"The View" insults nursing

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    "The View" doesn't seem to include nursing

    June 16, 2003 -- Tonight's prime time episode of ABC's "The View," which
    consisted of a "His and Her Body Test" designed to impart basic health
    information, included an attack on nursing, with co-host Meredith Vieira
    appearing disguised as an "ugly nurse"--as Vieira herself put it in
    previews--for comic interactions with passersby in a New York mall,
    including one segment in which Vieira cared for a woman's "shin splints"
    by drawing a happy face on her leg.

    The episode was structured around a series of multiple choice questions on health issues, with an unsurprising focus on sexuality, and it did convey some useful information. The talk show's four co-hosts and a few celebrity guests offered serious and joking answers to the test questions. A rotating crew of physicians served as quizmasters, supplying the correct answers and graciously accepting praise (such as Vieira's comment that those with the highest total quiz scores were so smart they should have gone to medical school), as well as the other benefits of appearing on national television. Of course, the lack of any real nurses on a show devoted to the patient education and preventative care at which they excel, though unfortunate, is hardly unusual in a media environment still dominated by physician-centric views.

    But what made the episode so anti-nurse was Vieira's "ugly nurse" segments. In contrast to the high regard the show displayed for the articulate, telegenic physicians, the "ugly nurse"'s appearance was cosmetically sabotaged. ("The View"'s web site describes these segments as Ms. Vieira "harassing unsuspecting folks at New York's Nanuet Mall when she went undercover disguised as a nurse.") The "ugly nurse" displayed no real expertise. Instead, she asked shoppers inane questions about faking orgasms and whether happy faces relieved the pain of shin splints. To the extent these segments had a conscious purpose beyond getting laughs, it may have been to emphasize how badly the average person needs the kind of guidance the episode provided, a point also made in one physician's recounting of the results of a poll the home audience had taken using the quiz questions. But the effect of using a "nurse" for this was to reinforce a harmful stereotype, namely that nurses are ditzy lightweights without knowledge or skills.

    The "ugly" element operated as a curious final kick, since it is still far more common to see the reverse stereotype of the attractive "naughty nurse" in the media. We can only speculate that the show, sensitive to some women's issues, could see the problems with objectifying a female character, so it chose to go in the opposite direction.

    Today, in the midst of a nursing shortage that is one of the nation's gravest public health problems--when dedicated, highly skilled nurses save or improve millions of lives every day despite short staffing that endangers their patients' health and their own well-being--it is sad that some seem to feel that female empowerment involves slavishly embracing medicine, to which women can now aspire, while blatantly disrespecting nurses, over 90% of whom are still women. To see these attitudes on Barbara Walters' "The View"--a popular, award-winning show celebrated for being progressive on women's issues--is more than a little ironic.

    We encourage anyone who objects to this episode's "view" of nurses to write to "The Viewmaster" at the show's web site and urge the show to make amends to the nursing profession by creating a primetime show about the rewards of working in the nursing profession. If you do send an email, please send us a copy of it at letters@nursingadvocacy.org so that we can monitor the effectiveness of this campaign. Thank you.
    http://www.nursingadvocacy.org/news/..._the_view.html


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    Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN
    Last edit by brian on Jul 13, '03
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  2. 100 Comments

  3. by   SandySummers
    Sorry, the link to The Viewmaster's email did not come through the first time. Here it is:

    http://abc.abcnews.go.com/daytime/th...iewmaster.html

    And here is a link to The View's web site
    http://abc.abcnews.go.com/daytime/th...es/2003/1.html

    Sandy
  4. by   oramar
    This article says this episode was supposed to air on Monday. Did that ever happen? I don't recall seeing it.
  5. by   GbGirl
    I watched the View on Monday morning...the morning before they aired the evening show...and Meredith Viera made a specifc point that her nurse sketch, which she would be doing that evening, had no bearing on actual nurses at all, and it was all in fun. She also stated that she has a great respect for nurses, and that also her sister-in-law is a nurse.
    As a nurse and a fan of the show, I for one have never felt anything but respect for their opinions of nurses.

    Thank You
  6. by   dawngloves
    This aired Monday night. It was the lowest rated show on that evening.
  7. by   nowplayingEDRN
    Here is a copy of my letter :angryfire Oooooooooo! I am infuriated!!

    Dear Sir or Madam;

    I am writing this letter to you to protest and condem your episode of The View aired on the 16th of June 2003. In this episode, you portrayed nurses and ditzy, ignorant, dangerous and unknowledgable in matter of medical treatment and education of the patient and the general public on health matters while elevating the physican to the level of God.

    Yes, the physican went to school for 6+ years and yes, he/she prescribes treatments specific to various disease processes. However, it is the nurse that takes those treatments and employs them to assist in the treatment of the patient. Not only does he/she do this but she must possess a broad knowledge base about a large variety of diseases and illnesses as well as a vast knowledge of medications, what they do and side effects and how to respond to them. The nurse, whether male or female is trained to recognize the decompensation of the human body as well as what to do when these emergencies arise. You say that the doctor saves your life? I say it takes a REAL NURSE to recognize the impending demise and head it off at the pass, reporting the potenially detrimental symptoms to the doctor and carrying out his or her orders with skill and knowledge and efficency found only in a skilled professional.

    I teach patients how to care for wounds, to draw up and inject insulin for high blood sugars, educate the patient to the proper use of medication and the side effects that can occur, including ones that need PROMPT medical attention. I am the person that watched the monitor that is recording the rhythm and rate of your heart and I am the one that acts IMMEDIATELY if you need emergent intervention, LONG before the doctor arrives at your bed side and yet you have the unabashed nerve to portray me and my fellow co-workers as dumb, silly females that would place a person in harms way, being completely incapable of functioning with out a doctor.

    If it were not for the nurse that cares for you in the hospital, the doctor would not know your progress and subsequently could not prescribe appropriate, progressive treatment for you.

    I am the one that holds your hand and ensures that you have adequet medication for pain, applies a cool cloth to your fevered brow and consoles you when you lose a loved one.

    I am the one that expertly administers life saving medication, draws your blood and ensures that you have enough blankets and clean sheets.

    I am the one that converses on a PROFESSIONAL level with your doctor, helping to see that you recieve the best and most appropriate course of treatment......

    And you dare to protray me as an unprofessional bimbo??

    The next time you go to the doctor because you are ill or are in the hospital because you are in need of intense, acute medical intervention......Look and remember, you are in the hands of a skilled professional....You are in the hands of a NURSE.

    I am requesting for myself and on behalf of all my co-workers nation and world wide, a public apology for your unabashed ignorance, poor taste and slanderous portrayal of nurses.

    Sincerely,
  8. by   fergus51
    It was a joke and that's how I took it.
  9. by   Tweety
    Just because it was a joke and in fun doesn't make it right. But perhaps I'm a bit sensitive as a gay man having seen many negative protrayals of gay people in the media just for fun. It still perpetuates (sp?) stereotypes, even if it is meant in good humor.


    The "I respect nurses, but let me joke about them" doesn't quite work with me. I'm not a bitter prude, and I'm sure if I say it I would have laughed. I know we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. I didn't see the episode so I can't really comment any further.

    But jokes at the expense of the dignity of another group or profession can be a sticky issue with me.
  10. by   Ortho_RN
    Removed by me, since I don't "understand" b/c I am a student..

    Don't want to upset anyone with my "opinion"

    Last edit by nurs2b on Jun 20, '03
  11. by   fab4fan
    Maybe once you are really a nurse and have had to put up with this crap for 20 years, you will understand why it is so insulting to so many of us.

    What Merideth did was play upon many of the old cliches of nursing: we're ditzy, don't have any real contribution to the medical profession, and either we're old crones/tramps/effeminate males (take your pick of stereotypes).

    It was insulting, and it wasn't the first time this show poked fun at nurses. So if you don't mind a show going out to millions of viewers reinforcing negative stereotypes about the nursing profession, well...
  12. by   canadiannurse21
    I so agree with you 3rd shift guy---its not alright to say, "I respect nurses, but i'm still going to make fun of them". I'm sick of meeting men and when I tell them I am a nurse, they get all "excited" (if you get my drift), and they honestly believe I give bed baths and aspirin all day
    All Stereotypes can be funny, but the cons outweigh the pros.
  13. by   Ortho_RN
    Originally posted by fab4fan
    Maybe once you are really a nurse and have had to put up with this crap for 20 years, you will understand why it is so insulting to so many of us.

    What Merideth did was play upon many of the old cliches of nursing: we're ditzy, don't have any real contribution to the medical profession, and either we're old crones/tramps/effeminate males (take your pick of stereotypes).

    It was insulting, and it wasn't the first time this show poked fun at nurses. So if you don't mind a show going out to millions of viewers reinforcing negative stereotypes about the nursing profession, well...
    As I said it was just my opinion...

    And I should have known it wouldn't take long for someone to throw it in my face that I'm just a student, and don't understand...

    Sorry I gave my opinion .... I will retract it..
  14. by   CCL"Babe"
    I wrote a letter of protest to The Viewmaster AND to Johnson and Johnson who sponsored the show. J&J had this big publicity campaign how they spent two million dollars on ads promoting the nursing profession and set up their website to try and attract people to the nursing profession, then they paid for that show. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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