News on Nursing in the Media
A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.
March 16, 2009 -- The main patient in tonight's episode of Fox's House was a nurse who believed that a cat tended to sit with those who were about to die--including, recently, the nurse herself. That may not sound like a promising vehicle for House to improve its abysmal portrayal of nursing. But the show actually presents the nurse as someone with health knowledge. And her search for meaning in faith, for some reason in tragic events, is a real counterpoint to House's cold rationality. Indeed, despite the obvious potential for mockery in the cat angle, the mighty House treats the nurse with considerable respect--he seems to care what she thinks, or at least to find her views unnerving. Of course, the nurse plays no real clinical role in the episode, and no other nurses do either. So the episode suggests, as usual, that physicians provide all important care in hospital settings, including all meaningful psychosocial and physical care. Still, any suggestion that intelligent life resides in a nurse is a welcome departure for House (and for the episode's writer Peter Blake, who also penned a November 2005 House episode that was notable for its physician glorification and its casual contempt for other health professions). Tonight's episode, "Here Kitty," drew 13.1 million U.S. viewers. more... see the relevant film clips... and please join our letter writing campaign!
March 2009 -- This month we found an unusually high number of press articles from the U.S. and U.K. highlighting nurse-led innovations in health care. A March 1st Birmingham News (AL) story by Anna Velasco profiles a nurse who has founded and managed a health clinic for the homeless under an interstate highway bridge. A March 21 BBC News article by Jane Elliott describes the achievements of a pioneering nurse researcher who showed how to treat deadly bedsores in the 1950's. A March 23 article by Chris Segal in the Panama City News Herald (FL) reports that a local nurse appears on national television annually to raise awareness of the dangers posed by Spring Break, especially those associated with alcohol abuse. And Dee Adcock's March 24 report in the Dorset Echo (U.K.) discusses the work of a group of nursing students to raise awareness of post-natal depression. Some of these pieces are brief, and some have minor problems, but all convey that nurses are critical thinkers who create and implement new care systems that improve patient outcomes. We salute those responsible for the articles. more...
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Media images of health care--like the ones on ABC's popular "Grey's Anatomy"--have an important effect on the nursing profession. Many nurses and nursing students feel frustrated when influential media products undervalue nurses. But how can we change what the media tells the public about nursing? Sandy Summers has led high-profile efforts to promote more accurate and robust depictions of nursing since 2001. She has shared her insights in dynamic presentations to groups across North America. She empowers nurses and teaches them how to shape their image into one that reflects the profession's true value. When nurses get the respect they deserve, they will attract more resources for nursing practice, education, and research, so we can resolve the nursing shortage. Sign Sandy up for your next conference, nurses' week celebration, or gala event! Click here for more details.
Our new book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk uses striking examples and an irreverent style to explore nursing stereotypes from TV shows to the news media. We hope every nurse will read it and consider the role the media plays in nursing today--and how we can improve the profession's public image. But the book also explains nursing in compelling terms to the public and decision-makers. We want as many non-nurses as possible to read it. Here are some ideas to spread the word about nursing and the media:
We have created two provocative new flyers, and if you like them, please help us distribute them as widely as possible. The "Not What They Say I Am" flyer sends a message that many media depictions of nurses are not accurate and that nurses object to them, in part because they undermine nurses' claims to adequate resources. This is a key message of the Truth About Nursing, and one explored in detail in our new book Saving Lives. The ironic "Hooray for Hollywood" flyer sends the message that, in our view, there has been little for nurses to cheer about in recent Hollywood depictions of their work. Popular TV shows like "House" and "Grey's Anatomy" have repeatedly offered inaccurate and damaging images of nursing, and we hope the flyer will cause those who see it to reconsider those images. The small print on the flyers directs people to our book and The Truth's website to learn more. see the full posters and links for downloading and or request flyers be sent to you...
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Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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