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For immediate release
November 21, 2012
Sandy Summers
410-323-1100 or 443-253-3738

Jon Stewart attacks school nurses; says baseball and apple pie are next

November 21, 2012 -- Hundreds of nurses have written to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to protest a segment in which Stewart claimed that military medics with a few weeks of health care training were "absolutely qualified" for school nurse positions requiring bachelor's degrees.

On October 24, two former U.S. military medics with experience stabilizing wounded soldiers appeared in a Daily Show segment about re-integrating veterans into a civilian workforce. Stewart insisted that the medics were overqualified to be school nurses, and he mocked school nursing as being about "kickball," "bruising," and "tummy aches."

"We honor veterans and we should do all we can to help them find work, but Jon Stewart's remarks reflect the media's deep ignorance of nursing expertise," said Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, executive director of The Truth About Nursing, which has spearheaded the letter-writing campaign. Linda Davis-Alldritt, RN, MA, BSN, president of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), also sent a letter to the show in the hope that in the future it would be "less inclined to minimize the vital role that school nurses play in the delivery of health care services to students."

"Giving nursing jobs to those with only few weeks of health training might be tempting if you don't understand health care," Summers said. "But it would kill millions, because registered nurses are skilled professionals who hold lives in their hands. School nurses need years of university science training because they manage the health of hundreds of students with serious conditions including asthma, diabetes, and allergies. Students have died because no nurse was available."

Summers noted that school nurses also play a key public health role, educating at-risk students and monitoring for disease outbreaks. In 2009, school nurse Mary Pappas of New York City--where The Daily Show is recorded--set in motion the governmental response to the H1N1 flu outbreak, identifying and managing hundreds of students' symptoms and later testifying at a government flu summit. "Plus," joked Summers, "she made a little girl's tummy feel all better!"

On October 26, NASN's Davis-Alldritt sent a letter to the show noting that for more than a century, U.S. school nurses have made it possible for the nation's children, including those with serious chronic conditions, to attend school daily. She explained that by enabling kids to continue learning at a time of critical cognitive development, school nurses greatly improve both health and educational outcomes.

The Daily Show segment followed a comment President Barack Obama had made just two days earlier in the presidential debate in Florida. Obama noted that veteran medics who wanted to become nurses had to "start from scratch," so it would be good to "change those certifications."

Summers responded that the medics' experience would certainly be valuable in trauma settings, and that all students should have a chance to show they merit advanced placement in educational programs. But, she said, "nursing requirements that protect the public can't just be waved away for people with a few weeks of training and some field experience, no matter how heroic."

The Truth About Nursing has asked The Daily Show to make amends, noting that more than 2.5 million viewers saw the show and that many take Stewart very seriously. "They do say it's 'fake news,'" Summers conceded, "but as in this segment, there is often a serious underlying message, and the show is actually a key source of policy information for many viewers."

The nursing group has proposed that the show do another a segment about the difficult reality of school nursing, at a time when budget cuts force many nurses to care for hundreds of additional students even as serious health challenges increase. For example, the producers might seek a student's thoughts on the proposed Student to School Nurse Ratio Improvement Act, which would provide federal grants to reduce student-to-school nurse ratios. Alternatively, Summers suggested, "Jon could ask someone without those silly nursing 'certifications' how to identify the early spread of whooping cough or chicken pox, or how to distinguish a thyroid problem from juvenile diabetes."

For more information about The Truth About Nursing's campaign, please follow this link:

The Truth About Nursing is a 501(c)(3) 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 about us pages.

For more information, please contact:

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

Go to The Truth About Nursing's main page


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