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The Truth About Nursing wishes everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!



The Truth's website is going mobile-friendly for 2016!

Our volunteers need professional IT assistance to make it happen--and your help

Streetwalking to Welltopia

Dr. Ken on whether nurses are more like prostitutes or work spouses


Tribute to nurses on Katie features Diana Mason

Man who has a woman's job

Black-ish exploits nursing stereotypes

I am Nurse Noakes. You do not wish to cross me.

A review of the movie Cloud Atlas

Mind, body, and spirit

Switched at Birth has strong NP character but still assumes smart people pursue medicine

Planning your curriculum for the upcoming semester?

We can help with our faculty curriculum planning page

Speaking engagements

See Sandy Summers live in Washington, DC and Sugarland, Texas!

Disruptive innovation

Create street art with Truth posters!

Saving Lives

Order a copy of our updated second edition today!

Planning speakers?

Sandy Summers just got back from empowering nurses in Atlantic City, Riyadh and Decorah. Book Sandy to empower your nurses and nursing students today!


The Truth's website is going mobile friendy

Our volunteers need professional IT assistance to make it happen--and your help

Mobile-friendlyNovember 26, 2015 -- Recently our volunteers have been working hard to make our website mobile-friendly. But it has proved to be a monumental challenge, even delaying the release of our news alerts. We ultimately decided that we needed professional IT assistance, and that will take some funding. Would you please help us make this necessary transition, so our educational and advocacy efforts for nursing can keep pace with the modern era? Please click here to help us with a tax deductible year end donation. Thank you very much!


Streetwalking to Welltopia

Dr. Ken on whether nurses are more like prostitutes or work spouses

Clark on Dr. KenOctober 9, 2015 -- In tonight's episode of the new ABC sitcom Dr. Ken, the arrogant lead physician character learned that "his nurse" Clark was also his "friend" and should be treated better. Unfortunately, the plotline also suggested that nurses are low-skilled servants looking for a physician to possess them. In particular, viewers were told that (1) Clark, formerly a "nurse" or "doctor's assistant," had just become a registered nurse by taking his "boards," after studying in an RN program "since last summer"; (2) this transition was like a "streetwalker" becoming an "escort," ha ha, but it would not result in a pay raise; (3) nurses are subordinate work spouses of physicians who essentially belong to the physicians, rather than serving patients under their own practice model; (4) physician abuse of nurses is unfortunate but also kinda funny; and (5) men in nursing do not embody traditional notions of masculinity. The show has yet to suggest that nurses have actual health skills--in contrast to Dr. Ken, who offers a few passing indications of health expertise in each episode. This adds up to toxic stew of nursing stereotypes: the unskilled handmaiden, the angel, the weak male, and even the naughty nurse. In fact, nurses receive at least three years of college-level science education and they use their advanced skills to save lives, often with little or no involvement by physicians. The episode, written by Mary Fitzgerald, loses more points because lead actor and show creator Ken Jeong actually is a physician. We realize the show mocks most of its characters. But please join us in urging Dr. Ken's producers to make amends and to avoid nursing stereotypes, which harm real nurses--and their patients. read more...or please click here right now to sign our petition.



Tribute to nurses on Katie features Diana Mason

Diana Mason and Katie Couric The American NurseJuly 16, 2014 -- Today, Katie Couric spent half of her syndicated daytime talk show Katie on a tribute to nurses that was based mainly on the just-released documentary The American Nurse. Most of the half-hour segment featured interviews with director Carolyn Jones and three of the five nurses profiled in the film. There were heartfelt salutes to nurses from Couric and Jones, and the three nurses were able to deliver some helpful information about nursing, particularly its psychosocial elements. The brief appearance of one of the nurses, a military officer, effectively conveyed that nurses can be health care leaders. It is true that there was also plenty in the segment to reinforce the angel image of nursing, especially in Couric's own comments, which focused on the caring and support aspects of the profession and not much on nurses' scientific education or skill. One bright spot was the appearance in the last five minutes of the nursing scholar and leader Diana Mason, president of the American Academy of Nursing. That portion of the show was presented as advice on what viewers need to know before their next hospital visit, a common way nursing knowledge is portrayed in the mass media, more as a set of practical "tips" or "secrets" than as the kind of scientific expertise physicians provide. But the savvy, articulate Mason used the appearance as a platform to deliver strong policy messages designed to improve public understanding of nursing and to advance the profession itself. She cheerfully hammered away at the need for better nurse staffing and for nurses to be more involved in health care decision-making. Particularly as a result of Mason's appearance, the segment included some helpful information about the tangible value of nursing. We thank all who were responsible. more...and see the video clips!


Man who has a woman's job

Black-ish exploits nursing stereotypes

Black-ish Larry the nurseOctober 8, 2014 -- The new ABC sitcom Black-ish is about a financially successful black family that struggles with its racial identity in a mostly white social environment. Tonight's episode reinforced the tired stereotypes that nurses are low-skilled physician assistants and that men in nursing are doing women's work. The show's mother character, Rainbow Johnson, appears to be an anesthesiologist. In this episode, Rainbow tries to inspire her precocious six-year-old daughter Diane to be a physician by showing her around the hospital where Rainbow practices. She shows her daughter medication administration and monitoring tasks that anesthesiologists do, but that ironically also bear a striking resemblance to things nurses do. Diane is bored with the hospital at first; she is more impressed with her father's job in advertising, which involves Justin Bieber! When Rainbow is paged to the emergency department (ED), she assigns "Nurse Larry" to babysit Diane. Apparently Larry has nothing to do except whatever some physician tells him. He does try to amuse Diane by making a "turkey" from a blown-up medical glove. Diane condescendingly tells him: "I love it, man who has a woman's job!" There is no indication the show finds that comment problematic; we are invited to laugh at it. After Diane effortlessly slips away from poor Nurse Larry, she encounters the real life-and-death work of the ED, which involves a crush of injured patients, including one with a hatchet in his head. The patient dies despite Rainbow's best efforts, and Rainbow fears Diane will be traumatized, but instead she finally falls in love with the idea of being a physician. Yay! Unfortunately this empowerment plotline exploits ugly stereotypes of nurses as passive helpers who are irrelevant to serious health care and of male nurses in particular as sad, emasculated, and useless. The episode was "The Nod," written by Kenya Barris. Please join us in urging the show to make amends and to avoid expressing further contempt for nursing. more...and see the film clips!


I am Nurse Noakes. You do not wish to cross me.

A review of the movie Cloud Atlas

Nurse Noakes, Cloud AtlasCloud Atlas is a cinematic puzzle, with six distinct but cleverly interwoven narratives set in past, present, and future eras. The actors play multiple roles across gender and racial lines in these stories, which seem to highlight humanity's eternal struggle to transcend discord, selfishness, and ignorance. But there are more mundane elements, like the minor, fairly banal nurse character Noakes, a battle-axe at a fake nursing home that actually serves to confine elderly people whose relatives have tired of them. Nurse Noakes resembles Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in her desire to control and torment those under her "care." But Noakes is less subtle and more menacing than Ratched. As played by Hugo Weaving -- acting and dressing in a traditionally female way -- Noakes has no virtues, and she quickly resorts to violence against anyone who gets in her way. Directors Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, adapting the novel by David Mitchell, have made an absorbing film full of ambition and invention. Yet the Noakes character is little more than a clich�. Based on Ratched and her repressed sexuality, Noakes is even worse, in part because the film seems to link her malevolence to her gender ambiguity. more...and see the film clips!


Mind, body, and spirit

Switched at Birth has strong NP character but still assumes smart people pursue medicine

Daphne, Campbell and Jorge August 2014 -- The third season of the ABC Family drama Switched at Birth included a plotline in which talented high school senior Daphne works at a Kansas City health clinic, where she meets and has flings with both a nurse practitioner (NP) and a medical student. The NP character Jorge displays health care skill, strength, and good judgment. After he explains that he chose nursing for its holistic features, we see him provide expert, autonomous care to clinic patients ranging from a boy with asthma to a young heroin addict in withdrawal. But even though Jorge has a bigger and more impressive clinic role than the medical student, Daphne appears to be heading for a career in medicine. In fact, there is no suggestion, in the many episodes touching on Daphne's future in health care, that she might consider becoming a nurse. Of course, that is the modern entertainment media's default mode for a smart character from a disempowered group (Daphne is deaf) who shows interest in and aptitude for health care. But it's more striking than usual here because of the Jorge character. And it's not just a senior physician who offers Daphne the standard Hollywood endorsement that she will be a great physician some day. Jorge himself tells her that. We do thank the show producers for including Jorge, a skilled and strong Latino man in nursing. And if they can't have Daphne even consider nursing, we urge them to at least be open to more good portrayals of nursing and to avoid suggesting that medicine is the only health profession for able career seekers. The show was created by Lizzy Weiss. more...and see the film clips!


curriculum planning difficultiesNursing professors, in need of curriculum ideas?

Many nursing professors rely on the extensive and varied materials on the Truth's website to help their students engage with critical issues nurses will face in the future, from their public image to key aspects of nursing education, practice, and advocacy. Since 2001, we have explored and analyzed how the global media and society in general has seen the nursing profession. Join your colleagues and use this material to help plan your curriculum! See the full list...


See Sandy Summers live in Washington, DC and Sugarland, Texas!

American Association of Colleges of Nursing,
Nursing Advancement Professionals
Annual Conference
Keynote speaker
         March 17, 2016, morning
         Washington, DC
         contact: Jenny Carrick

University of Houston School of Nursing
Keynote speaker
         April 7-8, 2016
         Sugarland, Texas
         contact: Danielle Quintana

Recent engagements

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Baltimore, Maryland
September 16, 2015, 12:00 - 1:00 pm

Sandy will speak about her work to improve public understanding of nursing. For details contact: Erika Juengst. See the flyer!

New Jersey State Nurses Convention - Bally's, Atlantic City, New Jersey
October 14, 2015

Sandy will speak on nursing's portrayal in the media and how we can improve it. For details contact: Barbara Chamberlain. See the flyer!

International Nursing Symposium - King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; November 10-12, 2015

Sandy will be the keynote speaker, giving four distinct presentations on nursing and the media. For details contact: Jubie Paner See the conference program

Luther College, Decorah, Iowa; November 19, 2015

Sandy will speak in several settings about nursing and the media. For more information contact: Jayme Sue Nelson

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


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!!


Saving Lives paperback coverGet a copy 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!

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.


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
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Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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book cover, Saving lives

A Few Successes —
We Can Change the Media!

Educate the world that nurses save lives!

Save Lives. Be a Nurse. bumper sticker