News on Nursing in the Media
February 28, 2012 -- Tonight, as the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks played the New Jersey Nets, the Mavericks Dancers entertained the crowd and a large television audience at half-time by dressing in naughty nurse outfits and doing a sexually-oriented dance to the tune of Robert Palmer's "Bad Case of Loving You." Unfortunately, the tired but persistent naughty nurse stereotype in this dance undermines real nurses' claims to the resources and respect they need to save lives. We urge the Mavericks to avoid future use of naughty nurse imagery, and to make amends for the damage caused, perhaps with a donation to a Dallas area nursing school. more... or go straight to our letter-writing campaign!
November 21, 2011 -- A year after The Dr. Oz Show featured naughty "nurses" dancing with Oz to promote exercise, the popular U.S. daytime program today offered what may have been an effort to make amends. In a 20-minute segment called "NURSES' SECRETS That Can Save Your Life," Oz paid tribute to nurses' knowledge. And the many nurses who appeared did convey something of nursing expertise, especially the articulate, poised career guru Donna Cardillo, who gave a capsule summary of the roles of modern nurses and the need for adequate staffing, and the nurse midwife Paula Jean Greer, who offered tips on reducing pain during certain procedures and how to use cabbage for home wound care. The nurses were admirably diverse and they all had something valuable to offer. At times Oz did seem to be humoring them a bit, but in general he conveyed a genuine respect for their health insights and a desire to learn from them. At the end, Oz even told the audience that he had learned much of what he knew in medicine from nurses! The segment was marred somewhat by the constant, condescending "secrets" approach, which presented nurses less as college-educated professionals than as a group of low-skilled helpers who had hung around health care settings long enough to have picked up basic tips 'n' tricks, some of which might strike viewers as pretty minor and hardly "life-saving." Aside from Cardillo's general summary, there was little about the advanced assessments and interventions that nurses make every day, and there was no real discussion of nursing education or advanced practice nursing. The segment seemed to be based in part on the November 2011 Reader's Digest cover story "50 Secrets Nurses Won't Tell You." Some of the secrets in the two items overlap, such as a questionable one suggesting that nurses are skeptical about all patients' accounts of their use of things like alcohol and tobacco. Today's Oz segment may have been in part a reaction to the Truth's early 2011 campaign about the show's dancing "nurse" segment, which received global press coverage. In any case, the Oz segment was vastly superior to Dr. Phil's deeply flawed effort to make up for its host's 2004 nurse-as-gold-digger comments, which conveyed almost nothing of nursing expertise. We thank Oz, the producers, and the nurses who played a part in the show. more...
March 2, 2012 -- In CBS's new drama A Gifted Man, elite New York neurosurgeon Michael Holt resides atop a pyramid of health expertise, gazing down with some contempt at all the other physicians and even less worthy non-physicians, whose knowledge seems to be merely a small subset of his. The show focuses on the visits Holt receives from the ghost of his recently deceased physician ex-wife, who pushes him to keep afloat the local poverty health clinic that she ran while alive. Holt is a self-absorbed anti-spiritualist who alienates people, but the show presents his skills as fully justifying his over-the-top arrogance; he compares himself to peerless soccer legend Lionel Messi (September 23, 2011 episode). Other characters stand in awe -- one anesthesiologist assures a patient that Holt is not as great as everyone says, he's even better! (October 7) -- and we are expected to take it all at face value. Needless to say, in a world in which even other physicians are treated as inadequate sidekicks, nurses will barely register at all. Holt's boutique neurosurgery facility seems to be staffed solely by swaggering physicians, quivering techs, and high-tech machines, including the advanced HEPA filter that supposedly prevents all infections by itself (October 7).Of course, there is Holt's no-nonsense assistant Rita, who at one point reminds him that she "used to" be a nurse (September 30), apparently before she moved up to the key job of managing Holt's schedule. Holt keeps forgetting her nursing background, evidently because that is irrelevant to the serious health care he provides. The poor clinic, meanwhile, seems to be run by physicians, a social worker, and administrative staff; occasionally, apparent nurses (or just their forearms) will appear to hold something or hand something to physicians. And with physician characters providing all meaningful care, there are many examples of physician nursing and suggestions that health care consists solely of what physicians do. One of the executive producers is Neal Baer, a physician who also worked on NBC's ER. Tonight A Gifted Man aired its season finale, which may also be the series finale, but if the show does return, we urge producers to convey some of the central role that nurses actually play in health care. more...
March 16, 2012 -- "The 2012 Project, a national, non-partisan campaign to increase the number of women in Congress ...will explain why it is essential for women to throw their hats in the ring in 2012. A Tuesday March 27, 2012 webinar (1:00-2:00 pm EST) will highlight the experiences and insights of two 2012 Project faculty members who will share what it takes to be a candidate, the difference women make in government, and why it is important for more women (like you!) to run. Filing deadlines have not yet passed in many states, so it's not too late!" Sign up for the meeting now!
March 16, 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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