News on Nursing in the Media
May 2007 -- Is "nurses week" (May 6-12) just another signal that nurses don't really have enough power or respect, that they're one of those groups society honors for a week so it feels OK about not really valuing what the group does the rest of the year? Will nursing know it's become a truly respected profession only when it has no more need of "nurses week"? Well, we don't see any media exploring those questions. So we'll celebrate the week by looking at some worthwhile "nurses week" media items we have found, most of which rightly address the lack of understanding that is a critical element in the profession's global problems:
Janice Skot's "Today's nurses are at the forefront of Canadian health care," in The Barrie Examiner (Ontario);
Nancy Banfield Johnson's "Honor the Nation's Nurses This Week," in The Ithaca Journal;
Kathleen Bartholomew's "Nurses struggle against the odds," in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer;
K. Nancoo-Russell's "Nurses should not have to work in fear, official says," in The Freeport News (Bahamas);
Suzanne Gordon's "TV Nurses Don't Represent Reality," in the Yankton Press and Dakotan (SD);
and two photo exhibitions:
"The Faces of Caring: Nurses at Work," presented by the American Journal of Nursing and the New York University School of Nursing in New York through June 5; and
"Just a Nurse," by photographer Earl Dotter and journalist Gordon, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia through May 18.
February 2007 -- Five recent episodes of "ER" that chronicle the short ED stint of nurse Ben Parker illustrate the NBC show's sometimes impressive--but still mostly inadequate--portrayal of nursing. "ER" is the only drama now on television to make any real effort to show that nurses are skilled, intelligent, and important to patient care. These episodes, broadcast over the last four months, highlight a strong, competent man in nursing. They also include examples of ED nurses' life-saving skill, patient advocacy and education, especially by tough, expert major nurse character Sam Taggart. But the show's physician-centric structure--after nearly 13 seasons, there is still just one major nurse character--and assumptions mean that each scene with such commendable features will be outweighed by many others suggesting that physicians provide all important care, including key things nurses really do. Notable examples in these episodes include the countless nurse-free patient handoffs from paramedics. Sometimes one scene sends all these messages at once. Showrunner David Zabel and Lisa Zwerling, MD, wrote, together or individually, three of these episodes; Karen Maser and R. Scott Gemmill are each responsible for one of the others. The episodes each drew roughly 11-13 million U.S. viewers.
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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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