Media Portrayal Of Nurses

  1. Recently, in the Boston Herald (FEBRUARY 12 ISSUE), there was a short news clip about WHDH reporter Sara Edwards who, along with a small group of other reporters was selected to appear on a television episode of ER as an extra. In this story, she expressed her dismay at not being chosen to portray a physician, but instead an RN.

    ``Ugh, I look like I should be scrubbing floors in that smock,'' said Channel 7's glam gal who, along with a handful of TV reporters, was invited to be an extra on the hit NBC medi-drama. ``I was so jealous that some reporters got to be doctors, the one from L.A. got to be a victim with blood all over her face, and I look like I should be cleaning toilets.'' However, Sara did get to wear a stethoscope. But when she went to check Ming-Na, who plays Dr. Jing-Mei Chen, the "ER" doc had to give her an anatomy lesson!

    And if that didn't make Sara feel silly enough, director Charles Haid (he was cop Andy Renko on "Hill Street Blues") had to yell "cut" during Sara's scene at the nurses' station when the RN-for-a- day tripped over a wheelchair! "I was so embarrassed," she said. But off-camera, the 7News gal got to use "the paddles" on Noah Wyle (Dr. John Carter) and told the cute, yet confused, Croatian, Dr. Luka Kovac (Goren Visnjic) he needed to have another affair with a nurse.

    Anyhow, I sent a little note to WHDH regarding her disparaging comments about nurses and got this reply:

    Dear Lisa
    Thank you for your comments regarding Sara Edwards' remarks in the February 12 Boston Herald's Inside Track. Please be assured that absolutely no disrespect was intended to the worthy and critical profession of nursing. Sara was visiting the set of a television program surrounded by actors and actresses; she was not in a real setting observing real medical professionals. Sara was simply making a joke about that contrast and was not referring to a real life situation of any kind. We apologize for any insult you perceive, but no such thing was intended. Again, thank you for your correspondence.

    Ro Dooley Webster
    Director of Public Relations
    7NBC (WHDH-TV)

    I FEEL THAT AS A PROFESSIONAL, I AM OBLIGATED TO PRESERVE THE DIGNITY OF MY ROLE AS A CAREGIVER AS WELL AS AN EDUCATED PERSON. THE NURSING PROFESSION HAS TAKEN TOO MANY "KNOCKS" OVER THE DECADES. WE NEED TO SET THE PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS STRAIGHT, AND THAT BEGINS WITH THE MEDIA.

    If you have any feedback that you would like to send, please forward an email with your thoughts to: RDooley@whdh.com

    I am sure that "Ro" will appreciate your thoughts...
    :imbar
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  2. Poll: DO YOU THINK THE TELEVISION MEDIA PORTRAYS NURSES IN A NEGATIVE MANNER?

    • YES

      76.09% 35
    • NO

      23.91% 11
    46 Votes
  3. 10 Comments

  4. by   -jt
    <WE NEED TO SET THE PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS STRAIGHT, AND THAT BEGINS WITH THE MEDIA. >

    Agreed. Yeah its only a TV show and isnt real and we can just turn off the television, but that doesnt mean that stuff like this isnt having a negative impact on the national shortage of nurses by reinforcing the perception that nursing is unworthy, undesireable, lowly work.

    Letter sent.
  5. by   mghtraumarn
    I appreciate any and all input that my fellow nurses may have in this regard. The nursing profession's image has been perceived by the public in many different ways, not always an accurate portrayal of what it really is. I'm not saying that we are martyrs or approval-seekers, however, we aren't simple-minded husband-seeking hand-maiden nymphomaniacs that carry poison-filled syringes in our pockets and dream of being just like Nurse Wratched.

    We are intelligent, dynamic, resourceful, caring, crafty, outspoken individuals who provide physical and emotional care for patients. We are the shoulders that people cry on, the resources that people look to when they need help or answers, the advocates who speak out when patients cannot.

    We do not define ourselves by the respect that we receive or don't receive, but we are protective of our practice, because it is what we are. And, when somebody attacks that, they attack us. That's how *I* see it. I strive every single day to be a better person in some way, shape or form, and that crosses over into my nursing practice, and vice-versa. Each and every day is a new learning experience for me. Knowledge is attained through my readings, experiences, and interactions with people. So, when I see people belittling our profession, I cannot just laugh it off. What we do is vital and sacred. What we do is damned HARD!
  6. by   mghtraumarn
    This letter was sent out by a Massachusetts chapter of the Emergency Nurse Organization:

    I sent this out today. Thank you for notifying us. Geo

    Dear Channel 7,

    While your near apology for Ms. Edwards' remarks is appreciated,
    it does not come close to mitigating the damage done. I do
    understand that Ms. Edwards was speaking of an event in her life that did not allow her to have a "glamour shot" with the actors on the set, but her comments reflect feelings that are widespread in the media and society at large. We frequently are portrayed as handmaidens to the doctors, silly ignorant bimbos, oversexed
    pleasure/husband hunters and worse.

    Her comments (as reported) only reinforce and perpetuate those stereotypes. As an individual who should appreciate the effect that her opinions have on her public, an explaination and/or an apology from Ms. Edwards in a manner that reaches a similar or greater audience is appropriate. I hope you will convey my sentiments to Ms. Edwards and to the management of your station. Channel 7 has done much to inform the public of the
    crises in healthcare facing us all, including the nursing shortage
    and Emergency Department overcrowding. Recruitment into the
    profession is lagging behind the need for new nurses.

    Experienced nurses are retiring or retraining to different professions at an unprecedented rate. Negative, stereotypical portrayals of any kind can only put Registered Nurses at even more of a disadvantage than we are now, as we work to keep a leaky boat afloat. Please consider an appropriate public response.

    Thank you.
    George O'Neil RN, BSN, CEN
  7. by   NurseShell
    Huh! And to think I was just telling my friend that it might be fun to "play a nurse" on ER - because nurses do all the "real work" as far as I'm concerned!! Poor, confused, misguided reporter! She has no idea what she's talking about!

    p.s. why "cut" when someone trips over a wheelchair, in "real life" that happens, I've seen it. I've seen "worse" too! I suppose it's TV's job to make things look distorted.
  8. by   mghtraumarn
    Right on Shell!! ain't THAT the truth?? almost forgot that we also scrub the toilets and mop the floors too...(hmm, don't give management any bright ideas, they might fire housekeeping).
  9. by   OBNURSEHEATHER
    Your poll doesn't reflect the portion of people that aren't bothered by it either way, therefore I couldn't vote.

    Heather
  10. by   mghtraumarn
    I am not interested in who the neutral people are. No offense, but that information is not useful to me. Its a YES or NO question, so make a decision either way or do not respond to the poll.
  11. by   fergus51
    I think nurses are definitely portrayed in an unrealistic way on tv, sometimes as idiot servants, sometimes as the Florence Nightengale martyr types. I think that's true of most jobs though from lawyers to cops.
  12. by   mghtraumarn
    I agree with that statement. And, I have to admit that those stereotypes DO sway the public opinion. I'm not sure whether I am calling the media industry on the carpet for the inaccurate portrayals or shovelling the proverbial sh-t against the tide.
  13. by   oramar
    If even one nurse gets treated like he/she is lower than dirt by a patient or family member who gets their ideas about nurses from the tv(and most of them do)than that is one to many.

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