News on Nursing in the Media
July 2011 -- NBC's fall prime time schedule includes a new half-hour sitcom called Whitney, starring comic Whitney Cummings, who has appeared on the E! late night show Chelsea Lately. Whitney seems to be based on Cummings's stand-up themes (a little like the classic Seinfeld). The new show focuses on the lead character's relationship with her boyfriend Alex, and one preview clip finds Whitney seducing Alex with a naughty nurse outfit. This seems to be working out well, until Alex falls while trying to get out of his pants, hits his head on a table, and loses consciousness. They end up in the emergency department, where a standoffish "real" nurse seems to take Whitney for a sex worker and bars her from going back with her injured boyfriend (who soon recovers anyway!). We could interpret the plotline as a rejection of the naughty nurse and even an implication that the image threatens public health. Whitney's outfit sets in motion events that hurt Alex and impair her ability to be with him, and the "real" nurse expresses contempt for Whitney. But we think the message that will stay with most viewers of this show is that the attractive Cummings really spends a pretty long time flirting and preening in her revealing "nurse" outfit. The "real" nurse doesn't display any expertise, and to the extent she shows authority, it's more as a petty hospital bureaucrat, barring a loved one from seeing a patient--a common example of the modern battleaxe stereotype. We urge NBC and the show creators to see if they can offer observations on modern romance without using witless nursing stereotypes. more...and please join our letter-writing campaign!
November 2010 -- Three episodes of ABC's Grey's Anatomy airing this month include plotlines that illustrate the show's occasionally sympathetic but mostly contemptuous portrayal of nursing. The November 18 episode includes a limited but fairly good portrayal of a nurse--as a patient's mother. This nurse is knowledgeable and a strong advocate for her critically ill son. Surprisingly, the skilled surgical resident Meredith Grey treats the nurse's views with respect. Popular hospital shows seem willing to present nurses as family members who know and do more than the average person, as in a comparable April 2008 episode of Fox's House in which a patient's wife (a nurse) resuscitated him. But perhaps having expert nurses act as clinical colleagues of the physician characters on a regular basis would be a threat to the natural order. The most popular shows, like Grey's, generally limit nurse characters to holding and fetching objects and saying "yes, doctor!" Meanwhile, the dominant physician characters spend a lot of time doing nursing work. In the November 18 Grey's episode, Meredith and fellow resident Alex Karev appear to be the only hospital workers who provide any significant care to the nurse's son--no practicing nurse appears. The episodes airing November 4 and 11 likewise showcase physician nursing, as residents Cristina Yang and Jackson Avery provide skilled monitoring of patients. The obvious effect is that physicians get credit for the work of nurses. And the November 4 episode includes another of the show's occasional naughty nurse insults. In that episode, attending Mark Sloane says that his friend Callie deserves better than "off-brand crap" cupcakes for her bon voyage party because it's not just a "baby shower for some nurse who couldn't keep her knees together." Grey's Anatomy's fleeting efforts to present nurses as sentient beings are admirable, but they are overwhelmed by the show's relentless indications that nurses are low-skilled physician helpers. more...and see the film clips!
XV International Research Nursing
Encuentro Internacional de Investigación en Enfermería
November 16, 2011
July 16, 2011 -- The 2010 edition of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk now sells for $10 as a paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble! Plus, the Apple iBook and B&N Nook editions are priced at less than $7! The 2010 edition of Saving Lives has a new foreword by bestselling nurse author Echo Heron. And it is revised and expanded, discussing Nurse Jackie and other new shows, and featuring updated information throughout. You can also get an author-signed paperback copy when you become a member of the Truth or renew your membership for $30 (click here!). Please help support the Truth's effort to change how the world thinks about nursing today. These affordably-priced editions make great gifts for colleagues, students, or even to help family and friends understand the value of what nurses do. All royalties for the multiple award-winning book go directly to support non-profit nursing advocacy work. Thank you!
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.
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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.
Thank you for supporting the Truth About Nursing's work!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Founder and Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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