News on Nursing in the Media
December 8, 2009 -- Tonight's episode of ABC's Scrubs offered a great example of how poor the show's portrayal of nursing has become after the departure of the sole major nurse character, Carla Espinosa, after the last season. It's true that the vast majority of the sitcom's clinical scenes have always depicted nurses as anonymous handmaidens to the physicians who provide virtually all the thinking and all of the important care. But Carla was a respected, competent person who at times conveyed health knowledge, on occasion even teaching the young physician characters. Now, with Carla's departure and the show's shift to a medical school setting for its ninth season, the few nurse appearances tend to be like tonight's, in which a mute, nameless nurse was no more than a wide-eyed prop during a code scene, waiting for the physicians to tell her to get a crash cart, fiddling with the patient's covers, and then scurrying out of the way so the physicians could save the patient by themselves. Of course Scrubs has probably spent more time making fun of physician characters than any other television show in history. But it has still managed to reinforce the core social assumption that physicians are the brilliant masters of all health care, and nurses are no more than their faithful helpers. Tonight's episode, "Our Role Models," was written by Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley, and directed by Gail Mancuso. more...see our film clips and send a letter to Scrubs!
September 11, 2009 -- Recently veteran Texas nurses have published powerful op-eds advocating legislative changes to improve nurses' practice environments--and public health. On August 22, the Houston Chronicle ran an op-ed by Linda Record Srungaram arguing that the recent indictment of two West Texas nurses after they filed a complaint about a physician with the state medical board showed the need for better whistle-blower protections for nurses, who must be able to engage in such advocacy to protect patients. And today, the Austin Statesman published Toni Inglis's piece arguing that primary care shortages require the removal of legislative barriers that still inhibit the work of advanced practice nurses. These op-eds show the importance of nurses speaking up to protect patients and to show the public that nurses are critical thinkers with thoughtful perspectives on health policy. We thank those responsible for the op-eds. more...
September 2, 2009 -- Today the New York Daily News published a very good report by Juan Gonzalez about the reaction of New York City school nurses to the city's plan to vaccinate elementary students for H1N1 flu in the fall and winter. The article includes substantial comment from local nursing union leader Judith Arroyo. She reportedly liked much of the plan but urged the city to consider having special traveling teams perform the vaccinations, in order to avoid overwhelming school nurses who already have their hands full with their usual case load. The piece might have noted that the critical shortage of school nurses will likely make the situation even harder. But the piece does give a good sense of the role school nurses will play in the city's flu plans. And perhaps the best part of the report is Gonzalez's pointed statement that "the front-line nurses--who were not consulted by the city--will be crucial this fall and winter to containing the epidemic and keeping schools open." We thank Gonzalez and the Daily News. more...
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January 2010 -- Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk has been named a Book of the Year, one of the "most valuable texts of 2009," by the American Journal of Nursing. As announced in this month's issue of the leading journal, Saving Lives was one of the books chosen in the Public Interest and Creative Works category. Judge Karen Roush noted that Saving Lives "provides readers with specific ideas on how to influence the media that could result in a more accurate perception of nursing that improves health care for everyone." She also praised the book's "in-depth comprehensive coverage of the issue" and "clear, well-organized writing." The Truth congratulates all of the book award winners, and thanks Ms. Roush and AJN. See the full awards... or order the book now.
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The Truth About Nursing is an international non-profit organization based in Baltimore that seeks to help the public understand the central role nurses play in health care. The Truth promotes more accurate media portrayals of nurses and greater use of nurses as expert sources. The group is led by Sandy Summers, co-author of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk.
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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