News on Nursing in the Media
June 23, 2005 -- An editorial supervisor for the widely syndicated television show Jeopardy! has informed the Center that the show has included a clue on nursing "in a category called AWARDS in Single Jeopardy!" on the show to be aired on June 23, 2005. The popular show promised in September 2004 to air a nursing-related clue in the future, following the concerns of many nurses about a clue aired on September 7, 2004 implying that nurse practitioners do nothing more than tend to minor ailments. The Center thanks Jeopardy! for following up on its promise--and we urge everyone to tune in for the clue! more...
June 22, 2005 -- Recent press articles across the globe have focused on the case of Jayant Patel, the surgeon whose work at a hospital in Bundaberg, Queensland (Australia), including reported links to the deaths of 87 patients, earned him the nickname "Dr. Death." These pieces include a lengthy story in the June 19 New York Times by Raymond Bonner, "Deaths and a Doctor's Past Transfix Australians," which focuses on the testimony of ICU head nurse Toni Ellen Hoffman about her relentless efforts to protect patients from Patel. Other notable stories--whose headlines alone paint quite a picture--include "Patel 'laughed' at nurses' complaints" in today's The Age (Melbourne), "Dr. Death told nurses he was germ-free" in yesterday's New Zealand Herald, and Meraiah Foley's AP piece "Nurse: Surgeon Had 100 Pct. Complication Rate" in yesterday's Guardian. The pieces show that nurses have clinical expertise, and that at least some are willing to use it to protect their patients from powerful physicians. Sadly, this is not the only recent case in which it has been reported that a physician was recruited to a hospital that was desperate to have him, nurses soon began to issue dire warnings about the physician's incompetence, those in power closed ranks and the nurses were scapegoated, mocked or ignored, while patients continued to develop serious complications and even die in large numbers. Does this mean nursing's focus on "patient advocacy" is pretty much an illusion, as some have suggested? more...
June 17, 2005 -- Today the New York Daily News ran a piece by Robert Schapiro about a new software program that "operates as a journalist" by taking press releases and turning them into instant news stories...oh, we're sorry, that's absurd, isn't it? No major metropolitan newspaper would suggest that some piece of technology could perform the broad range of high-level, judgment-intensive human tasks involved in professional journalism. No, Mr. Schapiro's piece actually reported that the surgical robot Penelope had "operat[ed] as a surgical nurse" in a routine operation at New York-Presbyterian Hospital the day before. Despite at least making clear that the robot is "not meant to replace" scrub nurses, the piece still suggests that Penelope is pretty much doing their job by handing surgeons instruments. That is wrong. OR nurses perform a wide range of critical surgical functions that require advanced scientific training, including monitoring surgical practice, sterile technique, and the patient's condition, intervening in the case of an emergency, and advocating for the patient generally. Nurses use critical thinking to save lives. more...
June 12, 2005 -- Today the New York Times ran a very long piece by Isabel Wilkerson about the struggle of Chicago single mother Angela Whitiker to escape a life of poverty, drugs and violence through a new career in nursing. It's not the usual media depiction, which might suggest that nursing is for those who want to "help people," or even an attractive job option in the midst of today's shortage. No, here nursing is about enduring endless class conflict to make big money. Ms. Whitaker had to put up with the contempt of "snob[bish]" middle-class nursing students who already "knew everything." Now she has a hard, "messy" job with "uppity" fellow nurses, demanding physicians, nursing assistants who "resent her place of privilege," and family members who expect advice on conditions like edema and diabetes, as if she were a physician or something. There is no indication that nursing provides any benefit to patients, or to nurses themselves (except the paycheck). We appreciate the piece's lack of nursing romanticism, and its unusual view of how nursing seems to those near the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. But we also feel that its vision of nurses as snotty, marginally skilled, mercenary clock punchers is a bit unbalanced. more...
June 12, 2005 -- Today the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran a fairly good piece by Joel Dresang about how a partnership of public and private Wisconsin entities plans to use a federal grant to address the critical nursing faculty shortage, which is an important element of the overall nursing shortage. The piece provides a good description of the project, and it highlights some important aspects of the faculty shortage. It might have included some perspective as to potential drawbacks to efforts to address the nursing shortage by aggressive streamlining of nursing education, rather than dealing with the factors that are actually driving the shortage, including poor working conditions and a widespread lack of clinical resources and real respect. more...
June 11, 2005 -- A short unsigned piece posted on the Fiji Times Online today reported that a group of local nursing students had improved the health of a small village in the South Pacific island nation by initiating improvements in the village water and waste disposal systems. The story is an interesting look at a community health nursing intervention in a surfing resort setting where the developed and developing worlds seem to meet. more...
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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Executive Director, The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD USA 21212-2937
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