News on Nursing in the Media
RWJF Nursing blog
February 2012 -- Late this month press entities around the world gleefully reported that a real Swedish hospital was seeking to hire "TV-series hot nurses," which allowed some of the media to embrace the naughty nurse while seeming to just be telling the story of a notable hospital recruiting tactic. Lee Moran's February 22 Daily Mail (UK) piece, for example, not only reported on the summer recruiting ad by South General Hospital, but also included an unrelated naughty nurse image (helpfully labeled "picture posed by model"), just to show curious readers what a "TV-series hot nurse" might look like. In response to the press attention, nurse managers at the Stockholm hospital stressed that they were just trying to "catch people's attention" -- mission accomplished! -- and that professional nursing qualifications were all that really mattered in their hiring. But this is a "joke" that has been repeated countless times worldwide for decades, and it is one that some of the media seems happy to amplify whenever there is an opportunity. The result is to reinforce the association of nursing with female sexuality that makes it harder for real nurses, like those at South General Hospital, to get the respect they need to do their work. We urge the hospital and the Daily Mail to find other ways to "catch people's attention." more...
November 1, 2011 -- Today The New York Times published a very good obituary for Joyce Clifford, who led the nursing staff at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital for 25 years. Clifford pioneered the application of the "primary nursing" care model, in which one nurse is mainly responsible for each patient during the course of the patient's stay, and she advocated what the Times describes as a "partnership of equals" between nurses and physicians. Clifford later founded the Institute for Nursing Healthcare Leadership. Paul Vitello's obituary does a fine job explaining the basic significance of Clifford's work in a limited space. And the piece relies on input from nursing scholars Linda Aiken of Penn and Margaret Grey of Yale, in addition to physician and former Beth Israel CEO Mitchell Rabkin and sociology professor Mary Beth Weinberg, whose 2003 book Code Green: Money-Driven Hospitals and the Dismantling of Nursing described the demise of primary nursing at Beth Israel following its 1999 merger with Deaconess Medical Center. Rabkin, a longtime Clifford supporter, notes that he realized on the first day of his internship that "the nurses knew a hell of a lot more than I did," a statement that is impossible to imagine coming from a physician character on any current Hollywood television show. The obituary makes clear that Clifford had a masters degree in nursing and a doctorate in health planning, referring to her as "Dr. Clifford" throughout. We thank Vitello and the Times for this tribute to an innovative and influential nursing leader. more...
July 10, 2011 -- Recent press items in newspapers large and small have addressed the prospect of nursing careers, shedding light on how far society has -- and has not -- come in its perceptions about the profession. On March 28, the Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC) ran "Scouts zero in on nursing," a good report by Jennifer Swartz about Scout Out Nursing, an interactive program to introduce Scouts to careers in nursing. The program is led by Gina Woody at East Carolina University's College of Nursing in collaboration with the Beta Nu chapter of the nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau. (See a video of the program narrated by Gina Woody). And today, the Sydney Morning Herald published Daniel Lane's "Star nurses new ambitions," which describes Australian Olympic swimmer Alice Mills's training to be a nurse, a career she plans to resume pursuing after the 2012 London Olympics. These two pieces look at nursing careers from different angles, but both touch on the unfortunate gap between the public's understanding of the work, particularly as embodied in popular television shows, and the reality of nursing, which is a demanding profession that requires years of university training but enables practitioners to save and improve lives a wide variety of exciting settings. The Herald report is especially powerful in showing how far "television soap operas" are from conveying the reality of the demanding nursing profession, but the Reflector item has good elements as well, notably 11-year-old Scout Bobbie Kochlin's observation that she is drawn to trauma nursing because it "saves people's lives." We thank all those responsible for these pieces. more...
April 2012 -- This month's issue of the widely read More magazine includes Jessica Testa's article "A Real Nurse Rates the TV Fakes." The piece features extensive quotes by Truth director Sandy Summers--the "real nurse" of the headline--about Nurse Jackie, House, Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. We thank Jessica Testa and More for including our thoughts on Hollywood's portrayal of nursing.
March 28, 2012 -- Today Allison Stevens posted an item on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Human Capital blog, "Who's Your Favorite Fictional Nurse Character?", that featured analysis of Nurse Jackie by the Truth's director. We thank Allison Stevens and RWJF.
April 30, 2012 -- 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!
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...
April 30, 2012 -- The electronic version of 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 hardback and paperback editions of Saving Lives are currently sold out as we are in a transition to a new publisher. All royalties for the multiple award-winning book go directly to support our nursing advocacy work. Thank you!
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
Founder and Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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