Changing Media's Portrayal of Nurses

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    from medscape nurses
    eletters: corresponding with nurses
    nurses and the media: the center for nursing advocacy
    posted 03/16/2006
    richard s. ferri, phd, anp, acrn, faan

    editor's note:
    as anyone in the nursing profession knows, the portrayal of nurses in the media is often inaccurate and sometimes downright sexist and insulting. in this eletter, we meet a nurse who is trying to do something about changing those stereotypes. sandy summers, rn, msn, mph,...she and other colleagues became interested in how the media portrays nursing to the public and its impact on nurses everywhere...here is sandy's story.



    ...question: how and when did the center for nursing advocacy begin? why do you believe it was necessary for the center to be established?
    response:...the group identified the poor public understanding of nursing as a contributing factor in the continual nursing shortage. with budget cuts and short staffing, it appeared to us that nurses were being cut out of the healthcare system. we turned our group into a permanent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2002...

    ...one of the most harmful media portrayals of nursing is the invisible nurse -- where important nursing work is not mentioned, or credit for it is given to physician characters. one way we can resolve this is by educating the media as to the role nurses really play. in our recent 2005 today show campaign, more than 3500 nurses and supporters wrote to nbc to object to a piece on quick clinics that suggested nurse practitioners were subcompetent, despite all the research showing that the care provided by nurse practitioners is at least as good as that provided by physicians....

    ...television has generally been horrific for nurses, with the exception of a few documentaries and news segments. entertainment television, which is very influential, has been a disaster for nursing for over a decade. if you look at our tv reviews page, no show rates higher than 1 1/2 stars (fairly poor).
    readers can get involved by visiting the center's web site at http://www.nursingadvocacy.org and learning about media images of nurses... some of the hundreds of reports and analyses on our site may seem provocative.

    edited from: medscape nurses. 2006;8(1) 2006 medscape
    Last edit by loricatus on Mar 22, '06 : Reason: Conform to copyright policies
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  3. 9 Comments so far...

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    I am quite impressed by this article.
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    Remember the Cherry Ames and Sue Barton books? The fact that books about nurses for kids aren't out there any more has been linked to the nurses shortage. It's a theory I find interesting and may have some merit. I read Sue Barton as a kid and recently reread the first book, very interesting to reread it now as an RN with 25 years expeience. I heard/read someone is updating Cherry Ames and plans to republish it. Could be interesting.
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    Don't forget Golden Books "Nurse Nancy"



    Now comes with free Bandaid bandage!
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Mar 25, '06
  7. 0
    Cherry Ames was the best! I credit her and Dixie McCall on Emergency for me becoming a nurse. If the books get updated, I would love to get them for my two daughters!
  8. 0
    Quote from mobilern
    remember the cherry ames and sue barton books? the fact that books about nurses for kids aren't out there any more has been linked to the nurses shortage. it's a theory i find interesting and may have some merit. i read sue barton as a kid and recently reread the first book, very interesting to reread it now as an rn with 25 years expeience. i heard/read someone is updating cherry ames and plans to republish it. could be interesting.
    what a flashback you just gave me!! i remember those books and thinking how much i'd love doing that! i always wanted to be a nurse and when i think about it now, those books could easily have helped influence my decision.

    i've watched er for a long time. lately i have been watching reruns on saturday afternoons and am noticing how often the nurses don't have lines and are always in the background just taking orders from the docs. the only time that i can recall a nurse having a significant role was when carol (julianna margueles) hathaway thought of going to med school but ultimately decided that she really preferred nursing.
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    I'm always on that site. They have great links to send letters to the producers of Grey's Anatomy, ER, etc. to protet their incorrect portrayal of nurses.
    By the way, the Grey's Anatomy website has a "nurse's blog", a nurse who wrties about nothing but what the interns are up to. And the name? "Debbie Does Seattle Grace". AGH! Makes me so mad!
  10. 0
    I would get two “Cherry Ames books for Christmas or my birthday each year. I would promise myself that I would not read them both in just a couple days … no such luck! I still have the whole collection. Cherry and my neighborhood idol Dr. Lorraine G Spranzo RN PhD. were the inspiration for attending nursing school. I do suppose those free Band-Aids on the “Nurse Nancy” book kind of helped too.
    FYI – there is an advanced nursing degree scholarship available in Connecticut under her name. Her life was cut tragically short due to a car accident involving a drunk driver.
  11. 0
    I agree the image the media portays does suck, but this is also because people idolize doctors and thats why they are the ones who get all the credit and unfortunately unless you have an administrative position you do need to do tasks as changing diapers or emptying bedpans. when i started studying nursing they told me all these tasks were reserved for the nurses aides but thats nit true nurses at the hospital do give baths, feed patients and change the beds which i find pretty embarassing that after all the hard work and training we end up doing the same job as an aide
  12. 0
    I agree the image the media portays does suck, but this is also because people idolize doctors and thats why they are the ones who get all the credit and unfortunately unless you have an administrative position you do need to do tasks as changing diapers or emptying bedpans. when i started studying nursing they told me all these tasks were reserved for the nurses aides but thats nit true nurses at the hospital do give baths, feed patients and change the beds which i find pretty embarassing that after all the hard work and training we end up doing the same job as an aide


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