Real RNs on TV

  1. They add humanity to treatment of patients


    Discovery Health Channel Series "NURSES"
    By David Zurawik
    Sun Television Critic
    Originally published Jan 27 2001

    When ABC filmed 'Hopkins 24/7,' it left out a major segment of health care. The series it is now showing, 'Nurses', fills the gap.

    The part missing from '24/7', "Nurses," a five-hour documentary that takes viewers inside the culture of nursing at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, is the most enlightened and moving treatment of these medical workers that I have ever seen on television. This is a series that quietly explodes stereotypes that have been built by decades of male-oriented prime-time medical dramas, reaching back to ABC's "Ben Casey" in the 1960s. All you nurses who
    were rightfully angered by the near-invisibility of your profession in "Hopkins 24/7," last year's highly publicized ABC News documentary on the Hopkins Medical Center, mark your calendars, set your VCRs and call or e-mail everyone you know, telling them to watch or tape starting tomorrow night at 8 on the Discovery Health Channel. This is the long-overdue series that starts to tell your story on prime-time television. In this film you - not the
    doctors - are the heroes. Like "Hopkins 24/7," the Discovery Health documentary, which will air in five one-hour segments, focuses on different departments within the vast Hopkins complex, interweaving narratives featuring patients in often life-threatening situations with the medical professionals who try to help them. But here the medical workers are nurses instead of doctors, and most of them seem as concerned with caring for the patients as they
    do with treating them. The difference between caring for and treating is best suggested on-screen by Melanie Michel, an oncology nurse who appears in Part 4. She describes one of the primary goals of her work with cancer patients each day by saying, "I want to constantly affirm our human bond." Caring for includes medical treatment, but then goes beyond it to include that shared sense of humanity between care giver and patient. "Nurses" is loaded
    with it. The first hour, which focuses on pediatrics, features a 9-year-old boy brought to Hopkins after he picked up a live electrical wire in an alley. He is badly burned, and his right hand has been amputated. Eventually, he'll lose the entire right arm, and it breaks your heart. You'll see nurses changing the dressing on his badly burned arm and preparing him for surgery. You'll see nurses at his bedside reading the wall of machines to which he's
    attached as they assess what level of treatment he needs. But you'll also hear Kaitlin Hamilton, the nurse in charge of his case, explain why she thinks it's now time to tell the boy, who has been mainly coping with pain, what has happened to him. He needs to understand, she says, that he no longer has his right arm. As you see the realization of his loss flash across the boy's face, you also see the nurse's hand reach out to comfort him. Before the
    hour's over, you'll see how not only this nurse's expertise but also her concern and compassion can take a shattered little boy and put him on the path to recovery. The segment is emblematic of the kind of intimacy, drama and medical reality the filmmakers managed to capture in "Nurses." Along with that, though, comes a warning for viewers: Some of the images are intense. Discovery Health wants you to see the world as the nurses at Hopkins see it, so
    the filmmakers show us what a 9-year-old boy's arm looks like after electrocution. They also show us how a 1-year-old girl's intestines are temporarily removed during a liver transplant and what her body looks like afterward - belly bloated and scarred, a tiny bundle of flesh with what seem like a million wires attached. We need to see these things to understand the culture of nursing from the inside out. The scene with the 1-year-old is
    representative of something else "Nurses" does better than "Hopkins 24/7" did: find ways to let the care-givers explain what they do and what viewers are seeing. Instead of just showing the child with all the wires running in and out of her body, we are allowed to eavesdrop as the nurse explains to the mother what the wall of machines at the other end of the wires is telling her about the little girl. The mother asks if there is any way the nurse can
    find room among all the wires for her daughter's favorite blanket - and if she can place it so the yarn edging is against the child's face. The nurse finds a way. The nurses in this documentary don't always find a way. Viewers will meet patients and come to vicariously care for them, only to see them die. The pain on this side of the TV screen, of course, is only a hint of what many of the Hopkins nurses experience almost every day. It is another
    measure of their heroism, and our lives are enriched by Discovery Health's bringing it to us.."

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    About -jt

    Joined: Oct '00; Posts: 2,662; Likes: 46


  3. by   oramar
    Excellent show, excellent review. Thanks for posting the link. If you follow the link they have a place to post comments in the right upper hand corner. They only thing lacking in this whole business is a indebth look into the care of the health care worker. I am going to post a comment about the crummy wages, hours and benefits nurses recieve in exchange for their caring. I think I will mention the unsafe working conditions also. You have to register to post.
  4. by   mustangsheba
    jt Thank you for your wonderful review. You could submit it to a journal. I appreciate your always being on top of these events and keeping us apprised. Unfortunately, I didn't see your post until this morning. Maybe they'll air the program again. Again, thanks.
  5. by   -jt
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by mustangsheba:
    [B]jt Thank you for your wonderful review. You could submit it to a journal.

    well thanks but I didnt write that!!!
    See on the top there??? I qoted it & attributed it to the person who wrote it & included the website URL of where it can be found! Sorry for the confusion.
  6. by   OC_An Khe
    If you go to you can find times when it will be rebroadcasted. Also you can see promo's on future segments. my only regret is I don't get discovery health channel, nor do I know anyone who does.I e-mailed them with suggestion to air on regular discovery channel as this would reach a wider audience. As an aside if this was done about MD's it would probably been more widely aired.
  7. by   mustangsheba
    Mea culpa. I completely disregarded your heading and went straight to the body. You ARE an excellent writer notwithstanding. I also do not get the Discovery health channel. I didn't even realize it was different from the regular Discovery channel.
  8. by   nursenoblis
    I get the discovery Health channel but had to miss the first part because I had to wok and did not set the vcr.
    I plan to watch the next segment on Feb 8th.
    I hope they get enough good reviews or viewers and the air it again or put it on a main stream PBS channel.
  9. by   -jt
    Originally posted by nursenoblis:
    I get the discovery Health channel but had to miss the first part because I had to wok and did not set the vcr.
    I plan to watch the next segment on Feb 8th.
    The first segment has been run over & over every night, every couple of hours. Just check the listing whenever you get . Youmight still catch it.
  10. by   Hypoxic Pixel Eyes
    I was Interested in getting a copy of that program!
    If they give an address to send for one or some contact info would you please post it?
    I don't get Discovery Health Channel but I would like to see that since I'm considering that school for BSN.
    It's always been my peeve that they never profile any nurses on those types of shows.

    That's probably because the nurses are to busy actually doing pt care eh?

    Thank you.
  11. by   -jt
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Hypoxic Pixel Eyes:
    I was Interested in getting a copy of that program!

    for those of you who don't have this channel-- you can buy the 5 part series from Discovery for 29.99- This includes shipping. They usually charge 19.99 PER tape. So this is a bargain. ( )Discovery said that they will not be airing this series on any other channel in the future. I thought the shows touched only the surface of what we do and who we are - it was more of a commercial for that particular hospital but at least its a start.....

    "Nurses - Hearts of Mercy - Nerves of Steel"

  12. by   natalie
    Hi jt!

    I scanned the website and couldn't find that series on sale anywhere. What am I missing? Thanks for any help.