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News on Nursing in the Media

school nurse early 1900sHeadlines:

What goes up

"Nurse Jackie" returns for final season

Little voices

Why every school needs a full-time registered nurse

From experts to stooges

Better late than never:
The 2013 Truth About Nursing Awards

The bedpan ceiling

Scholar Linda Shields explains nursing on ABC

Take Action!

Pretty vacant

Hedley is crazy for a naughty nurse

Disruptive innovation

Create street art with Truth posters!

See Sandy Summers live this spring!

Truth's founder and executive director speaks in Pittsburgh and Chicago soon!

Saving Lives

Order a copy of the updated second edition today!

Planning speakers?

Book Sandy Summers to empower your nurses!


What goes up

"Nurse Jackie" returns for final season

Zoe Nurse JackieApril 5, 2015 - On April 12, one week from now, Nurse Jackie will return for its seventh and final season on Showtime. Over the years, the critically respected show has given its global audience perhaps the strongest depiction of a modern nurse in the history of series television. New York emergency department (ED) nurse Jackie Peyton is expert, fearless, savvy, sensitive, and creative, with a wide array of psychosocial skills. She has even been a great mentor to Zoey Barkow, the gifted protegee who has emerged from Jackie's shadow and may now be poised to assume Jackie's central role in the ED and/or to become a nurse practitioner. That transition may have accelerated because, as many real nurses have complained, on a personal level Jackie is a train wreck. She is a "world class liar" who has struggled with addiction since the beginning, and never more so than at the end of the sixth season. At that point she finally seemed to have alienated almost everyone in her life, and possibly blown the one key relationship she had always managed to preserve--her relationship with nursing. She even made a serious clinical error as a result of her drug use, something the show has not shown enough. Zoey saved the patient. Many real nurses have never been able to get past Jackie's personal flaws. But none of those flaws is a nursing stereotype, and we have always felt that Jackie is a persuasively complex mix of great talents and frailties, as some humans are. Had she been perfect, we would not even be talking about a second season, much less a seventh one. We ourselves have objected to the show's occasional suggestions that hospital nurses report to physicians in the clinical setting, despite the presence of nurse Gloria Akalitus, who seems to have some administrative responsibility for the ED. In any event, we thank those responsible for what the show did well for nursing, especially producers Lix Brixius, Linda Wallem, Caryn Mandabach, Richie Jackson, and Brad Carpenter; nurse advisor Jennifer Cady, RN, BSN; and actors Edie Falco and Merritt Wever. See Nurse Jackie on the Showtime site or our review page...


Little voices

Why every school needs a full-time registered nurse

school nurse 1903May 19, 2014 -- Over the past year, news items have continued to highlight the importance of school nurses to the health and education of U.S. children, often with a focus on reversing the widespread staffing cuts that threaten students. On August 20, 2013, the Associated Press put out a good general overview by Carolyn Thompson. That piece gave readers a sense of how school nurses help ensure that the next generation is healthy enough to learn. It discussed the independence required of school nurses and the great range of duties involved, including annual health screenings, counseling and mental health services, and chronic care for conditions like diabetes and ADHD, ending with a note about pending federal legislation that would help schools get closer to safe nurse-to-student ratios. On October 18, 2013, Salon published a long, powerful piece by Jeff Bryant about cuts in school nurse staffing. In particular, Bryant pointed to the death of Philadelphia 6th-grader Laporshia Massey from an asthma attack, a tragic event that is hardly an outlier. Bryant argued forcefully that the prevailing political environment has often meant a short-sighted focus on adding security guards at the expense of health and social services, resulting in the criminalization of relatively minor student misconduct. And today, Reuters ran an excellent report by Genevra Pittman on a new study in JAMA Pediatrics by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control finding that a Massachusetts program placing RNs in schools had "more than paid for itself by averting medical costs and lost work for parents and teachers." The study authors noted that the actual savings were likely much greater, since averted emergency department visits and hospital admissions were not considered. We thank all those responsible for these pieces, which provide more compelling arguments for ensuring that all schools have nurses available to protect the nation's children. more...


golden lampFrom experts to stooges

Better late than never:
The 2013 Truth About Nursing Awards

The Truth About Nursing announces our 11th annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses! The year 2013 featured the BBC/PBS television series Call the Midwife, with its skilled, autonomous nurses caring for the poor in 1950's London. Other highlights included an excellent New York Times column with expert advice on cancer from nurse Julia Bucher; news reports showcasing U.K. nursing innovations; pieces on the importance of beleaguered U.S. school nurses; another season of Showtime's Nurse Jackie with strong elements; and even a fine episode of NBC's Parks & Recreation, in which nurse Ann Perkins persuaded a difficult colleague to make a lifestyle change! On the downside, many popular Hollywood television shows presented a dismal vision of nursing to viewers around the world. Notable examples included ABC's Grey's Anatomy, with its brilliant surgeons doing everything important and its nurses virtually nothing of interest; Fox's The Mindy Project, with its quirky but skilled OB-GYN physicians and their three stooge-nurses; A&E's The Glades, with its wannabe-physician nurse character; damaging episodes of ABC's Modern Family and Fox's Glee; and of course, MTV's notorious travel nurse reality show Scrubbing In, which reinforced unskilled and naughty nurse stereotypes but also sparked a huge, partially successful protest by nurses in Canada and the U.S. Despite all the problems, we thank those responsible for the best media and encourage others to keep trying. See the full awards!


The bedpan ceiling
Laurel Edinburgh

Scholar Linda Shields explains nursing on ABC

February 17, 2014 -- Today Rebecca McLaren published a remarkable article about public understanding of nursing on the website of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Capricornia radio station in Central Queensland. "The bedpan ceiling" seems to be based entirely on input from James Cook University nursing professor Linda Shields (right); the long piece is mostly a series of quotes from her. Shields says that nursing may seem simple to the public, but in fact it is complicated, challenging, and important. She notes that the profession involves decision-making about subtle changes in patient conditions, increasingly complex technology and drug and treatment regimens, and much sicker patient populations than it did years ago, when hospital stays were far longer. Therefore, Shields argues strongly that nursing requires extensive university science education and that calls to return the profession to the days of hospital-based training must be resisted. She assures readers that those were not in fact "good old days," offering scary anecdotes about overcrowding and fatally poor care. Shields also decries the current trend toward reliance on cheaper but low-skilled health care assistants who do not report to nurses and who cannot do the life-saving work nurses do. And she concludes with a brief discussion of nursing stereotypes, including the physician handmaiden and the naughty nurse. Shields focuses on gender stereotyping, arguing that it's vital to attract more men to the profession. We thank Professor Shields and all those responsible for this helpful article. more...

Take Action!

film strip Crazy for YouPretty vacant

Hedley is crazy for a naughty nurse

April 2015 -- The video for the Canadian pop band Hedley's new song "Crazy for You" features an oddly restrained naughty nurse character. "Crazy for You" is on the album Wild Life, although the tune's safe, unremarkable dance-pop might be better described as Mild Life. The song uses insanity as a metaphor for love, which may have been done once or twice before. By itself, the song says nothing about nursing. But the equally clichéd video features the band members as inmates in a prison-like mental health institution, complete with sexy female jailers. These staffers include an attractive young "nurse" who first appears giving out pills to the inmates through their cell doors. She wears a very short white dress, white stockings, high heels, and nurse's cap; the dress has a very low-cut back but a big red cross on the front, with no cleavage visible. After the nurse arrives at the cell of Hedley lead singer Jacob Hoggard and sees how awesome he is, she simply opens the door to his cell. That seems to lead to a magical "jailbreak," with the band and jailer-babes running around with no obvious destination for the rest of the video. The nurse character reappears at the very end, walking away arm in arm with Hoggard. Overall she is pretty tame and even seems a little vacuous. At least her demeanor mostly neutralizes the ghost of Nurse Ratched that might otherwise haunt the video, with its theme of sexually-tinged female oppression in a mental health institution. But any naughty nurse image reinforces the association of nursing and female sexuality that has long undermined the profession. And it's hard to be crazy about that. We urge Hedley to withdraw or edit the video and to make amends to the nursing profession for the damage done. read more...and please sign our petition!


Disruptive Innovation

Create some street art with Truth posters! It's better than Banksy!

street art March 2015 -- The Truth has some new posters! They mix positive photo images of nurses with common stereotypes, along with short explanations, to help people reconsider their views of nurses. Consider deploying these posters in your clinical setting, on your college campus, around your city or town, or anywhere you think they might create cognitive dissonance. You might even take and post photos of the posters in these settings. For instance, consider placing the monkey poster near something with a biology or science theme, the battle-axe near some conflict-related location, and the naughty nurse near some appropriate venue, like a bar that advertises "penny shots for naughty nurses" (an actual promotion at a Pittsburgh bar in 2008, according to a correspondent).

Please download the posters free of charge by clicking on the links here or to the right. If you wish, send us photos showing where you've hung them at Thank you!!


See our founder and executive director Sandy Summers live this spring!

Duquesne University - Pittsburgh - April 16, 2015

Sandy will kick off the Be the Image of Nursing campaign at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The campaign will focus on educating the public about the value of nursing. To aid the campaign, we created new street art posters, inspired by discussions with Duquesne Assistant Professor Cindy Walters and Missy Mazzullo, publicity chair of the local chapter of the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). We hope to see the posters not only at Duquesne, but in many other places. Please join us at the event, or place the new posters anywhere you think they would be helpful!

DePaul University - Chicago - May 14, 2015

DePaul University Dean Bill Cody invited Sandy to deliver a Nurses Week address at the university to inspire nurses to join the effort to change how the world thinks about nursing. Please join us if you can!

More details about Sandy's speaking engagements here...


Saving Lives paperback coverGet a copy of the updated second edition of Saving Lives with every $30 donation!

Donate $30 to the Truth now, and we will send you a copy of our leaders' newly released book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk. The first edition of Saving Lives won an American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award and an award from the international nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau. The book was written for nurses, the media, and members of the public around the world. Many nursing professors use it as a text to discuss nursing in society. The authors donate all royalties to the Truth About Nursing. Order today--paperback or digital--and we will send a copy out to you!


Sandy SummersPlanning speakers?

Support the Truth by inviting Sandy Summers to empower your nurses!

Do you have leaders at your institution who do not understand the value of nursing? Sandy Summers can help you turn them around. 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 internationally. 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.


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!


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!

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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