News on Nursing in the Media
Summer 2009 TV Preview
May 24, 2009 -- This summer Hollywood will unveil four new fictional health care television shows, an unusually high number. But what's even more striking is that two of the shows--Showtime's Nurse Jackie (premieres June 8) and TNT's HawthoRNe (June 16)--will be the first significant nurse-focused shows to emerge from Hollywood in more than 15 years. These two shows appear to feature strong central nurse characters: Jackie (right) is a New York City ED nurse played by Edie Falco, and Hawthorne is a chief nursing officer played by Jada Pinkett Smith. And although we can foresee some issues with the two shows, there is cause for hope that they--along with NBC's Mercy, a nurse-focused regular season drama that will reportedly air in mid-season (est. January 2010)--may do what we have been urging Hollywood to do since 2001: convey more of what nurses really do to save lives and improve outcomes. The pilot episode of Nurse Jackie is one of the best (though not most positive) fictional TV portrayals of a nurse that we have seen. The other two new summer shows, Fox's Mental (May 26) and USA's Royal Pains (June 4), are in the traditional physician-centric mold. Mental, about a maverick LA psychiatrist, has one recurring nurse character to support the five physicians who will likely dominate. And Royal Pains is about a brilliant, hunky, good-hearted "concierge doctor" in the Hamptons; it appears to include no nurse characters. Of course, even if the new nurse-focused shows do offer better portrayals of nursing, Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe are summer cable shows, which reach a far more limited audience than regular season broadcast shows and run only half as many episodes. As with any new show, there is no guarantee they will last long. And it would take a lot to counter the hundreds of hours of persuasive disinformation about nursing conveyed to millions around the world by popular hospital shows like House and Grey's Anatomy, to say nothing of the many damaging portrayals in non-health care shows like Law and Order: SVU and Desperate Housewives. In fact, even with the perhaps unprecedented event of two "nurse shows" premiering within a week of each other, there are still more major physician characters than nurse characters in the four summer health shows. Still, there is always hope. Tune in and see what happens. more...
Serve the public trust
Protect the innocent
Uphold public health
March 25, 2009 -- Today Agence France-Presse reported that Japan planned to develop safety standards for the "robot nurses" it hoped would soon assume a significant role in caring for the nation's aging population. The article was headlined "Japan plans robo-nurses in five years: govt." These "service robots" may play an important role in future health care in industrialized nations, probably even by doing some tasks that fall under the general category of "nursing," such as lifting patients. But "robo-nurses" are not college-educated professionals who save lives with their critical thinking skills. Real nurses are. And the media's chronic misuse of the term "nurse" to describe the robots undermines the profession that actually plays a central role in health care. 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...
The Truth About Nursing is a Maryland non-profit corporation. We will soon apply to the IRS for 501(c)(3) charitable organization status. If we receive 501(c)(3) status, then donations we receive (minus the fair market value of the book or any other member gift) will be tax-deductible as allowed by law.
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Thank you for supporting the Truth About Nursing's work!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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