After Summers declared that nurses actually have a duty to educate the public about the work we do as opposed to the work the public thinks we do , I sat down and wrote an op-ed piece for my local paper.
That first editorial asked that everyone say thank you to nurses for the patients we have helped and stop paying attention to the stereotypes about us. As we know, the media too frequently shows nurses in an endlessly condescending light.
On TV and in the movies, physicians are shown running hospitals, saving lives and making all the important decisions. Nurses, on the other hand, are either shown wearing naughty or cartoonish clothing or else depicted as glorified secretaries and janitors.
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- Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk;
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In this book, Summers and her husband, Harry Jacobs Summers, have beautifully documented not only the way nurses are usually depicted, but also the scholarly research that shows how these tropes affect just about everything related to the nursing profession. While physicians bill separately and are often handsomely compensated, nursing costs are rolled into hospital overhead charges and are rarely reimbursed by insurers.
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Nurses, however, are noticeable in their absence. That is simply outrageous, especially given that RNs by far constitute the greatest number of health care providers. Though the authors argue that negative media images hurt the nursing profession—and in turn worsen the nursing shortage—research shows that this may not be the case. Gallup polls consistently identify nurses as the most respected of all professionals. And in , Dr.
Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk
Peter Buerhaus, PhD found that people who watched popular television shows were as likely as those who saw shows about nurses helping out in disasters to recommend nursing as a positive career choice. But no matter how media affect popular opinion, it remains obvious that nurses need to be on the frontlines of health care reform and demand to be heard regarding standards.
One way to do this is to become experts in dealing with the media and be quoted more frequently in the popular press. This would help ensure that the general public receives a better idea of what nurses do, the clinical expertise they possess, and the educational requirements of the profession.
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- Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nurses Puts us All at Risk.
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The positive ideas suggested in Saving Lives can certainly be utilized by nursing leaders in dealing with the press.