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Nurse Dramas---Helping or Hurting?

Posted Jun 30 2009 12:00am

I’m surprised by my interest in and excitement about the new nurse-centered TV dramas, Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe (and Mercy projected to debut in the fall lineup). I suppose that some of my reaction is in response to the efforts of Sandy Summers who, as the former voice of The Center for Nursing Advocacy and presently that of The Truth About Nursing, has kept a close eye on TV medical dramas and diligently campaigned for the accurate portrayal of nurses and nursing.

Summers communicates frequently with writers and producers, calling them to task for relegating nurses to insignificant roles while showing physicians performing the lifesaving skills that nurses do every day. She was told, time and again, that the viewing public is simply not interested in stories about nurses, only physicians.

From reading the accounts of her interactions with TV brass, it certainly appeared that Hollywood had its heels dug in and no changes were forthcoming. I am very curious to know if it was Summers’s persistent urging, or something else, that motivated producers to give nurses a chance to star on the small screen in not one, but three, shows—a remarkable about face.

Writers have given Jackie and Hawthorne powerful roles but also personal foibles, namely Jackie’s prescription drug addiction and Hawthorne’s rebellious daughter, in addition to questionable behavior on the parts of both nurses.

It’s early in the game but the shows are stirring up controversy within the nursing profession. The Center for Nursing Advocacy wants to explore this controversy and is asking nurses to respond to the Center’s discussion board to voice their opinions.

Go to the Center’s Web site, click on ‘discussion board’ and tell the Center what you think regarding these two questions:

1. Do you think Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe are helping or hurting nursing?
2. How can nurses, including nursing faculty, use Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe to educate their peers and students about the importance of becoming advocates for the nursing profession?

I’d also like to hear your opinions. Please share them here.

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