The 2010 Truth About Nursing Awards
The Truth About Nursing Awards rank the best and worst media portrayals of nursing that we've seen in 2010.
This show at times wrongly suggested that physicians manage nurses, but the lead character, New York ED nurse Jackie Peyton, remained a tough clinical virtuoso who used creative and effective ways to help patients lead better lives or find lasting peace, despite her own ethical and personal issues.
This show struggled in portraying nurse-physician relations, but lead character Veronica Callahan, a troubled Iraq War veteran, ably led a crew of Jersey City hospital nurses who displayed strong psychosocial skills and fought for patients in innovative ways; sadly, the show was canceled in May at the end of its first season.
Laura Stokowski, Medscape, "A Letter to Hollywood: Nurses Are Not Handmaidens," March 12;
The 36,000 nurses of Wales, for adopting distinctive, professional uniforms, as reported in "Nurses start wearing national uniform in Wales: Nurses and midwives at a hospital in west Wales have become the first to start wearing new national uniforms," BBC News, April 8;
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation, for smoking cessation advocacy, as reported in "New Zealand Nurses Organisation celebrate World Smokefree Day," Channel 9 TV (Dunedin) web site, May 28;
The Egyptian Nurses Union, for efforts to reduce nursing stereotypes on television, as reported in "Nurses Union demands Ghada Abd Al Riziq's drama be stopped," Al Bawaba (Amman, Jordan), August 16;
The Nursing Times (UK), for its "A Seat on the Board" campaign, which seeks to ensure that at least one nurse sits on the board of each National Health Service consortium, as described in "Back our fight to get nurses onto boards," Jenni Middleton, The Nursing Times, December 7;
Diana Mason and Barbara Glickstein, WBAI New York, HealthStyles, weekly radio show that often relies on nursing expertise in discussing key health issues.
This Pennsylvania oncology nurse continues to offer powerful, articulate commentary in prominent places about her nursing experiences and her perspectives on key health policy issues.
Stacey Burling, The Philadelphia Inquirer, "More nurses, less death," April 20;
Katie Weidenboerner, The Courier-Express (DuBois, PA),"NICU nurse invents baby aid," April 10;
Jane Elliott, BBC News, "Bringing music medicine to the NHS," January 1;
ABC-15 TV (Phoenix, AZ), "How a 'cooling blanket' is saving lives at Valley hospital," April 15;
Renee Dudley, The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), "Nurse's influence has wide reach: Dean of nursing college takes mental health curriculum to Liberia," December 12;
Tony Allen, publicist for the University of Nevada School of Nursing (UNLV), for placing a number of pieces in the media about nursing in Nevada, especially articles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
Although this show continued to occasionally reinforce nursing stereotypes, its portrayal of strong, expert chief nursing officer Christina Hawthorne and several skilled staff nurses at a Richmond hospital remained generally helpful.
Sunnie Bell, Readers Digest, "She whispered, 'When is my doctor coming?' 'Soon, I lied,'" and other parts of "Doctors Confess Their Fatal Mistakes," Joe Kita, October;
Chris Brooke, The Daily Mail (UK), "Woman, 26, died of DVT after being 'fobbed off' by nurse who relied too much on computerised guide," November 20.
Cindy George, The Houston Chronicle, "Sunday Q&A: Heat gets to you? Here's how to survive," June 13;
KJ Lewis, Today (University of Central Florida news site), "Former ‘Dr. G’ Cast Member Becomes Nurse," August 2;
Pauline W. Chen, The New York Times, "Nurses' Role in the Future of Health Care," November 18;
Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press, "Doctor shortage? 28 states may expand nurses' role," April 15.
Despite a couple fleeting portrayals in which nurse characters displayed health knowledge, this popular hospital drama generally ignored nursing except for the occasional insult--and the fact that the show's heroic physician characters regularly performed critical tasks that nurses do in real life.
This year included a few appearances from the snarky nurse Jeffrey, who appeared to have no real clinical role, but overall the show continued to present its nurses as anonymous physician lackeys and to have the brilliant Greg House and his physician team perform important nursing tasks.
This show had one nurse character, the midwife (and receptionist!) Dell Parker, and he occasionally displayed some skill; but the show killed him off in May, in a plotline in which Dell ecstatically announced that he had been admitted to medical school, reinforcing the wannabe physician stereotype real advanced practice nurses face.
A woman who had lost weight by dancing appeared dressed in a short white nurse's dress, partly unbuttoned her top, and led Dr. Mehmet Oz and a group of similarly attired "nurses" in some "sexy" dancing, reinforcing a slew of stereotypes, including the handmaiden and the naughty nurse; despite global press coverage of the Truth's campaign about the segment, the celebrity surgeon did nothing to make amends and was able to muster only an off-air statement with a quasi-apology.
This eight-part documentary about the work and personal lives of health care workers at Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women's, and Children's hospitals was almost as physician-centric as Wrong's previous "greatest hospitals" efforts Hopkins 24/7 (2000) and Hopkins (2008), focusing on two dozen physicians (many of them surgeons) and generally presenting them as the brilliant providers of all meaningful health care; this series did actually include two nurses and allow us fleeting glimpses of their expertise, but it focusing mainly on their personal lives.
This female buddy series focuses on a police detective and a physician medical examiner, but this episode also goes out of its way to mock a male nurse as submissive and unmanly because he's way too in touch with his feminine side and seems to want to play the traditional female role in a relationship with the detective.
In an episode intended to highlight the nationwide backlog in analyzing rape kits, the long-running crime drama offered a portrayal of a sexual assault forensic nurse; sadly, the nameless nurse was presented as an insensitive technician who carefully collected evidence but uttered not one word to the distraught rape victim, even when she hurt the patient--no warning, no apology, no explanation--while a detective provided the only psychosocial care we saw.