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Golden Lamp Awards 2006

The Fourth Annual Golden Lamp Awards rank the best and worst general audience media portrayals of nursing we've seen in 2006.

This is the full version. Also see the:

summary version and the

press release.

The Best

Best Media Depictions of Nursing

Honorable Mention

Best Media on How Nurses Present Themselves to the Public

Best Efforts to Remedy Poor Media Portrayals of Nursing

The Worst

Worst Media Depictions of Nursing

Special "Worst Depiction" Awards

The "Just Joking" Awards

The View From Above Awards

The Evolutionary Dead-End Awards

The 2006 Golden Lamp Awards cover material released in the 13 months prior to the end of 2006. In the list below, television episodes are identified by original U.S. air dates. All dates are from 2006 unless otherwise noted.

Best Media Depictions of Nursing 2006

  1. Celia Dugger, The New York Times, "U.S. Plan to Lure Nurses May Hurt Poor Nations," May 24.

  2. This was a very strong, front-page article examining the state of nurse immigration to the United States, and the likely effects of a U.S. Senate bill that would have eliminated some current immigration restrictions for nurses.

  3. Ronnie Polaneczky, Philadelphia Daily News, Sept. 12, Sept. 26 and Oct. 5, three columns on a local labor dispute and the nursing shortage.

  4. These three strong columns describing labor negotiations at Temple University Hospital argued that nurses should get adequate staffing and limits on forced overtime, in order to improve patient safety and address key factors in the nursing shortage.

  5. Katherine Boo, The New Yorker, "Swamp Nurse," Feb. 2.

  6. This extensive piece explored the vital work of Louisiana nurse Luwana Marts and the Nurse-Family Partnership, a cost-effective program in which nurses make pre-natal and post-natal home visits to improve the health of poor first-time mothers and their children.

  7. We commend nursing scholars who publicize their research, in areas ranging from preventative care of tobacco users to the role of music in improving outcomes in hospital procedures, and the lay media that covers this important work:
  8. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN, a U.N. news agency providing news and analysis about sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia for the humanitarian community) has run powerful articles, reprinted on the Reuters Foundation website, on the challenges facing nurses in the developing world, from AIDS in Africa to violence in Iraq:
  9. Alan McEwen, The Scotsman, "Pioneering nurse wins award for life-saving heart scheme," Jan. 3.

  10. This article described an initiative by Edinburgh nurse Scott McLean to enable paramedics to treat heart attack victims with "clot-busting" thrombolytic drugs, recognizing a nurse for actually saving patients' hearts, not simply having a good heart himself.

  11. Dulce Corazon Z Lamagna, The Daily Star (Bangladesh), "Evaluating the role of nurses," June 12.

  12. This op-ed discussed what nurses actually do to improve patient outcomes, and described some of the challenges the profession now faces worldwide, including an unusually strong section on the effects of short-staffing.

  13. Bruce Horovitz and Kevin McCoy, contributors Paul Overberg, Tom Ankner, and Bruce Rosenstein, USA Today, "Nurse shortage puts school kids at risk," Dec. 13, 2005.

  14. This lengthy report showed that a severe shortage of school nurses threatens the health of children across the United States, especially in view of the increasingly serious health issues kids and nurses now confront at school.

  15. Stanley Aronson, Providence Journal, "Kentucky's intrepid nurses on horseback," Jan. 23.

  16. This physician's piece praised nurse-midwife Mary Breckinridge's globally influential work in founding and leading the Frontier Nursing Service, which has provided life-saving care to poor mothers and children in rural areas since 1925.

  17. We salute all nurses who advocate in the media to increase understanding of their profession and help their patients, as well as the media entities that work with these nurses, including:

    The International Council of Nursing, International Nurses Day campaign: "Safe staffing saves lives," May 12;

    Barbara Ficarra, Health in 30, WRCR radio show (Rockland County, NY), ongoing;

    Diana Mason* and Barbara Glickstein, HealthStyles, WBAI radio show (New York City), ongoing;

    Raewyn Janota, "The unique gifts that nurses receive," Globe and Mail (Toronto), Dec. 21, 2005;

    Gina Dennik-Champion, "Nurses back medical marijuana," Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Dec. 10, 2005;

    Nancy Banfield Johnson, "Time to split truth from myth about nursing," The Ithaca Journal, May 5;

    Ruth Tanyi, "Bad Sugar," television series on diabetes prevention, airing on KHIZ (Southern California), Oct. 2006 to Jan. 2007;

    The Royal College of Nursing (Wales), policy "manifesto," as reported in "Wales boozing worries nurses," News Wales, Sept. 20. 

  18. RAN: Remote Area Nurse, Jan. - Feb., Executive Producer Penny Chapman, SBS-TV (Australia).

    This six-part dramatic series centered on the competent, fairly autonomous Helen Tremain, a committed rural health nurse struggling to care for poor Torres Strait islanders. Though there was some physician glorification and Tremain was not always the strongest patient advocate, she was shown to have knowledge, skill, and the respect of her patients.

Honorable Mention: Best Media Depictions of Nursing 2006

  1. Mireille Kingma, Nurses on the Move: Migration and the Global Health Care Economy, 2006.

  2. This important book analyzes the causes and effects of the explosion in international nurse migration, including the personal stories of nurses who migrate from the developing to the developed world, and discussing the ethics of recruiting nurses from poor nations.

  3. Two episodes of Scrubs: "His Story III," by Angela Nissel, Apr. 18; "My Extra Mile," by Mark Stegemann, Mar. 21; Executive Producer Bill Lawrence; NBC.

    In these episodes, the irreverent sitcom made a special effort to recognize nurses' contributions: the former episode showed nurse Carla Espinosa helping interns learn key aspects of clinical practice and catching their errors, while in the latter Carla showed her encyclopedic knowledge of patient conditions and care plans.

  4. Al Lewis, "First aid for 'problem' nurses," Denver Post, Feb. 28.
  5. This business column focused on a Colorado ICU nurse who was reportedly fired after she complained about dangerous conditions, and a bill then pending in the state legislature that would have created whistleblower protection for nurses.

  6. Taunya English, "Mobile clinic brings healthcare information to children," WYPR radio (Baltimore), Aug. 16.
  7. This report on the Breathmobile, a nurse-staffed "asthma and allergy clinic on wheels" that visits city elementary schools, explained how the program keeps asthmatic kids in school and out of the emergency department.

  8. Dawn Neuses, Quad Cities Online, "City of Moline saves thousands with on-site 'Nurse Pam'", Aug. 6.

  9. This article highlighted the cost-effective care of a city occupational health nurse who provides wellness care including screenings, vaccinations, and preventative education, as well as handling most workers compensation visits.

  10. Jane Bell, "I'm not a 'male nurse' - I'm a nurse and proud of it," Belfast Telegraph, June 28.
  11. This article described the pioneering work of alcohol liaison nurse Gary Doherty at Mater Hospital, where Doherty offers "a lifeline to the drunk and the desperate in one of the most deprived areas of the province."

  12. Anne Underwood, "Diagnosis: Not Enough Nurses," Dec. 12, 2005; "'CSI' Nursing," Oct. 6; New Ideas For Nurses Oct 16 Newsweek.

    Underwood offered engaging looks at nursing contributions and nursing troubles: in the first piece, she described the current nursing shortage, stressing that "nursing is crucial to patient safety;" in the second, she highlighted the work of sexual assault forensic nurse Beryl Skog; and in the third piece, Underwood described the promise of the Transforming Care at the Bedside program which improves nursing care and reduces nursing turnover.

Best Media On How Nurses Present Themselves to the Public

Although the Truth's focus is the general media, and the books below are aimed mainly at nurses, these works ably explore how nurses think about their work and present it to others, thus increasing public understanding of the profession.

  1. Bernice Buresh* and Suzanne Gordon*, From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public (2nd ed.), 2006.
  2. This important book argues that nurses have not given the public an adequate account of their work, and the second edition offers even more strategies to help nurses tell the world what they do, in order to get the resources needed to resolve the nursing crisis.

  3. The Complexities of Care: Nursing Reconsidered, Sioban Nelson and Suzanne Gordon*, editors, 2006.
  4. This collection of essays suggests that the emotional "virtue script" that dominates nursing discourse has undermined nurses' ability to protect themselves and their patients from economic threats, and it urges nurses to emphasize their vital knowledge and skills.

  5. Doris Young, Save the First Dance for You: The Complete Nurse's Guide to Serving Your Profession, Your Patients, and Yourself, 2006.
  6. This how-to manual explains how nurses can prevent and cure burnout, helping their patients by helping themselves look at the bigger picture. Readers learn to assert control over their own lives, instead of simply accepting whatever positions others place them in.

Best Efforts to Remedy Poor Media Portrayals of Nursing 2006

  1. Wynn Las Vegas, especially Jamie Papp, Vice President of Slot Operations, for ending the casino's use of IGT's pernicious "Nurse Follies" slot machines, Jan.

    Wynn Las Vegas ended its use of "Nurse Follies" after a complaint by just one nurse. "Nurse Follies" seems to present the hospital as a kooky den of lust and greed, relying on nursing stereotypes like the naughty nurse and the battleaxe.

  2. CVS, especially Mark Kolligian, Vice President of Customer Service, for changing a TV ad that suggested a pharmacist could train a layperson to be a nurse in half a day, Jan.

    In the ad, a CVS pharmacist said he spent half a day teaching a patient's husband to administer her 20 different medications, and suggested that made the husband "a nurse." After our discussions, CVS modified the ad to omit the "nurse" comments.

  3. ALR Technologies, especially Stan Cruitt, President, and Wendy Prabhu, President, Mercom Capital Group, for changing the name of an ALR health monitoring device from the "Electronic Nurse" to the "Compliance Reminder ALRT500," Sept.

    An ALR press release had announced that the ALRT500 would be called an "Electronic Nurse." After one email from the Truth, ALR agreed to change the name to one that did not imply that its product could replace nurses with years of college-level science education.

  4. Constellation Brands, especially Michael Martin, Vice President of Corporate Communications, for removing "naughty nurse" images from ads and events for Hydra Vodka Water, Sept.

    Hydra's "Water made naughty" campaign, aimed at young adults, featured models dressed as naughty nurses in ads and at events promoting the drink. After a few contacts from the Truth, the company decided to discontinue its use of the stereotypical imagery.

  5. Schick, especially John Wergeles, Group Business Director for Men's Systems, for agreeing not to revive naughty nurse print ads for the Quattro Titanium razor, Oct.

    Schick's ads for the razor featured an injured male skateboarder surrounded by naughty "nurses" giving him "more intensive care" in a mock research study setting. After contacts from the Truth, Schick agreed not to revive the campaign.

  6. Coors, especially Maxine Rizzo, Consumer Information Representative, for discontinuing the use of various "naughty nurse" images in the Coors Light Trauma Tour in Canada, Dec.

    Coors Canada's extreme sports "Trauma Tour" had included "naughty nurses" in TV and other ads, and "naughty nurse" models had appeared at related bar promotions, as well as the actual sporting events. The company stopped using the images after efforts by the Truth, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (especially Laurie Spooner), and Coors USA.

Worst Media Depictions of Nursing 2006

  1. Eight episodes of Grey's Anatomy: "Owner of a Lonely Heart," Dec. 4, 2005; "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer," Dec. 11, 2005; "Tell Me Sweet Little Lies," Jan. 22; "Break on Through," Jan. 29; "Deterioration of the Fight or Flight Response" and "Losing My Religion," May 15; "Time Has Come Today," Sept. 21; "I Am a Tree," Sept. 28; Executive Producers Shonda Rhimes, Mark Gordon, Betsy Beers, Jim Parriott; ABC.
  2. This massively popular show, now seen around the world, continues to portray nurses as pathetic losers who are peripheral to important hospital care, while the smart, pretty physician characters who dominate it spend a lot of time on work nurses do in real life.

  3. Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders, Nicolas de Torrente, Executive Director, MSF-USA; Darin Portnoy, President of the Board, MSF-USA. The Nobel Prize-winning relief organization has refused even to consider a minor change to its name (such as to Soins San Frontières / Care Without Borders) that would credit the nurses and others who do most of MSF's work worldwide.
  4. Johnson & Johnson, Andrea Alstrup, Vice President, Adverting; Andrea Higham, Director, Campaign for Nursing's Future. The pharmaceutical giant continues to broadcast television commercials that aim to recruit new nurses, but mostly ignore nurses' knowledge and skill; instead, the ads focus on the emotional "angel" and handmaiden imagery that is a factor in the very shortage they are trying to combat.
  5. An episode of The Sopranos, "Mayham," Mar. 26, Executive Producers David Chase, Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green, Brad Grey, HBO. This episode of the acclaimed Mafia show portrayed nurses as nasty, rule-bound physician subordinates who actually impede the psychosocial care of the gravely wounded Tony Soprano and his distraught family.
  6. Four episodes of House: "Who's Your Daddy?", May 16; "No Reason," May 23; "Que Sera Sera," Nov. 7; "Whac-a-Mole," Nov. 21; Executive Producers David Shore, Paul Attanasio, Katie Jacobs, Bryan Singer; Fox.
  7. This hit show depicts brilliant physician characters providing all key bedside care, including care provided by nurses in real life. On the rare occasions when nurses do appear, they are mute, unskilled subordinates who seem to be summoned into existence literally out of nowhere by the physicians to do a simple physical task.

  8. Nancy Gibbs and Amanda Bower, "Q: What Scares Doctors? A: Being the Patient." TIME magazine, May 1.
  9. This huge cover story about health threats posed by hospitals presented an all-physician vision of care, based on expert comment by 12 physicians, that excluded nurses so completely that readers may have wondered if nursing had been virtually phased out.

  10. Two episodes of ER: "All About Christmas Eve", Dec. 8, 2005; "Graduation Day", Sept. 28; Executive Producers John Wells, Christopher Chulack, Michael Crichton, David Zabel; NBC.
  11. ER is much better for nursing than other prime time dramas are, but these episodes were troubling: the former swerved into extreme battleaxe territory in showing the final exit of ED nurse manager Eve Peyton, while the latter presented a NICU where physicians did everything that mattered, while the nurses were inept flunkies.

  12. Akeelah and the Bee, written and directed by Doug Atchison, April.

    In this popular film, a bright girl from a disadvantaged background aims for the National Spelling Bee. But her bitter mother had to settle for being a nurse instead of a physician after dropping out of college, suggesting that nurses are sad physician wannabes who lack college-level training or meaningful skill.

  13. The "naughty nurse" image remained a staple of virtually every form of media worldwide. A few examples from different media:
    • The Sun, (U.K.), "Meet the X-rayted nurses," Nov. 28; "Naughty Hospital Staff," Nov. 29; text by Lucy Hagan.

      The world's most popular English-language daily newspaper ran two prominent "naughty nurse" lingerie pictorials--with the added twist that the models really were nurses or nursing students--to promote the calendar "100% Real Nurses 2007."

    • The Late Show with David Letterman, Executive Producers Rob Burnett, Barbara Gaines, Maria Pope; Dec. 19, 2005; CBS.

      A short "gash cam" segment in which a real surgeon expertly removed stitches from Dave's hand featured two attractive models, dressed as "nurses" in short white dresses, standing by and giggling.

    • Saw III, Blood drive campaign, Lion's Gate and Twisted Pictures, Oct.

      The popular U.S. horror movie Saw III was promoted with a nationwide Halloween Blood Drive publicized with sexy/scary "naughty nurse" posters, degrading the very professionals most likely to use the blood collected to save lives.

    • Close to Home, John McPherson, various newspapers, Dec. 18.

      This comic, published in about 700 newspapers, showed an EMT giving a stretcher-bound patient a choice: "Mercy Hospital" was "20 minutes closer," but the nurses at "Saratoga Hospital" were "really hot." This "joke" suggests that the important thing about nurses is their physical appearance.

  14. Two episodes of Heroes: "Genesis," Sept. 25; "One Giant Leap," Oct. 9; Executive Producers Tim Kring, Dennis Hammer, Allan Arkush; NBC.
    • Early episodes of this new hit show presented hospice nursing--the former work of power-absorbing lead character Peter Petrelli--as a dead-end job for dreamy, unduly self-sacrificing losers, rather than a professional career that requires years of college-level education.

Special "Worst Depiction" Awards 2006

The View from Above Awards 2006

These awards go to nurses and physicians who have presented the public with contemptuous, distorted visions of nursing.

  1. American Medical Association and Rebecca Patchin, comments in various major newspapers, throughout 2006.

    AMA board member Dr. Rebecca Patchin exploited her status as a "former nurse" to bolster misleading attacks on nurse practitioner training and care in various major publications, as part of AMA efforts to limit the rapid expansion of the "quick clinics" NPs staff in retail stores.

  2. Two pieces by Vickie Milazzo: "Why Are Nurses Leaving Clinical Nursing? Not Because of ER!", American Chronicle, Aug. 21; "This I Believe: Stepping Out of Fear," National Public Radio, Sept. 4.�

    Nurse Milazzo's pieces promoting her business training legal nurse consultants linked bedside nursing with failure. The former piece suggested that working conditions are so bad that nurses would be leaving regardless of what the media did, but it offered no real solutions--except to become a legal nurse consultant. In the latter piece, Milazzo told how she escaped the bedside, and suggested that bedside nursing is wrong for anyone who wants to "succeed" in life.

  3. Two op-eds by one or more anonymous U.K. physicians: "Why nurses are no angels," The Independent and the Belfast Telegraph, June 20; "Are nurses angels? I don't think so," Daily Mail, July 18.

    These paternalistic pieces urged the National Health Service to stop assigning nurses new management and clinical roles, a practice that has supposedly helped produce a generation of uppity nurses who are stupid, uncaring, lazy, and too eager to dump everything on physicians. Instead, the pieces argue, nurses should focus on the basic caring and hygiene tasks the physicians think define nursing.

The "Just Joking" Awards 2006

  1. Mattel, for its "Nurse Quacktitioner" doll, Dec. 2005. �

    The world's leading toy maker released a small collectible doll called the "Nurse Quacktitioner," which suggested that nurse practitioners (NPs) are "quacks," or untrained persons who pretend to be physicians. Mattel said it had no idea that this doll would be taken as an attack on NPs, whose main professional stereotype has been that they are, uh, untrained persons who pretend to be physicians. Mattel refused to recall the dolls from retailers, even though Wal-Mart agreed to sell them back to Mattel.

  2. IGT, "Nurse Follies," video slot machine, Jan.

    The world's leading supplier of casino gaming machines refused to take any steps to mitigate the harm caused by its "Nurse Follies" slot machines. This game seems to present the hospital as a kooky den of lust and greed, relying on nursing stereotypes including the naughty nurse and the battleaxe.

The Evolutionary Dead End Awards 2006

These awards recognize those whose contempt for nursing--at a time when the profession is in crisis--is notably self-defeating.

  1. The Heart Attack Grill, Tempe, AZ, ongoing.

    This restaurant employs waitresses in naughty nurse lingerie to serve "double-bypass" burgers and other cholesterol treats. The owner has refused to consider removing the nurse element from the "naughty" uniforms. But such stereotypes are factors in the undervaluation of nursing that feeds the shortage--maybe we should say overfeeds the shortage--and threatens lives worldwide.

  2. Silvio Berlusconi, public comments on recent hospitalization, Dec.

    The Italian opposition leader and former prime minister, at the Cleveland Clinic for placement of a pacemaker, reportedly thanked his nurses for keeping him alive as follows: "Italian nurses are better-looking...These [U.S.] ones scare me a bit. Don't even think about leaving me alone at night with one of them." These comments clearly suggest that nurses are about hotness only.

See the summary version of the Golden Lamp Awards and our press release.

*A member of the Center's board of directors or advisory panel.



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