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For immediate release

December 27, 2005



Sandy Summers
The Truth About Nursing
410-323-1099 or 443-253-3738

Heroes, Whores and Handmaidens: 3rd Annual Golden Lamp Awards Rank Best and Worst Media Portrayals of Nursing in 2005

Awards featured on Jeopardy! and in the January issue of the American Journal of Nursing

Baltimore, MD, December 27, 2005 -- The Center for Nursing Advocacy and the American Journal of Nursing announce this year's annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses. Media recognized by the "Golden Lamp Awards" include such well-known television hits as ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," which was singled out for especially poor performance. The Golden Lamp Awards highlight media portrayals from around the world that the Center believes deserve attention, for better or worse.

"Most of the best depictions of nursing appeared in the print press," said Center Executive Director Sandy Summers, who cited work by journalist Suzanne Gordon and the Boston Globe as exceptional. Summers also praised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for changing the name of its annual minority health campaign from "Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day" to "Take a Loved One for a Check-Up Day" in order not to exclude nurses.

Many of the worst depictions were on television. NBC's "ER," which showed some improvement overall, appeared on both the best and worst lists. But ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and Fox's "House" ranked low all year. According to Summers, "these shows portrayed nurses as mute servants, while heroic physicians provided all important care -- much of which nurses do in real life. Worse yet, the physician characters made vicious anti-nurse slurs that were never rebutted." Summers said that "Grey's Anatomy" had positive physician characters indignantly deliver lines like "Did you just call me a nurse?" and "You're the pig who called Meredith a nurse...I hate you on principle." Summers also noted that the physician characters on "House" consider nurses to be unskilled "nurse-maids" who are good for handling stool and patients who have fallen down. In one scene, she said, the lead physician summoned nurses for the latter task by calling out, "clean-up on aisle three!"

The Golden Lamp Awards were featured on a June 2005 episode of "Jeopardy!" Several of the most prominent entries on the Center's lists will be published in the January 2006 issue of the American Journal of Nursing, the oldest and largest circulating nursing journal in the world.

"Anyone who goes to the Truth's website and looks at the myriad media misrepresentations of nursing will understand why the profession still has an uphill public perception battle, particularly with those who don't have first-hand experience with nurses," said Diana Mason, RN, PhD, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing. "Research shows that the media greatly affects the public's views and actions toward health care. We applaud the efforts of The Center for Nursing Advocacy in helping the profession to overcome these inaccurate and unfair perceptions."

See the Center's annual year-end awards in full or summary version.

The Center congratulates those responsible for items on the "best" and "honorable mention" lists, and it encourages continued strong efforts from them. The Center is also reaching out to those responsible for items on the "worst" list, in the hope that it can help them improve their treatment of nursing issues in 2006.

Summers noted that some of the best accounts of nursing were created by nurses themselves, or by journalists who consulted nursing experts. "This points to the importance of nurses speaking out strongly and frequently about their profession." She added that this year the Center has seen an impressive number of nurses across the world advocating in the media for their patients and themselves.

2005 Golden Lamp Awards--Best Media Depictions of Nursing

Honorable Mention

Best Attempts to Remedy Negative Media Portrayals of Nursing

Worst Portrayals of Nursing in the Media

Special "Worst Portrayal" Awards

"Let Them Eat Cake" Awards

"Just Joking" Award

"Every Helpful Person or Thing Is a Nurse" Awards

The Center for Nursing Advocacy, founded in 2001, is a Baltimore-based non-profit that seeks to increase public understanding of the central, front-line role nurses play in modern health care. The focus of the Center is to promote more accurate, balanced and frequent media portrayals of nurses and increase the media's use of nurses as expert sources.

Founded in 1900, the American Journal of Nursing is the official publication of the American Nurses Association and the largest and oldest continually-circulating nursing journal in the world. It is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a leading international publisher of professional health information resources for nurses, physicians, specialized clinicians and students. Nearly 275 periodicals and 1,500 books in more than 100 disciplines are published under the LWW brand, as well as content-based sites and online corporate and customer services. LWW is part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading provider of information for professionals and students in nursing, medicine, medicine, allied health, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry.  

For more information on the 2005 awards, contact:

Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN
Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD, USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790
cell 1-443-253-3738


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