News on Nursing in the Media
August 2013 -- In recent months ConAgra Foods has been running video ads for its "jerky snack" Slim Jim that feature a self-identified "murse" distributing the product in a hospital waiting room to men suffering from different forms of "male spice loss." That malady is the subject of a broader ad campaign ostensibly aimed at helping men who have chosen to forego accepted macho pursuits in favor of weird, vaguely feminine activities like yoga and matching outfits. That is, the ad campaign is aimed at selling jerky to young males who might actually fear such an absence of traditional maleness. For nursing, the ad is surprisingly complex. The term "murse," used at least as early as 2003 on the sitcom Scrubs, is basically a cute contraction of "male nurse." And like that term, it may imply that men in nursing are not simply "nurses," but something else, questionable both as nurses and as men. On the other hand, we know that some men in nursing don't object to "murse" and may even use it themselves. Anyway, the Slim Jim nurse in this ad is not exactly displaying great health care expertise. And when he notes that "it's my job to distribute Slim Jims to patients suffering from male spice loss," there may be an implication that he's just doing what someone else told him to. But on the whole, the ad is laughing with the nurse, not at him. He projects traditional masculinity, with his authoritative voice and military fatigue pants. And he says and does things viewers are supposed to be amused by, mocking the "patients" by publicly labeling them (e.g., "tantric yoga guy") and throwing their prescribed snacks to them (naturally, they can't catch). The nurse also uses relatively large, clinical-sounding words, suggesting some level of education. We wondered if men in nursing were being singled out, but traditionally male health care figures play similar roles in other ads in the company's "spice loss" campaign (see ads featuring physicians and first responders). The idea seems to be simply that men help men be men. And so, despite the "murse" term and the gender-role intolerance in the ad, it may actually be a small step toward normalizing the idea of men in nursing with some of the ad's target audience. We're not suggesting anyone thank ConAgra, but it's food for thought. more...
January 11, 2013 -- Today Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) aired a report by Laura Yuen about sexual abuse of runaway girls that featured St. Paul nurse practitioner Laurel Edinburgh (right), who helped start an intervention program for the girls. And the MPR website also offers a substantial interview with Edinburgh about her work. Broadcast as part of National Public Radio's All Things Considered program, the main report describes efforts by police, prosecutors, advocates, and nurses to address the problem of sexual exploitation of runaway girls, with a focus on the police who search for missing children. The report spends significant time with Edinburgh, explaining that the nurse practitioner "helped create the beginnings" of the Ramsey County Runaway Intervention Program a decade ago, that her research has shown that the program improves outcomes, and that advocates hope the program can serve as a model for the rest of the state. The piece also notes that Edinburgh devised a set of questions that St. Paul police use to screen runaways for signs of physical and sexual abuse. The interview allows Edinburgh to provide more detail about the runaway problem, how the Program started, and how it might be expanded. We thank Laura Yuen and Minnesota Public Radio for this report, which presents Edinburgh as an innovative and expert health care leader. more...
January 11, 2013 -- Today the New York Times ran a front-page story by Abby Goodnough about Martha Keochareon, a retired Massachusetts nurse who, while dying at home of pancreatic cancer, invited students from her nursing alma mater to come study her. The piece focuses more on the drama surrounding Keochareon's death and the real-world experience Keochareon offered the students than it does on the importance of nursing skills. Commendably, the report does quote two nurses with expertise in end-of-life care, one from Holyoke Community College (the alma matter) and another from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). But the report fails to specifically identify either one as a nurse. The piece does offer readers a basic sense of what nurses do and how they are educated, with references to college courses and clinical training. In particular, the article briefly highlights how nurses are educated in palliative care, describing an AACN program designed to do that. And the piece refers to the challenges nurses may face in providing adequate pain relief to those who are dying. In fact, even conveying that nurses are educated in colleges at all can seem like an achievement for the elite media, particularly in view of the handmaiden vision that still prevails in many Hollywood products. We thank Abby Goodnough and the New York Times for this prominent and generally helpful story. more...
See Sandy deliver the keynote speech at the Annual Conference of the Registered Nurses Association in Michigan (RN-AIM) to be held in Traverse City, Michigan. Sandy will speak on the morning of September 26, 2013. Hope to see you there!
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! All honoraria go directly to support the Truth's operations. When you invite Sandy to speak, you make the Truth's work possible since honoraria are our biggest source of funding. Thank you! Click here for more details.
Our book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk is available again! If you donate now, we will send you a copy. Saving Lives continues to influence nurses, the media, and members of the public around the world. You can also get the paperback from Amazon. Saving Lives is also available in digital form through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iTunes. Saving Lives has won an American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award and an award from the international nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau. Many nursing professors use the book as a text to discuss nursing in society. You can get a free copy--hard copy or digital--with every $30 donation to the Truth About Nursing!
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.
Or 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.
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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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