The stuff of life: Watch Call the Midwife on PBS!
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The stuff of life: Watch Call the Midwife on PBS!

You just have to listen: the San Francisco Chronicle
      profiles UCSF Dean David Vlahov

Get free Truth posters and place them at your
      school or workplace!

See Sandy Summers speak to California school
      nurses in San Diego in February 2013

Can you donate $25 today to help support
      our work?

"Nursing: Isn't That Sweet?!" Join the thousands
      who have watched the Truth's short film

Nursing professors, in need of curriculum ideas?


The stuff of life

listening to the mother's bellyOctober 29, 2012 -- The remarkable new BBC series Call the Midwife, now airing in the United States on PBS, offers a dramatic look at the exploits of Anglican and lay nurse-midwives caring for poor women and babies in London's East End in the late 1950's. In the first three episodes, the series presents the midwives as skilled, autonomous health workers whose ability varies in accord with their relevant experience. Tough, expert senior midwives guide the nervous newer ones. In one early scene, after police try ineffectively to stop a raucous street fight between two women, one of the commanding senior midwives brings the altercation to a halt with one sharp question. The nurses visit pregnant women to monitor their progress, deliver the babies under awful conditions, and advise the new mothers, all in an environment without birth control where women seem to function as baby factories and one-person day care centers. One woman has 24 children. The midwives also provide community health services. Physicians do appear occasionally when their special skills are needed. But for the most part the focus is on the nurses who provide the vast majority of the care, and physicians are marginal, in what amounts to a reversal of the standard Hollywood model. Indeed, the show is remarkably free of stereotypes. It's not free of sentiment and generic uplift, some of the scenes are too pretty for the supposedly gritty setting, and central character Jenny Lee seems a bit unformed. The show is not quite on Nurse Jackie's level, and of course the setting differs greatly. But like Nurse Jackie, Call the Midwife is an often powerful, funny, and nuanced look at skilled nurses saving and improving lives in world whose concern for the health of the poor is open to question. Where Jackie offers regular critiques of the U.S. health care financing system, Call the Midwife includes advertisements for the U.K.'s National Health Service, which was new in the 1950's. Based on a memoir by midwife Jennifer Worth (nee Lee) and written by Heidi Thomas, the six-episode BBC series was a big ratings success in the U.K., and a second season is on order. In the United States, it seems to be doing well for a PBS show. We thank those responsible for Call the Midwife, and we urge all nurses to watch and support it. more...and see the film clips!


You just have to listen

David VlahovMarch 11, 2012 -- Today the San Francisco Chronicle ran a remarkably good profile of new University of California San Francisco nursing dean David Vlahov -- on the front page. Julian Guthrie's piece, which also includes several photos, explores Vlahov's life and his development as a nurse, from his childhood living with a disabled brother to his work as a prison clinician and a nursing professor, his time at the Centers for Disease Control, his founding of an AIDS clinic in East Baltimore, and his years on the New York City Board of Health. The piece notes that Vlahov is one of a small number of nursing deans who are men, and it reminds readers that there are relatively few men in nursing generally. So the article also discusses the challenges and opportunities men find in the profession. The piece gives Vlahov space to explain his experience and his goals as dean, which include revamping nursing career tracks and attracting more men to the field. The article might have done more to consult colleagues about their views of Vlahov's work, and it might have focused more on Vlahov's scholarship and his experience on Michael Bloomberg's board of health in New York City. But by showcasing this articulate nursing scholar, the piece tells readers that nurses can be health care leaders who advance public health. We thank Julian Guthrie and the Chronicle. more...


Place FREE Truth About Nursing posters at your school or workplace -- it's good fun and good for you!

I am your RN posterOctober 29, 2012 -- Tell colleagues and patients the truth! Our "I Am Your Registered Nurse" poster presents nurses as autonomous professionals on whom patients can rely. The poster explains that nurses are modern science professionals who protect and advocate for patients and empowers nurses to meet those challenges. Designed for the bedside, the poster comforts patients by educating them about the care environment and assuring them that nurses are there to fend for them.

Short dresses posterOr consider the Truth's "Can Short Dresses Cause Short Staffing?" poster. This one takes humorous aim at the naughty nurse image that continues to haunt advertisements and other media, especially those aimed at males. The poster connects the naughty nurse image with the broader undervaluation that leads to gross underfunding of nursing education, research, and practice, ultimately threatening patients.

We'll send you up to 20 posters free to hang at your school or workplace. Just email us at to tell us how many you'd like and where to send them. If you'd like more, they are just 50 cents each! 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!


Sandy SummersSee Sandy Summers speak to the California School Nurses Organization in San Diego in February 2013

Truth executive director Sandy Summers will deliver the keynote speech at the California School Nurses Organization's upcoming 63rd Annual Conference, to be held at San Diego's Town & Country Resort. Sandy will speak on Saturday, February 9, 2013. See you there!


Does anybody know what nurses really do?

The Truth's five-minute movie explores common stereotypes in a comical way!

Watch now!

Wendy and JimCheck out the Truth's 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 for Halloween 2011, 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!


curriculum planning difficultiesNursing professors, in need of curriculum ideas?

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...


Planning speakers? Let Sandy Summers empower your nurses!

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.


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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A Few Successes —
We Can Change the Media!

Educate the world that nurses save lives!

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