The beck and call girls: Private Practice ends
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News on Nursing in the Media

Stephanie KempHeadlines

The beck and call girls:
     Private Practice ends as it began, with
     physicians in command and nurses
     standing by, awaiting orders

     New York Times and the Atlantic on
     APRN skill and autonomy

Press coverage:
     Health Callings posts interview with
     Sandy Summers on the nursing image

See Sandy Summers speak to the
      Registered Nurses Association of
      Michigan on September 26

Saving Lives is back in print! Get a copy with every $30 donation!

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

Can you donate today to help support our work?


The beck and call girlsnurse mouse

January 22, 2013 -- Several recent episodes of ABC's Private Practice, including tonight's series finale, had a few scenes with strong, smart, articulate labor and delivery nurse Stephanie Kemp. And actress Justina Machado, who seems to have made nurse TV characters a career specialty, brought her usual dignity and likability to the role. We appreciate this rare effort by show creator Shonda Rhimes and the other producers to suggest that nurses are not necessarily idiots and that they can be skilled members of the health care team. However, it could also be argued that the Stephanie character was a last-minute Band-Aid on the gaping wound caused by the show's overall portrayal of nursing during its six-year run. Stephanie's skills appeared to consist almost entirely of anticipating physician needs and acting as an assistant to physicians; she displayed little autonomy and rarely interacted with patients. In this sense, she was not unlike the show's now-deceased Dell Parker character, a nurse midwife who often functioned more as an office manager or receptionist than a health professional. At the same time, the other nurses in these recent episodes were even more extreme versions of the show's usual handmaidens, coming off as clueless and/or terrified mice, meekly obeying physician commands and performing the kind of "wallpaper nurse" tasks seen on Hollywood shows like Grey's Anatomy, House, and ER for decades. By contrast, Stephanie was even worthy of a relationship with hunky heart surgeon Sam Bennett. But that romance followed the same trajectory as nurse-physician relationships on show creator Shonda Rhimes's earlier show Grey's Anatomy. For example, in 2008, Grey's surgeon Derek Shepherd's relationship with nurse Rose ended when he returned to surgeon Meredith Grey, and in 2011, Grey's nurse Eli's relationship with surgeon Miranda Bailey ended with her returning to an ex-flame anesthesiologist (who has since become a surgeon; on Grey's, even non-surgeon physicians are unworthy!). Here, Sam ultimately left Stephanie to return to his ex-wife Naomi, a physician fertility specialist. It seems that a few unusually skilled and feisty nurses deserve some basic respect. But let's not get carried away. On Private Practice, it's a physician's world, and the nurses just live in it. see the full review and film clips from relevant episodes...



Physician groups fighting APRNsOctober 24, 2012 -- In recent months a number of commentators have issued pleas for the United States to expand the authority and scope of practice of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), which studies show would improve health care and rein in costs, contrary to the claims of some opposing physician groups. Two of these pieces are Tina Rosenberg's excellent article "The Family Doctor, Minus the M.D.", posted today on The New York Times website as part of the paper's "Fixes" series, and physician John Rowe's generally good May 7 post on The Atlantic website, "Why Nurses Need More Authority." Rosenberg's Times piece makes clear that clinics run by nurse practitioners (NPs) provide primary care that is at least as good as physician-run clinics. She cites NP credentials and the research showing how good their care is, and she explains why the nursing practice model is so effective. Rowe's item still betrays some condescension and a mistaken belief that APRNs are suited only for "routine" care and unqualified for more difficult diagnostic and care management tasks. But both items argue forcefully that expanding APRN practice would improve access to care and likely reduce health care costs. Both note that organized medicine opposes these measures, claiming wrongly that APRN care is inferior. And both pieces suggest that the physician groups' opposition appears to be driven more by concerns about lost income and authority than by any well-founded concern for patients. We thank those responsible for these pieces and all who wish to base important health policy decisions on facts rather than fear or bias. more...


Press coverage

Health Callings publishes interview with Truth director on nursing's media image

May 6, 2013 -- Today the health care website Health Callings published a substantial interview with Truth About Nursing director Sandy Summers. In the interview, Summers discussed poor portrayals of nursing in the media and what nurses can do to improve them.


See Sandy Summers speak to the Registered Nurses Association of Michigan in September

Truth executive director Sandy Summers will 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!


Saving Lives is back in print!

Saving Lives paperback coverOur 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!


Place Truth About Nursing posters at your school or workplace

I am your RN poster 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.

For every dollar that you donate, we'll send you up to 4 posters to hang at your school or workplace. Just email us at to tell us how many you'd like and where to send them. 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!


Planning speakers? Let Sandy Summers empower your nurses!

Sandy SummersMedia 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 donate nowPlease 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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