News on Nursing in the Media
March 16, 2007 --Yesterday's New York Times Crossword puzzle included the clue: "Hosp. workers." Today's solution confirmed that the answer was: "RNS." We assume this is a response to nurses' protests that the February 26 puzzle called for the answer "RNS" with the dismissive clue, "I.C.U. helpers." (We can't say for sure because to our knowledge the Times has not responded to the many nurses who sent it letters of protest.) Certainly, "workers" is a more accurate description of what nurses do than "helpers." But it is also a grudging, bare-minimum recognition, one that seems crafted to be unassailable from any quarter. The clue shows zero willingness to admit, or to educate the public, that nurses actually save lives and improve outcomes under an autonomous practice model. I.C.U. nurses in particular play the central role in the skilled care of critical patients. The new clue will do nothing to remedy the damage done by the earlier one, or to address the widespread undervaluation of nursing. Yesterday's puzzle is credited to Michael Shteyman. The Times puzzle editor is Will Shortz. more... and join our letter-writing campaign!
October 12, 2006 - Today The San Diego Union Tribune ran a fair piece by Associated Press science writer Alicia Chang about "health coaches." Insurers increasingly rely on such coaches to help patients with chronic conditions manage their health at home and stay out of the hospital, thereby cutting costs and improving outcomes. The piece barely manages to note that most of the coaches are nurses, so it fails to discuss why nurses are uniquely qualified to play such key patient education and health management roles, which they have long done without the label "health coach." The piece credits a Colorado physician for the specific care "model" it discusses, which may imply that this kind of work is a recent physician innovation. The piece does provide a good quick snapshot of the work of one nurse/health coach. It occurred to us that nurses--whose professional name is so problematic that some have wondered whether it should be changed--could do worse than to be called "health coaches." Of course, "health coach" does not convey the range of nurses' advanced, life-saving skills, nor their central role in bedside care. In any case, we thank Ms. Chang and the above media entities for reporting on health coaches. more...
October 29, 2006 -- Today the Victoria Times Colonist ran a Canadian Press piece about how advances in robots may change the practice of nursing. The unsigned piece appears to be based mainly on comments from Michael Villeneuve, a researcher with the Canadian Nursing Association. Villeneuve has been studying how technological changes may affect nursing at a time when both the profession and the patient population are aging. He makes some good points, particularly his comment that nurses must actively shape their practices or others will do it for them. Unfortunately, the piece also contains statements that tend to suggest nursing consists of hand-holding and basic custodial tasks. We wish the report could have conveyed what technology can, and cannot, do to help short-staffed nurses with the many nursing tasks that require advanced skills--like assessments conducted while emptying a bedpan. more...
October 20, 2006 --Today Jim Flink, of Kansas City ABC television affiliate KMBC, reported that a local school nurse had been "credited with saving a student's life" by diagnosing a brain aneurysm. The piece highlights school nurses' autonomy and skill. And it shows why they deserve adequate resources, at a time when many face extreme short-staffing despite the increasing number of students who attend with serious health concerns. more...
November 10, 2006 -- Today a Colorado ABC television affiliate ran a good report about an annual middle school forum on alcohol abuse and other issues run by local trauma nurses. Scott Harrison's piece on KRDO (Colorado Springs/Pueblo) highlights a community health initiative that is a good example of nurses trying to prevent some of the serious problems they see by addressing root causes. We commend Mr. Harrison and KRDO for this report. more...
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March 15, 2007 - This week on "LIVE with Regis and Kelly," Kelly Ripa repeatedly promised to act as "sponge bath nurse" to co-host Regis Philbin, who underwent bypass surgery yesterday. On March 12, Philbin told the syndicated show's 4-6 million viewers about his condition. Ripa said she would provide sponge bath services in her "little nursey costume." Today, Ripa told viewers that Philbin's surgery had gone well. She then sent a message to him that "nursey-poo is coming with her sponge." Ripa may be "joking," but viewers of her ABC sitcom "Hope and Faith" know that she does have naughty nurse experience. Predictably, Ripa's comments this week were enthusiastically amplified in press stories about Philbin's condition, from the Associated Press to The New York Post. Ripa's remarks suggest that nurses are brainless bimbos, rather than the college-educated science professionals who are currently keeping Philbin alive. We ask the show to let viewers know what nurses really do for patients. Read more or go straight to our letter-writing campaign!
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Thank you for all of your support over the past year. You are the reason we've had a real impact on public understanding of nursing worldwide. Together, we can strengthen nursing, and give patients the kind of health care they deserve in 2007 and beyond!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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