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Presentation on theme: "PORTRAYAL OF NURSING IN THE MEDIA"— Presentation transcript:

Allison Mentink, Christine Ostendorf, Jessica Gums University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

2 Introduction We have all heard stories regarding nurses: killer nurses, incompetent nurses, poorly trained nurses and of course the entertainment media have their “naughty nurses” Negative/derogatory portrayal of nursing in the media has become more prevalent over the past 50 years. This has heightened with more negative images in the past 20 years. The medias portrayal of nurses is one of the most difficult to compete with The issue of how nurses and nursing as a profession are portrayed in the media is affected by many different influences. Nurses in general do not like to be in the media. As stated in Silence to Voice Nurses encountered by the media seem terrified of talking about their work and expressing their opinions. From a professional standpoint nurses have been more focused on their profession and not justifying themselves to the media and those that have misconceptions of nurses.

3 Media Print ads Radio News coverage Books Internet Television Movies
Print news media sometimes portrays nurses as skilled professionals, but often reports only on nursing mistakes. The media has portrayed nurses as meek handmaidens, love interests, bimbos and naughty nurses. The naughty nurse image has been used to sell alcohol, razor blades, cosmetics, shoes and milk. Johnson & Johnson ad campaign to get people to enter nursing, but portrayed nurses as ‘angels’ not professionals


5 Wait! People Trust Nurses!
2008 Gallup poll ranked nurses #1 for honesty and ethics Trust is not the same as respect!

6 Does it Matter? Nursing is an autonomous profession
TV, movies, and news accounts frequently give credit for the work nurses do to physicians or hospitals People are affected by what they see and hear – this is why companies and politicians spend millions of dollars on advertising Entertainment education In the 1950s and 1960s, the American Medical Association asserted control over network television shows, ensuring scripts included heroic physicians Entertainment education – a way of informing the public about a social issue or concern by using popular social media like TV Harvard and UCLA schools of public health Hollywood Health and Society Project at USC sponsored by the CDC and the Writers Guild of America

7 Where are all the nurses?
In 2008, 39 of 43 major characters on the top 5 U.S. health related prime time TV shows were physicians. In reality, there were 3 million nurses and 700,000 physicians; a 4:1 ratio

8 Real Nurses vs Fictional Nurses
WHAT REAL NURSE DO WHAT TV NURSES DO Educate Answer Phones Patient Advocate Follow Doctor Orders Triage Have Affairs with Doctors Monitor Patients Assist Doctors Provide Emotional Support Watch Doctors Save Lives Perform Procedures Save Lives

9 Do people really believe what they see?
2000 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed: 52% of people reported getting information they trust to be accurate from a prime time TV show Greater than 25% said such shows are among their top 3 sources for health information 9 out of 10 regular viewers said they learned something about diseases from TV Almost 50% took some action after watching the show 42% told someone the storyline 16% told someone to do something or did something themselves 9% visited a clinic or physician

10 How does the media currently view nurses?
From , NBC’s daytime soap opera Passion’s had an orangutan play the role of Precious – a private duty nurse.

11 Early Ideas About Nursing
Angels of Mercy until end of WWII 1920’s to end of WWII – pragmatic, even heroic A Farewell to Arms (1932)

12 1930’s-1940’s – Dr. Kildare films introduced nurses as love interests 1940’s-1960’s – series of juvenile novels about Cherry Ames Adventurous, bright, young nurse crime solver 1950’s-1960’s – AMA asserted control over network television Heroic physician characters virtuous, no mistakes

13 1960’s brought the naughty nurse, balanced by the senior battle-ax Quality of nursing portrayal decreased in both film and prime time television One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) : The Nurses series

14 1960’s and 1970’s: increase in portrayal of explicit sexual activity Catch 22 (1970) M.A.S.H. (1972) Kalischs of University of Michigan Nursing School published multiple studies in the 1980’s

15 1980’s – 1990’s Nurses were shown as peripheral assistants to dominant physicians St. Elsewhere showed occasional formidable nurse character China Beach lead character colleen McMurphy was competent, tough army nurse but did not generally display much skill Overall nurses encountered by the media appear terrified of talking about their work and expressing their opinions. (Buresh & Gordon, 2006)

16 1980’s – 1990’s TV sitcom Nurses treated nurses with some respect Nightingales featured sexy nursing students who spent so much time partially undressed that outraged nurses actually managed to chase the show off the air ER 1994 One of the most influential health care shows in history. Fairly realistic scenes, some of the best depictions of nursing ever to appear on network TV, occasionally showed serious nursing skill and autonomy, but as a whole depicted nurses as the handmaiden, as a skilled physician assistant who must defer to him. Look at newspapers, popular magazines, television news or internet sites and inevitably you will encounter health information and news. Studies show that the media and internet are relied on as primary sources of health information. (Buresh & Gordan, 2006)

17 Present Strong Medicine on Lifetime had a handsome, articulate nurse midwife Peter Riggs, but other nurses were mute handmaidens 2001-Present Scrubs, main nurse Carla Espinosa at times shows real skill, but also shows doctors starting iv’s and hanging medications and providing virtually all care House stated nurses were invented to pick patients up when they fall and to get him coffee Private Practice only has one nurse/receptionist character-male midwife student HawthoRNe – Told from the point of view of nurses as they struggle against the odds to deliver the best care possible. Several different nurses in different stages of their nursing careers. Television depends more on pictures than words to convey the news while newspapers use more words than pictures. (Buresh & Gordon, 2006)

18 Present Nurse Jackie – Portrays an irresponsible nurse that is addicted to pain medications and does things the way she wants to, not the legal way.


20 How has the Media’s Portrayal Affected Nurses?
Nursing shortage Prevented men from entering nursing Reduced respect and trust in nursing Reduced the patient population of nurse practitioners

21 What Can We Do? Nurses must recognize that they have the power to change the profession Project a professional image Write letters to editors and producers Hospital managers can promote nursing just like they do medicine Media can consult with nurses Hollywood can include characters to reflect real nursing work

22 “Most people know they can’t get into a hospital without a doctor
“Most people know they can’t get into a hospital without a doctor. What they don’t know is that they won’t get out of one – at least not alive – without a nurse.” - Nursing Historian Joan Lynaugh

23 REFERENCES Adler, J. (2009, February 28). The nurse will see you now. Newsweek. Retrieved from now.html Buresh,B. & Gordon,S. (2006). From silence to voice: What nurses know and must communicate to the public (2nd ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Fealy, G. M. (2004). The good nurse: Visions and values in images of the nurse. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 46 (6), Gordon, S. (2005). Nursing against the odds: How health care cost cutting, media stereotypes, and medical hubris undermine nurses and patient care. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Kalisch, B.J. & Kalilsch, P. A. (1983). Improving the image of nursing. The American Journal of Nursing, 83 (1), Kalisch, B.J., Kalisch, P.A. & McHugh, M.L. (1982). The nurse as a sex object in motion pictures, 1930 to Research in Nursing and Health, 5,

24 REFERENCES Kalisch, P. A., Kalisch, B.J. & Clinton, J. (1982). The world of nursing on prime time television, 1950 to Nursing Research, 31 (6), Lusk, B. (2000). Pretty and powerless: Nurses in advertisements, Research in Nursing & Health, 23 (3), Saad, L. (2008). [Graph illustration Top rated professions for honesty and ethics Nov 7-9, 2008] Nurses shine while bankers slump in ethics rating. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from Gallup: Shine-While-Bankers-Slump-Ethics-Ratings.aspx Schorr, T. (1963). Nursing's TV image. American Journal of Nursing, 63 (10), Spangler, R. W. (1955). We're on TV every week. American Journal of Nursing, 55 (5), Summers, S., & Summers, H. J. (2009). Saving lives: Why the media's portrayal of nurses puts us all at risk. New York, NY: Kaplan Publishing. Takase, M., Maude, P., & Manias, E. (2006). Impact of the perceived public image of nursing on nurses' work behaviour. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 53 (3),


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