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For immediate release
January 9, 2008
Sandy Summers
410-323-1100 or 443-253-3738

Nurses Find Media Mixed

Baltimore, MD -- The Truth About Nursing has announced its 5th "Golden Lamp Awards," the group's annual list of the best and worst media portrayals of nurses. The 2007 list includes influential media from Hollywood shows and movies to reporting on the nursing crisis in Africa.

Among the "worst" award recipients were:

  • "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice," "House" and "Scrubs" for their grossly inaccurate physician-centric vision of care;
  • Kelly Ripa of "LIVE with Regis and Kelly" for promising to be her co-host's "sponge bath nurse;"
  • Will Shortz, puzzle master for the New York Times, for a crossword clue stating that ICU nurses were mere "helpers;"
  • New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine for suggesting that physicians alone saved his life following his near-fatal car crash; and
  • Members of the U.K. Parliament for posing in and promoting a naughty nurse calendar.

"Most of the best depictions of nursing continue to appear in the print media," said Truth Executive Director Sandy Summers. She cited specific pieces in The Wall Street Journal, The Star-Ledger (Newark), and on WBUR, a Boston NPR affilliate, as being among the best. Summers also praised nursing scholars and advocates who had made an impact in the general media.

Summers said movies had a mixed year for nursing. The Truth gave the much-lauded "Atonement" an "Honorable Mention" for its limited but nurse-centered depiction of World War II health care. But the group said that soccer movie "Gracie" was one of the worst because of its suggestion that the heroic lead character, unlike her mother, could avoid being stuck in a dead-end loser job like nursing.

The Truth noted that, as usual, many of the least accurate and most damaging depictions were in the influential television medium. Summers said that ABC's new "Private Practice" included prime time's least knowledgeable major nurse character in midwifery student Dell Parker.

Overall, the Truth found that "Grey's Anatomy" and "House" continued to be the worst offenders. "These globally popular shows portray nurses as brainless servants," Summers said, "while heroic physicians provide all important care -- much of which nurses do in real life, like defibrillation, triage and patient education. With a nursing crisis stemming in large part from undervaluation of the profession, this is unacceptable."

On the other hand, the Truth gave an Honorable Mention to episodes of NBC's "ER," which it said was the only drama to make a real effort to show nurses were important to patient care. And not all print press portrayals were good ones. The group cited a long New Yorker story on the shortage of geriatricians as being one of the year's worst for ignoring the key role of skilled nurses in geriatric care.

Summers said many companies, including Heineken, Cadbury-Schweppes, and Bloomingdale's, had agreed to modify damaging images of nursing in their ads. She also singled out Johnson & Johnson for improving the recruiting commercials broadcast as part of its Campaign for Nursing's Future to make clear that nurses save lives and improve patient outcomes.

The Truth's "worst" list cited naughty nurse imagery from all over the world, including USA channel's new reality show "Dr. Steve-O," the Sun (U.K.) for promoting a naughty nurse calendar, and various retailers for continuing to sell naughty nurse Halloween costumes.

See the Truth's 2007 Golden Lamp Awards.

The Truth congratulates those responsible for items on the "best" and "honorable mention" lists, and it encourages continued strong efforts from them. The Truth thanks those who have made efforts to remedy their damaging portrayals of nurses. The Truth 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 in 2008.

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 said. She added that this year the Truth has seen an impressive number of nurses across the world advocating in the media for their patients and themselves.


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

See the Truth's Board of Directors, Advisory Panel or About us pages.

For more information, please contact:

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


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