News on Nursing in the Media
January 6, 2013 – Today the Richmond (VA) CBS television affiliate WTVR (Channel 6) ran a short segment in which CVS Minute Clinic nurse practitioner Anne Pohnert debunked common myths about the flu in a friendly exchange with one of the channel's news anchors. The channel conveyed respect for Pohnert as a health expert, identifying her as a nurse practitioner. And Pohnert came off as professional and articulate, explaining in a direct, clear way that you can't get the flu from the flu shot, that there are no serious side effects from the shot, that it's important to get the vaccine every year, and that it's not too late to get the shot this year, particularly since the early incidence of flu suggests it will be a bad year for the disease. The short text matching the online video adds a fifth myth, namely that "natural immunity or living a healthy lifestyle is better than getting immunity from the flu shot"; we assume there was no time to discuss that one on the air. (Speaking of living a healthy lifestyle, recall that the Heart Attack Grill's first spokesman died of the flu at age 29. He weighed 575 pounds.) Pohnert's appearance is remarkable not just because it represents an appearance by a nurse as a health expert on broadcast television--still a rarity even on local affiliates--but because the station makes a point of mentioning that Pohnert practices at CVS Minute Clinics. In the early days of quick clinics, the major players almost seemed to apologize for staffing their clinics with NPs. But the explicit references to CVS here suggest that the company may now actually be promoting its clinics through the expertise of their nurse practitioners, at least in this case. We commend WTVR for this segment. more...
August 5, 2012 -- Today a New York Daily News piece (based on one in the Dawn (Pakistan)) reported that research showed Pakistani hospitals had made little progress in reducing the violence and sexual abuse that nurses suffer, despite a 2010 law aimed at curbing sexual harassment of women in the workplace. The short article was based mostly on two recent studies conducted by instructors at Karachi nursing schools. A survey by Shanila Jalaluddin of the Liaquat College of Nursing reportedly found that more than 31 percent of nurses at three Karachi hospitals had experienced "physical violence, and verbal and sexual harassment" in the preceding year, but only three percent reported the incidents, because they "feared retaliation and lack of support." Similarly, a study of Karachi hospitals by Rozina Somani of the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery found that nurses tended to suffer violence and bullying at public hospitals, while verbal abuse "dominated" at private hospitals. According to that study, the perpetrators of the violence were patients, families, and other staff. But the incidents were "under-reported due to fear, shame and guilt." The Daily News commendably names both lead researchers, although the report does not explore possible reasons for the abuse or the atmosphere of impunity, such as gender bias and the low level of respect for nurses in particular. Even so, we thank those responsible for this troubling piece, which suggests that abuse of hospital nurses is common and that the nurses reasonably believe reporting it would result only in retaliation against the nurses themselves. more...
August 14, 2012 -- Today the New Zealand Herald ran a fairly good report by Hayden Donnell about a new Massey University study that found high rates of serious "moral distress" among Kiwi nurses. The study of more than 400 nurses nationwide found that 48 percent had considered leaving a job, and 16 percent were considering leaving their current job, because of issues "beyond their control." These included delivering poor care because of management pressure to cut costs; doing things that "unnecessarily prolonged the dying process"; and carrying out "physician's orders" for what the nurses believed were unnecessary treatments and tests. The use of the word "orders" in this context is always unfortunate since it wrongly suggests that nurses report to physicians and must do whatever they want. In fact, nurses are ethically bound to decline to carry out physician prescriptions if the nurses believe they are not in a patient's interest. Of course physicians do (wrongly) have more power, so this is a factor in the distress under consideration. On the upside, the piece quotes lead researcher Martin Woods, identifying him as "a nursing ethics and education expert," though oddly not as the lead researcher. It does refer to him as "Dr. Woods," and we hope that readers will understand that refers to his PhD in nursing rather than a medical doctorate. In any case, Dr. Woods explains that some nurses consider leaving not just one job but the entire profession, and he does a good job of emphasizing the gravity of the findings, which can lead to "depression, burnout and stress." The piece rightly (if minimally) notes that "results were similar to overseas studies." The article might have benefited from a little more detail on that, as well as from some information about the causes of and potential solutions to the nurses' moral distress. On the whole, though, the piece provides a helpful look at serious issues in New Zealand nursing today. more...
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Truth executive director Sandy Summers will deliver the keynote speech at the 27th Annual Wisconsin Nurses Association Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Forum Pharmacology & Clinical Update, to be held at the Monona Terrace and Convention Center in Madison. Sandy will speak on the morning of Friday, May 3, 2013. See you there!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Founder and Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
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Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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