Celebrate Nurses Day by
Strengthening the Profession

A Message from ANA Hall of Fame Inductee Claire M. Fagin

Dear Nursing Supporter,

To celebrate International Nurses Day this year, I urge you to do something that will really advance the profession: join me and the Truth About Nursing in a major effort to improve public understanding of the value of nursing. Working together, we will enable nursing to gain the resources it needs. Please donate to the Truth About Nursing now.

Join, Renew, GiveToday, many direct care nurses are too stretched to give their best care. Many nursing educators struggle for funding. I believe that is due in large part to the poor understanding society has about nursing, despite the positive sentiments often expressed about us, particularly on Nurses Day. That lack of true understanding is fueled by enduring stereotypes that the mass media continue to reinforce.

When nursing is weakened, patients are at risk.

How the media affects nursing education and practice

Our funding has everything to do with the value that decision-makers and the public place on nursing. But where do decision-makers form key impressions of nursing?

Ninety percent of people say they learn about health care from television. And research shows that entertainment television affects how people understand the roles of health professionals.

For my whole life, I have seen fictional nurses depicted as submissive, barely-educated assistants who fetch things for physicians, or even provide them or patients with sex. Join, Renew, GiveOn television, physician characters often perform work that real-life nurses do. And elite news media sources typically focus on and consult only physicians. Many nurses see these images and move on, but the public does not. Research shows that many school children continue to view nursing, based on information from the media, as a low-skilled field for females with limited options. These children are tomorrow’s leaders.

Media that undervalues nursing tells decision-makers that we are not worth their funding.

My work with Nurses of America

The image of nursing has been a longstanding concern of mine. In the late 1980s, I formed a task force with colleagues called Nurses of America. With a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, we prepared nurses to speak about nursing's value, developed a proposal for a television talk show with nurses as hosts, and met with media leaders. When Aaron Spelling's 1989 television show Nightingales appeared -- featuring dimwitted naughty nurses who fawned over physicians -- we set up a grass-roots campaign and the network pulled the show.

Nurses and supporters must come together again to reignite the effort to improve public understanding of nursing. How?

Please support the Truth About Nursing

Join, Renew, GiveThe Truth About Nursing, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has been at the forefront of more recent efforts to raise awareness about the value of nursing. Sandy and Harry Summers have spearheaded effective advocacy campaigns, including pressuring MTV to make amends for its damaging "reality" show Scrubbing In in 2013. And they wrote Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All At Risk. Oxford University Press just published the updated second edition, and I urge you to read it.

The Truth and its leaders have done all this with little funding. Sandy and Harry volunteer all of their time. With sufficient resources they could do much more.

So I hope I can count on you to join the Truth About Nursing in an ongoing supportive role. Please considering making a generous commitment every per year, at whatever amount is right for you.

Imagine if viewers regularly saw nurses saving lives on their favorite TV dramas, and if the news media regularly consulted nurses. Decision-makers would feel far more pressure to give nurses the resources they need for education, research, and clinical practice. Please support the Truth About Nursing today.

There is more information on Truth About Nursing’s proposed efforts here.

Thank you very much.

All my best,

Claire Fagin's signature

Claire Fagin, RN, PhD, FAAN
Dean Emerita, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Interim President, University of Pennsylvania, 1993-1994

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.

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

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