News on Nursing in the Media
December 2011 -- Over the past year, news items from around the world have shown nurses speaking out on important health issues and getting good coverage in the media. On February 24, the Wicked Local Sharon (Massachusetts) website posted "Sharon nurses lead no-tan pledge," a good report by Paula Vogler about a high school nurse and town nurse who are (together with the Melanoma Foundation) urging local students to pledge not to get tans, so they can avoid skin cancer. On August 7, USA Today ran a very good piece on the importance of asking questions about hospice options by Kelly Kennedy, who relied entirely on a hospice nurse and a Wisconsin nursing professor for expert comment. On November 25, the Harrow Times (UK) ran a helpful article by Suruchi Sharma about local hospital nurses who had organized a "mouth cancer exhibition" in order to help the local Asian community get "clued up" about the health risks posed by tobacco products. And on December 5, the Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia) published a good piece by Stephen Drill reporting that nurses in Victoria were protesting apparent plans to reduce nurse-to-patient ratios, which the nurses said would lead to an increase in antibiotic-resistant and potentially deadly "superbugs." These short press reports don't just give readers health information that could save their lives. They also show the public that nurses can be strong, knowledgeable health professionals. We thank those responsible for the pieces. more...
March 11, 2011 -- Today the Herald-Mail (Hagerstown, Maryland) ran a generally helpful piece by Tiffany Arnold about veteran local nurse Linda Altizer, whose diverse career includes her current work as a "forensic investigator" as well as occasional trips to do development work overseas for the "medical missionary" group "Nurses Without Borders" (although the piece may mean the Georgia-based Christian charity Nurses for the Nations). The article focuses on Altizer's recent trip to rural Liberia, where she trained nurses and conducted malaria testing. The report also provides background about malaria, which affects hundreds of millions worldwide and is a particular threat to young children. The piece emphasizes the role that Christian faith plays in Altizer's work, though it manages to avoid the angel stereotype. It might have been good to hear more specifics about the teaching and malaria testing Altizer did, as well as her work in forensics. Still, the piece tells the public that nurses can use their skills to help society in a variety of important ways, from the cradle to the grave, and there is no suggestion here that physicians are directing nursing work. Indeed, the piece actually mentions that Altizer worked "alongside" her late husband, a physician, when they practiced at a local hospital. And we appreciate the names "Nurses Without Borders" and "Nurses for the Nations," since we assume those are more accurate descriptions of who is doing the actual work than "Doctors Without Borders," the name that group continues to use although nurses are the most numerous health professionals among its volunteers. We thank Ms. Arnold and the Herald-Mail for this article. more...
January 2012 -- This month many U.S. blogs have covered the recent introduction in Congress of the National Nurse Act of 2011, the latest version of the legislation conceived and relentlessly pursued by Oregon nurse Teri Mills to create an Office of the National Nurse. For example, on January 11, Brian Klepper posted a short piece on the blog "The Doctor Weighs In" that expresses support for the new bill. Dr. Klepper, whose doctorate is in speech, hearing, and language, reports that on December 15, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced the new bill (H.R. 3679). Klepper explains that the bill "would elevate the existing Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service to the National Nurse for Public Health, a new full time leadership position that can focus nationally on health promotion and disease prevention priorities." In explaining the basic idea behind the National Nurse, Klepper quotes from the op-ed Mills originally published in The New York Times in 2005 (see our analysis of that op-ed). The excerpt argues that nurses are trusted professionals with a preventative focus that could address some of the nation's most pressing health problems. Klepper endorses these ideas, noting that "physicians may drive care, but nurses are on the front line with patients delivering it," and he urges readers to contact their Representatives to express support for the bill. This is a helpful post, though the suggestion that physicians "drive" care while nurses "deliver" it misses the scope and importance of nurses' autonomous practice. Nurses do deliver care prescribed by physicians, but they also provide a range of expert nursing care that nurses drive themselves and that is independent of physicians.In fact, this care often requires nurses to advocate against physician prescriptions and care plans. In any case, we thank Klepper for his support of the National Nurse, which is a promising way to improve public health and understanding of the value of nursing. Learn more about the National Nurse campaign and click here to get involved! See the article...
January 30, 2012 -- The Truth About Nursing is planning our next conference for the summer of 2013. We are searching for a school of nursing or hospital that might be able to provide the space for our conference. We are also looking for volunteers to join our planning committee. If you would like to do either, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much!
January 2012 -- The Spanish channel Enfermería TV (Nursing Television) has covered the XV International Nursing Research Conference held in Madrid from November 16-18, 2011, where Truth executive director Sandy Summers gave the keynote address. Enfermería TV's coverage included a clip of Summers explaining that nurses "need to speak up more to the media about what they do, but the public needs to start looking at who is doing the work of protecting the patient, educating the patient," since nurses "are there to teach patients how to take care of themselves, how to prevent future illnesses." We thank Enfermería TV for its report. see the report...
January 5, 2012 -- Today NurseZone published a piece by Jennifer Larson, "Why Nursing is Still the Most Trusted Profession," that quoted Truth director Sandy Summers on the need to look behind the perennial Gallup poll finding that nurses are "trusted" and ask if that means the public really respects their professional skills. Summers cited the various nursing stereotypes that continue to dominate mainstream media about nursing; these images suggest that nurses are low-skilled losers who exist to serve physicians or act as sex objects. Summers encouraged nurses "to speak up about their professional responsibilities and really inform people about what they do on the job," and to join the Truth in working to increase public understanding of nursing. (See our action page!) For example, Summers suggested that nurses write op-eds, participate in “health minute” broadcasts on local television and radio programs, and let reporters shadow them at work for a day. "We shouldn't limit ourselves to just the patients before us," Summers said. "We should speak to the wider world." We thank NurseZone for including our ideas in the article.
January 30, 2012 -- 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 January 31, 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:
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.
January 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...
January 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.
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
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