News on Nursing in the Media
December 4, 2012 -- Mindy Kaling's new Fox sitcom The Mindy Project, which is set at a small obstetrics practice in New York City, is bad for nursing. Kaling's lookin'-for-love OB-GYN character and the other physicians alone provide skilled care -- by coincidence, Kaling's late mother was an OB-GYN -- while the one minor nurse character Morgan Tookers is a goofy ex-convict. Well-intentioned but ignorant, very odd, and a little scary, Morgan doesn't show much health expertise, and he seems to be based mostly on The Janitor from Scrubs. But wait -- tonight's episode, written by Kaling, also includes a grossly inaccurate attack on midwives! In the main plotline, a holistic midwifery practice led by two New Agey men is "stealing" patients from the traditional OB-GYN practice that Mindy and her two male physician colleagues run. Mindy gets the patients back by telling them that midwives have no significant health training or skill and that only physicians can provide real health care to pregnant women, lies the show presents as hard but inescapable truths. The show's physician characters also caricature the midwives as seductive "charlatans" and "quacks" who are hostile to all "Western medicine," including drugs and vaccines. These seem to be lay midwives, but viewers are likely to apply the show's powerful messages to all midwives (it's not clear if Kaling actually knows that many midwives are nurses with graduate degrees). In fairness, the lead midwife in the episode is a strong, clever character who notes that midwifery predates obstetrics. And we realize that the show mocks everyone for one thing or another; Mindy and her physician colleagues are a bit self-involved and socially maladroit. But the episode never offers any serious criticism of physicians as health providers. And this episode is consistent with the economic and territorial fear some physicians seem to have for advanced practice nurses. The episode may also reflect a reactionary sense that traditional professional and educational hierarchies are under threat. And it is telling that Kaling targets male midwives, even though the vast majority of real midwives are female. Of course, showing that reality might have complicated her gender goals, which involve getting her character the respect of her male physician colleagues. And speaking of reality, in the real world all midwives receive years of health care training. And research shows that the care of certified nurse midwives is at least as good as that of physicians overall. We urge the show to avoid further attacks on nursing and midwifery. more... see the film clips and please join our letter-writing campaign by clicking here!
March 13, 2012 -- Today Haaretz (Tel Aviv) reported on a new study in which nurse Sigal Shafran-Tikva examined the factors that lead to violence by Israeli hospital patients, most notably the role of health care staff themselves. Dan Even's article gives a fair account of the main findings of this research, which is of particular importance to nurses and does reflect their perspectives. And the piece includes some good quotes from Shafran-Tikva. Unfortunately, the report does not mention that Shafran-Tikva is a nurse, greatly reducing the piece's potential to improve understanding of nursing. We don't know whether someone publicizing the study downplayed the nursing element, perhaps so the research would be taken more seriously. But the net effect is to bury nursing expertise. And it seems likely that many readers will assume that Shafran-Tikva is some other kind of health professional--particularly since the piece itself does nothing to convey nurses' skill or authority, and instead subtly suggests that nurses are less important than physicians in hospital care. We hope those responsible for this piece will credit nurses for their research in the future. more...
December 1, 2012 -- Today the influential health care weekly Modern Healthcare included an Outliers item about the objections of many nurses, including those at the Truth About Nursing, to an October 24, 2012 segment of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. When two former U.S. military medics appeared in a segment about re-integrating veterans into the civilian workforce, Stewart insisted that the medics were vastly overqualified to be school nurses, and he mocked school nursing as being all about "kickball" and "tummy aches." We thank Modern Healthcare for covering the story, and for the piece's closing suggestion that Stewart "let a school nurse host an episode of 'The Daily Show.' It's not like you need a certification to be a wiseacre TV host." see the article...
Truth executive director Sandy Summers will deliver the keynote speech at the California School Nurses Organization's upcoming 63rd Annual Conference, to be held at San Diego's Town & Country Resort. Sandy will speak on Saturday, February 9, 2013. See you there!
Our book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk will be available again in paperback in a couple weeks! If you donate now, we will send you a copy when the books come in. Saving Lives continues to influence nurses, the media, and members of the public around the world. Also available in digital form through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iTunes. Saving Lives has won an American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award and an award from the international nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau. Many nursing professors use the book as a text to discuss nursing in society. You can get a free copy--hard copy or digital--with every $30 donation to the Truth About Nursing!
Tell colleagues and patients the truth! Our "I Am Your Registered Nurse" poster presents nurses as autonomous professionals on whom patients can rely. The poster explains that nurses are modern science professionals who protect and advocate for patients and empowers nurses to meet those challenges. Designed for the bedside, the poster comforts patients by educating them about the care environment and assuring them that nurses are there to fend for them.
Or consider the Truth's "Can Short Dresses Cause Short Staffing?" poster. This one takes humorous aim at the naughty nurse image that continues to haunt advertisements and other media, especially those aimed at males. The poster connects the naughty nurse image with the broader undervaluation that leads to gross underfunding of nursing education, research, and practice, ultimately threatening patients.
For every dollar that you donate, we'll send you up to 4 posters to hang at your school or workplace. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us how many you'd like and where to send them. Thank you!
Check out the Truth's movie "Nursing: Isn't That Sweet?!" It's all about what happens when nurse Wendy encounters her old high school classmate Jim at a restaurant, many years later--after the two have taken their lives in very different directions! Can Wendy and Jim make a new connection? Or will things get a little ugly? Made using xtranormal software for Halloween 2011, the short video explores some chilling stereotypes that still infect public understanding of nursing. And for a different take on nursing stereotypes, check out the Truth's classic 2005 report "Nursing: Who Knew?" about a groundbreaking study in which leading researchers discover nurses' real contributions for the first time! See the video!
Many nursing professors rely on the extensive and varied materials on the Truth's website to help their students engage with critical issues nurses will face in the future, from their public image to key aspects of nursing education, practice, and advocacy. Since 2001, we have explored and analyzed how the global media and society in general has seen the nursing profession. Join your colleagues and use this material to help plan your curriculum! See the full list...
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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