nursing Spectrum, NurseWeek, and entitled "How the Media Portrays Nurses: Does it Really Matter?" The presentation offered CEUs courtesy of Walden University, and it is now available online -- check it out and earn free CEUs!

Come see Sandy Summers speak about the nursing image this fall!

Spain, November 2011
Keynote Speaker

XV International Research Nursing Conference
Encuentro Internacional de Investigación en Enfermería

          Madrid, Spain  
          November 16, 2011

New Mexico, October 2011
Keynote Speaker

University of New Mexico Hospital Nursing Research Conference
          Albuquerque, New Mexico   
          October 28, 2011, 8 am
          contact: Adrienne Fugett

Minnesota, October, 2011

Minnesota Nurses Association meeting, 2nd District
          Duluth, Minnesota   
          October 1, 2011, morning
          contact: Rosemary Dahl

St. Louis, September 2011

Maryville University Sigma Theta Tau meeting
          St. Louis, Missouri   
          September 15, 2011, evening
          contact: Shawn Pohlman


Saving Lives paperback coverSaving Lives on sale for $10!
Help others understand nursing!

June 30, 2011 -- The 2010 edition of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk paperback now sells for $10 from Amazon or Barnes & Noble in paperback or nookbook! The 2010 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 paperback 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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book cover, Saving lives

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