News on Nursing in the Media
October 27, 2006 - Today, just before Halloween, Lion's Gate and Twisted Pictures are releasing "Saw III," the third installment in a low-budget but very successful horror movie franchise. Like the two prior films, "Saw III" will be promoted through a real Halloween Blood Drive ("This Halloween, Give 'Til It Hurts"). To that end, Lion's Gate has distributed eye-catching blood drive posters. Unfortunately, the posters feature sexy/scary "naughty nurse" imagery. We commend the film companies for the blood drives, which the film's web site claims collected enough in 2004 and 2005 to save thousands of lives. But we urge the companies to stop promoting that effort with images that degrade the very professionals who use the blood collected to save those lives. Read more and send our instant letter!
October 31, 2006 -- The Arizona media has been covering the Center's efforts to persuade Tempe's Heart Attack Grill to stop using "naughty nurse" waitresses. The Phoenix NBC television affiliate (KPNX) ran a story yesterday, and the ABC affiliate (KNXV) ran one on Oct. 27, with a similar piece appearing in that day's East Valley Tribune. (See the clips, articles and Center press release.) These stories confirm that a key part of the half-dressed female "nurses"' job at the Grill is "role playing": helping diners with "heart attacks," pushing the overfed in wheelchairs, sitting on their laps. But why stop the "fun" there? Grill owner "Dr. Jon" is fully dressed in a lab coat and tie, but why not a skimpy "physician" outfit for him? And how about hospital gowns for Grill customers? Mind the back--it gets a little chilly! Every day can be Hospital Halloween! Meanwhile, Grill supporters have directed angry name-calling and sex-related obscenities at the Center. "Dr. Jon" has threatened to turn a fire hose on any nurse distributing leaflets outside the restaurant. What would Hippocrates say about such aggression? But even if the Grill is just one restaurant having "fun," its imagery is part of a relentless stream from the advertising, entertainment, and hospitality industries that suggests nursing is about hot females bestowing sexual favors. Even humor and fantasy images affect how people act. That's why advertisers spend billions on them. Please let the Grill know that nurses need respect to get the resources it will take to resolve the nursing shortage--and save real heart attack victims. Read our original story, or send our instant letter now! Thank you.
October 15, 2006 - A recent print ad campaign for Schick's Quattro Titanium razor featured an injured male skateboarder in a research facility bed. He was surrounded by white-coated researchers--and three naughty "nurses" giving him what the ad accurately calls "more intensive care." Schick, which sponsors the X Games, placed the ad in recent issues of Sports Illustrated. The company also distributed the ad at college bookstores, perhaps as an inspiration to nursing students. John Wergeles, Schick's Group Business Director for Men's Systems, assured us that Schick did not mean to insult nurses. He said the campaign was ending, but promised that Schick would not revive it in the future, which might otherwise occur. Mr. Wergeles also said he would consult us about any future ads that involved "nurses." We thank Schick for its responsiveness to nurses' concerns. read the full review...
October 2006 -- Save the First Dance for You is a how-to manual nurses can use to prevent and cure burnout, helping their patients by helping themselves. Doris Young's new book encourages us to look at the bigger picture of our lives. That new perspective can help us climb up from the bottom of Maslow's pyramid and aim for the top level of self-actualization. In this voyage, we must determine which of our current thinking and behavior patterns hold us back and which move us forward. We learn to assert control over our own lives, instead of simply accepting whatever positions others place us in, especially when they conflict with our own values and principles. The book can serve as a wonderful tool to help us find the strength in each of us, and use it to empower ourselves and our profession. Nurses and their patients need what Doris Young's important book offers. read the full review...
August 29, 2006 -- Today a brief United Press International item reported that a California advocacy group has created a computer game called "Nurse Avenger." The game aims to build support among "20-somethings" for a state universal health care bill. Game players try to save the state billions by fighting "mobster-styled insurance company and HMO representatives trying to kill a patient in a hospital bed." For a "special attack" on the HMO reps, players click on the icon of the "Nurse Avenger," a figure the piece describes as a "superhero." We're uncomfortable with the game's central activity: shooting the evil HMO reps. But it does present nurses as fighters protecting patients from the threats of the managed care era. more...
In its 12th season, "ER" seemed less inclined to die than to fade away. With all the NBC show's original characters gone, it seemed at times to struggle for ideas. Yet many characters and plots remained compelling, and the show was still popular by any fair measure. It was still the only network hospital drama with much dramatic depth or understanding of real issues in modern health care, including care in conflict zones like Iraq and Darfur. The big news for nursing was the six-episode arc of formidable nurse manager Eve Peyton, played by Kristen Johnston. Despite Peyton's bizarrely unconvincing exit (in which she attacked a patient), her episodes presented an unprecedented portrait of a mostly autonomous nursing leader who was more or less the clinical peer of the attending physicians. Because of that, and other efforts to show that nurses are skilled and integral to ED care, we have given the show's 12th season a "fair" rating for nursing--the highest we have ever given any serial television show. However, there was still only one major regular nurse character (Sam Taggart). And the show remained focused on the training and practice of its many physician characters. They provided the vast majority of the care the show portrayed as important, including tasks that nurses do in real life. Of course, the show is far better than the abysmal "House" and "Grey's Anatomy," which see nurses as petulant dimwits who are irrelevant to serious care. But "ER" still has a long way to go. see the full review...
July 4, 2006 -- Recent articles have described ambitious efforts by U.S. nurses to improve working conditions and patient care by filing lawsuits. On June 20, Reuters reported that nurses backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had filed antitrust suits in four U.S. cities alleging that about 20 hospital systems had unlawfully "conspired to depress wages for nurses amid a national shortage." Kim Dixon's fairly short piece, "US hospitals sued in class action over nurse pay," lays out different perspectives on the suit. It cites experts who contend that resolving the shortage will require more than higher pay. But it fails to quote a single nurse, opting for expert comment from a physician. An article posted today on the Women's eNews site, Allison Stevens's "Nurses Claim Hospitals Conspire to Keep Pay Low," examines the four suits at greater length. Stevens' piece includes more detail about the litigation, which may expand to other cities, and it focuses more closely on the extent to which the claims stem from gender discrimination. And a short June 16 piece in the Business Review (Albany), "Federal standards for Medicare funding sparks lawsuit," reports that the American Nurses Association and two state affiliates have filed suit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That suit alleges that HHS has illegally delegated its authority to accredit hospitals for participation in Medicare to the private Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), resulting in inadequate nurse staffing levels. These stories raise the larger issue of whether the legal system can be an effective vehicle to pursue broad, systemic improvements in nursing practice environments. Whatever the answer to that question--and whatever the merits of these specific suits--it seems to us that this is patient advocacy. more...
July 14, 2006 -- Today the weekly PBS television show "NOW" ran a segment about U.S. health worker participation in executions. "Do No Harm?", by senior correspondent Maria Hinojosa and producer Michelle Smawley, is accompanied by a wealth of related materials on the PBS web site. These include a web-only extended interview with "Nurse Karen," a Georgia nurse who has participated in 14 executions but who, like virtually all such health workers, fears the disclosure of her identity. The materials present a balanced and thoughtful picture of health worker participation in executions, which, broadly speaking, violates nursing and physician ethics. The 38 U.S. states that execute prisoners using lethal injection seem to have trouble finding health professionals willing to help, even as judicial decisions addressing whether the practice is "cruel and unusual" punishment are increasing the need for such personnel. The PBS materials give greater weight to the ethical issues and consequences for physicians. And they consult only physician experts on broad policy issues, primarily Harvard physician and author Atul Gawande. We assume "Nurse Karen" received attention because she was the only one willing to speak on camera. But the NOW story does recognize the extent to which the issues involve nurses to a surprising degree. In addition to the "Nurse Karen" quotes, the materials include nurses in their accounts of executions. And they mostly avoid direct suggestions that the nurses report to physicians. A posted excerpt from a recent medical journal article by Gawande includes an interesting account of the management of an execution by an authoritative "nurse-in-charge" for a state penitentiary. And the PBS pieces include statements that the American Nurses Association's Code of Ethics bars nurse involvement in executions. Indeed, we count it as a victory that a mainstream press piece simply tells the public that nursing ethics exist. We thank those responsible for this piece. more...
July 25, 2006 -- In two recent broadsides in major U.K. papers, anonymous physicians essentially argue that nursing must be saved from itself. They are "Are nurses angels? I don't think so," a piece by an unnamed male physician in the July 18 Daily Mail, and "Why nurses are no angels," a June 20 piece by "Lucy Chapman," a pseudonym, that appeared in the Independent and the Belfast Telegraph. These paternalistic pieces urge the National Health Service (NHS) to stop assigning nurses new management and clinical roles, a practice that has supposedly helped produce a generation of nurses who are stupid, uncaring, lazy, and too eager to dump everything on physicians, while wrongly seeking the same high status. Instead, the pieces argue, nurses should focus on the basic caring and hygiene tasks the physicians think define nursing. To its credit, the Daily Mail today ran responses from nurses, who argue that they are hardworking and committed but overworked. The two physician op-eds purport to be by authors of different genders. But their similarities suggest that they were written by the same person or group. Toward the end of each piece, the op-eds reach what we believe is their main goal: to discourage the U.K. government from allowing nurses to move into clinical roles that have traditionally been the exclusive province of physicians. But the existing research shows that the care of advanced practice nurses is at least as good as that of physicians. So one strategy to prevent the expansion of nursing roles is to paint current bedside nurses as dense, uncaring slackers, and argue that a key cause is misguided efforts to encourage them to assume new roles. Needless to say, then, those little nurses must be kept far away from the important physician domain. more...
September 29, 2006 -- For months The Baltimore Sun has included a sidebar feature in its weekly Health & Science section called "Names in the news." This feature includes short accounts of the "[g]rants, studies and appointments" of local figures in health care and science. Unsurprisingly, there tends to be more news about physicians than about any other group. But we have been impressed to see that the feature regularly includes reports about nurses at local hospitals and schools. Today, the feature has a short item reporting that University of Maryland nursing Dean Janet D. Allan, PhD, RN, FAAN, has been elected to the board of directors of the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research. On September 15, the feature included a piece explaining that Johns Hopkins nursing professor Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN, has been named the 2006 Pathfinder Distinguished Researcher by the Friends of the National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR) for her work on intimate partner violence. We commend the Sun for making the public more aware of nursing achievements. And since the feature appears to be based on press releases from the hospitals and schools, it underlines the importance of reaching out to the media to make it aware of those achievements on a regular basis. more...
Please join all our letter-writing campaigns, especially our American Medical Association campaign, which encourages the AMA to stop impugning the care delivered by advanced practice registered nurses, and our Johnson & Johnson campaign, which addresses the company's focus on emotional "angel" imagery in its influential television ads. Thank you!
In order to continue speaking honestly about media images of nursing--even if it displeases major corporations and their nursing allies--the Center needs your help. Help us show that there is a place for independent voices in nursing. Help us overcome the limited "angel" and handmaiden images that have contributed to the nursing crisis. We must tell the public that nurses save lives and improve patient outcomes, so we can get the resources we need to resolve the nursing shortage. Please help us do that by making a contribution today.
The Center for Nursing Advocacy fights inaccurate media images of nursing because those images affect how decision-makers and members of the public value the profession. For most people, the media is the major source of information about nursing. But because the profession's image is so inaccurate and degraded, decision-makers tend not to fully fund nursing clinical practice, education or research. Short-staffing is one result. If we want to resolve the global nursing crisis, we must change the way the world thinks about nursing. Nurses save lives and improve outcomes every day, but few people outside nursing know that. Right now the Center has the resources to address a few of the most influential images of nursing. But we need far more funding to do what really needs to be done, including working proactively to create better images.
The Center stands ready and willing to lead that effort. But the tiny staff that donates almost all of its Center labor cannot do this without your help. We need money to pay for office supplies, internet fees, and other expenses. Most importantly, the long-term sustainability of the Center depends on core staff receiving a living wage. Please help us improve the nursing image by making a generous contribution to the Center today. And when you join, you will get cool free gifts, including t-shirts. Please join or renew your membership today. Thank you for your help. When the Center has a success, all of our supporting members should feel very proud, because we absolutely cannot do this without you. See our free member gifts.
Can you help us by circulating our brochures and asking your colleagues and friends to become donating members of the Center? If so, please email me and let me know how many brochures you would like, and we'll send them out to you. Thank you!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD USA 21212-2937
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