News on Nursing in the Media
Possible success--jury's still out!
May 31, 2013 -- Truth About Nursing supporters recently told us about a television commercial being aired in the southern United States by American Family Care, an aggressively expanding chain of urgent care clinics that plans to have more than 140 locations in 26 states by the end of this year. The ad featured two people texting back and forth about where to seek health care. At the end, one texter recommended that the other go to American Family Care because there you get to see "a doctor, not a nurse." We could not locate the commercial (we created the image above based on what people told us the ad was like), but American Family Care itself was not hard to find. We placed about 7 calls, 1 per day, to Felicia Fortune, the corporation's director of marketing. She never returned any calls. Then we placed a call to company CEO Bruce Irwin and left a detailed message. American Family Care's chief medical officer Glenn Harnett returned our call and had a long discussion with Truth executive director Sandy Summers--you can listen to a recap of that phone call here in an mp3 (9 min). Harnett insisted that the care provided by physicians was better than that provided by APRNs based on the length of physicians' formal education. However, APRNS typically get as much formal health science education--4 years--as physicians do, and in any case a mountain of research in recent decades has shown that if either of the two professions has better patient outcomes, it's nurses. Harnett was not interested in the research, despite the strong and increasing emphasis on evidence-based practice in modern health care. He did, however, tell Sandy that American Family Care would pull the ad. We thanked him. Harnett said the company would replace it with an ad that went something like this: "At American Family Care, we care about you. That's why when you come to our clinics, you get to see a physician." We told him that isn't much better, since it implies that the people you're not seeing--which in the quick clinic context would only be APRNs--are inferior to the ones you are seeing. Sadly, Harnett did not see our point. And he refused to let us help the company create an ad that was not offensive or to send us a link to the new ad once it was done. By the way, we see that the company's "staff openings" section currently lists four (4) Family Nurse Practitioner positions in Alabama--we certainly hope the company "cares about" its Alabama customers as much as the others! Anyway, if you see a new version of the company's ad or related marketing efforts, please send us a copy or write to us at email@example.com. Thanks very much!!
December 21, 2012 -- Recent obituaries for two extraordinary nursing leaders show how far nursing has come in the last half-century and, to some extent, how far it has yet to go. On June 9, the Baltimore Sun published Frederick Rasmussen's long, generally good obituary for Elizabeth Scanlan Trump, the co-founder and longtime nursing director of the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center, arguably the finest trauma center in the world. The piece portrays Scanlan Trump as "the first trauma nurse" and as the driven "full partner" of the pioneering trauma surgeon R Adams Cowley. Cowley is generally given sole credit for founding the Trauma Center. The piece has good quotes from the Trauma Center's current heads of nursing and medicine, as well as from Cowley's widow. They make clear that Scanlan Trump was a remarkable nurse who fought to establish the Trauma Center and to improve nursing education, though we could have used more detail on that and Trump's role as a nurse manager. The obituary also has a couple bits of handmaiden imagery that are especially unfortunate for a piece about someone so fierce. We noticed that the Trauma Center bears Cowley's name alone, though the obituary suggests that Scanlan Trump effectively co-founded it. We reached out to the chief nursing officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center and the Vice President of Nursing of the Shock Trauma Center and suggested that the hospital consider adding Scanlan-Trump's name. In a cordial meeting, CNO Lisa Rowen, RN, DNSc, and Shock Trauma VP of Nursing and Operations Karen Doyle, RN, MS, MBA, persuaded us that Scanlan-Trump's contributions, though great, did not merit that recognition in terms of trauma care innovation. However, the nursing leaders did agree to take other permanent steps to highlight Scanlan Trump's contributions to nursing, including naming one of the conference rooms in Shock Trauma's new trauma tower after her. And today, the New York Times ran a shorter but very good obituary by Daniel Slotnick for Vernice Ferguson. She "fought for greater opportunities, higher wages and more respect for nurses as a longtime chief nursing officer" of what became the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), supervising more than 60,000 nurses. When Ferguson left in 1992, after 12 years, the number of VA nurses with at least a bachelor's degree had more than doubled. Ferguson's nursing career required a bit of drive as well. When the African-American graduated from the nursing program at New York University in 1950 with an academic prize, the director of nursing reportedly refused to shake her hand. The piece has several telling quotes from Ferguson, and it effectively conveys the male-physician-dominated environment that Ferguson worked hard to change. The item also notes that Ferguson conducted and supervised nursing research, including at the National Institutes of Health; we could have used more detail on those aspects of her career. But on the whole, both obituaries are powerful reminders that nurses can better their profession--and the world. more...
September 1, 2012 -- Today the Los Angeles Times ran a good tribute by prominent columnist Steve Lopez to the nurses who recently cared for him after his heart stopped following knee-replacement surgery at the University of Southern California's Keck Hospital. The piece has its share of generic help 'n' comfort imagery, referring to the nurses with phrases like "dedication and compassion," "noble profession," and "uncelebrated soldiers." Those tend to reinforce the angel image of nursing, masking the fact that nurses are college-educated professionals who save lives and arguably undermining nurses' claims to the tangible resources they need. Fortunately, the column does a lot to counter that impression, not least of which is the sub-head's statement that "an alert nurse's quick action save[d] the columnist's life." In addition to explaining how that happened--CPR by a post-op nurse--Lopez discusses the professional and personal histories of three nurses who cared for him, in the process giving readers a sense of nurses' professional training and skills (e.g., counseling patients and "translating doctor-speak") as well as their gender and cultural diversity. Lopez even notes that one of the nurses is about to start a master's degree program to become an "acute care nurse practitioner." So on the whole, despite some lingering sense that nurses are lofty spiritual beings, Lopez's "note of gratitude to nurses" really is a fitting tribute to the profession. We thank him and the Los Angeles Times.
May 18, 2013 -- In the past month the influential health industry magazine Modern Healthcare quoted Truth executive director Sandy Summers in two pieces about recent efforts to help former medics from the U.S. military become registered nurses. The pieces followed our campaign against The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for wrongly telling millions of viewers that medics were overqualified for school nursing, which Stewart suggested involved little more than boo-boos and Band-Aids. See "Struggles for ex-military," posted on May 18, 2013, and "Feds launch nursing program aimed at vets," from April 29, 2013.
May 2013 -- The Truth congratulates new Huffington Post columnist/blogger Mona Shattell, RN, PhD, who writes about health care and nursing's role in it. Mona is an associate professor at DePaul University in Chicago. In March, one of her columns, "Hooters Opens Nursing School," covered the Truth's work. We were so excited about the way Mona uses her blog to educate the world about the value of nursing that we recruited her to serve on our advisory panel. Check out Mona's blog at the Huffington Post!
Truth executive director Sandy Summers will deliver the keynote speech at the Annual Conference of the Registered Nurses Association in Michigan (RN-AIM) to be held in Traverse City, Michigan. Sandy will speak on the morning of September 26, 2013. Hope to see you there!
Our book Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk is available again! If you donate now, we will send you a copy. Saving Lives continues to influence nurses, the media, and members of the public around the world. You can also get the paperback from Amazon. Saving Lives is 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!
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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