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News on Nursing in the Media

Ann Perkins Parks and Rec

Animal Control

Goodbye to Parks & Rec and nurse Ann Perkins

The world outside the cave

Physician writers salute nurses in the elite media


Is Baylor ad praising its nurses as "servants" a problem?

Cheesy McNuggets

Taiwan McDonald's greets new year with naughty nurses!

Saving Lives paperback coverSaving Lives

Order a copy of the updated second edition today!

Speaking Engagements

Sign Sandy Summers up to empower your nurses!


Animal Control

Goodbye to "Parks & Rec" and nurse Ann Perkins

February 24, 2015 -- Tonight's series finale of the NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation included a final appearance by nurse character Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), the long-time best friend of the lead character, government manager Leslie Knope. Up until her January 2014 departure from the show, Ann was arguably the mockumentary's most normal character--smart, supportive, and relatively adult, although with enough quirks to be credible and entertaining. Ann Perkins Parks & RecIn a sense, Ann was like nurse Carla from NBC's earlier sitcom Scrubs. Carla was bright and competent, often playing adult / straight man to the immature kooks around her. But unlike Scrubs, Parks & Rec has not spent a lot of time suggesting that physicians are the directors or providers of all skilled health care. In addition, nurse Ann was capable of acting with real autonomy and skill, at least on the limited number of occasions when we saw health care on Parks & Rec. In a remarkable April 2013 episode, Ann casually maneuvered around an uncaring physician, Nurse Jackie-style, to provide the difficult city worker Ron Swanson with the holistic care he needed to improve his health. And when Ann also became the part-time public relations director of the Pawnee City health department, she showed leadership, at least within the show's comic context, by spearheading public health initiatives including a public service announcement about diabetes in a September 2011 episode. Not every element of the series was great for nursing. For example, the show did not seem to understand that Ann was still acting as a nurse in her health department work. But she was such a strong and persuasive character--Leslie often seemed in awe of her--that the series was a net gain for nursing. We thank those responsible, including show creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. more...


The world outside the cave

Physician writers salute nurses in the elite media

Richard GundermanMarch 3, 2014 -- The last few months have seen a striking range of elite media items in which physician writers have recognized the importance and expertise of nurses, from famous figures of the past to unnamed nurses in current practice. On December 16, 2013, Richard Gunderman had a piece in The Atlantic, "Midwives for the Dying," in which he argued that death has a lot in common with birth. To illustrate this theme he offered an extensive, thoughtful interview with Michigan palliative care nurse Peg Nelson. Ten days later, Barron Lerner posted a review on the New York Times Well blog of a book by Yale historian Naomi Rogers about Elizabeth Kenny, an Australian nurse who played a prominent role in early polio care and emphasized patient mobility and "keen clinical observation." On February 10, 2014, Lawrence K. Altman wrote a Well blog post about an "eminent" medical professor's belated realization, after a hospitalization at age 90, that nurses were important to his care. The piece shows genuine appreciation for nurses' knowledge and their role in catching deadly errors, but it does not show an understanding that they are autonomous professionals who save lives following their own practice model, not just valuable physician assistants. And today, Victoria Sweet penned an essay, "Far More Than a Lady With a Lamp," about the radical change in her opinion of Florence Nightingale when she actually began to learn about the British nurse's pioneering work on hospital design, data-driven health research, and other public health matters. We thank those responsible for all of these items. It's not that nurses need physicians to approve their work, of course. But the pieces signal openness to a serious consideration of nurses' health care skills, and physician-created media about nursing may be more persuasive to the public than media by nurses themselves would be. more...



Is Baylor ad praising its nurses as "servants" a problem?

Baylor servantsFebruary 2014 -- The Baylor Health Care System has recently run television ads based on the idea that its employees are faithful "servants." That concept is rooted in the non-profit company's Christian heritage and, presumably, in a recent management trend toward presenting a range of private sector workers (including executives) as "servants." The one-minute ad features many apparent nurses in clinical settings, and it certainly seems to show them in a positive light. But many nurses have objected to being presented as "servants." They have a point. Nurses have long been regarded as low-skilled physician servants--indeed, they have been encouraged to embrace an ideal of selfless devotion that has hardly helped them get the respect and resources they deserve. And the nurse scenes in the ad emphasize what seem to be the most unskilled tasks with which nurses are associated, including hand-holding, mopping brows, wheeling gurneys, changing "hearts" and sheets, and picking things up off the floor. Meanwhile, apparent physicians in the ad act as servants by doing research and cutting-edge surgeries, changing "minds" and "tomorrow." The servanthood theme may hold some appeal as a matter of spirituality or marketing, but it's dangerous to apply to a traditionally female profession that has struggled to overcome the notion that it simply serves physicians and to get respect for its advanced education and skills. We urge Baylor not to associate nursing with servanthood, or at least to ensure that it be expressed at least in part through nurses' life-saving expertise. more...


Cheesy McNuggets

Taiwan McDonald's greets new year with naughty nurses!

McDonalds TaiwanJanuary 6, 2014 -- Today the RocketNews24 website (Tokyo) posted a gleeful piece by Joan Coello reporting that at least one McDonald's outlet in Taiwan was celebrating the new year by having its female staff work in naughty nurse outfits. Numerous images made clear that the outfits featured, as the item noted, "mini-length nurse uniforms and thigh-high lacy stockings."  The piece's text conveyed non-stop delight about this turn of events, and it made this telling observation: "Some say you can never have the best of both worlds, but from where we're sitting, these young ladies have found the golden formula to being both cute and sexy at the same time!" Yes, that golden formula does just about cover the range of female potential in the workplace! And the piece focuses on how the outfits affected male patrons, many of whom evidently expressed interest in the staffers' relationship status. Both the website item and the restaurant outfits reinforce the naughty nurse image that infects media worldwide. Of course promotional efforts like this are light-hearted and no one thinks these are really nurses. But the wave of imagery associating nursing with workplace sexuality undermines respect for the profession at a time when nurses struggle to get the resources they need to save lives--including lives threatened by diseases related to poor diet, like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer. We urge McDonald's and RocketNew24 to avoid promoting naughty nurse imagery. more...


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

Saving Lives paperback cover 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.


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!


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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
office 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790

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book cover, Saving lives

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