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Old 12-30-2010, 01:48 PM
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Default A Letter to Hollywood: Nurses Are NOT Handmaidens

Dear Hollywood,

We, the nurses of the world, have something to say to you. Nurses are not what you think. Nurses are independent, highly educated, and skilled healthcare experts who save lives every single day. We work hard and are dedicated to making differences in people's lives.
And we are really sick of going home after a 12-hour shift, turning on the television, and seeing ourselves depicted as brainless bimbos. This has been going on far too long, and it has to stop.

The Clown Took a Job as a Nurse
I remember a time when I was in nursing school, watching TV with my roommate, Liz. A skit came on, in which a famous comedienne of the day was dressed up like a clown. For some reason the clown had to leave the circus. "So," said the narrator, "the clown took a job as a nurse." We laughed at the absurdity of this, but I never forgot it. We were in the middle of a demanding 4-year nursing program, and the suggestion that anyone, even a clown, could be a nurse, just like that, was wounding. I think it was then that I began to take notice of how Hollywood represents nurses.
The answer is...badly. But it isn't just disrespect that comes through in Hollywood portrayals -- it's contempt, and it's not at all subtle. You scorn us in the way you pigeonhole nurses on the small screen -- it seems that we're either half-wits, nymphomaniacs, or latter-day Nurse Ratcheds. Obviously, you have no concept of nurses as autonomous, knowledgeable professionals. We work alongside physicians, but we are their colleagues, not their subordinates. Yet in every hospital drama, physician characters are ordering nurses around, treating them like uneducated servants, or performing nursing care themselves and getting the credit for it, while the nurse characters just fade from view.
I can almost hear your reaction to my complaints. There, there, dear, don't take it personally, it's harmless, it's funny. Is it, really? Will it still be harmless or funny one day in the future when you are in the hospital and you press your nurse-call button and no one responds? Or it is answered -- eventually -- by a minimally trained hospital "technician"? The nursing shortage will have reduced our ranks considerably, and driven many of us into early retirement. It doesn't help the situation when schoolchildren and teens already discount the notion of becoming nurses because of the way nurses are portrayed on Grey's Anatomy. Becoming a nurse, they believe, is a waste of their talents.

Maybe You're Misinformed


I'm going to give those in Hollywood the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they just have the wrong impression of nurses, and have no idea what nurses really do. But for the non-nurse readers, we'll pretend that you are in the hospital, and you've just had emergency heart surgery.
  • Who do you suppose will be at your side, watching your blood pressure, making sure you don't go into shock?
  • Who will be alert for the slightest hint of life-threatening hemorrhage?
  • Who will respond in mere seconds if your heart begins to beat irregularly?
  • Who will make sure that your chest tube doesn't get blocked and cause you to go into cardiac arrest?
  • Who will keep the circulation moving in your lower legs so you a clot doesn't develop and you don't die from a pulmonary embolism?
  • Who will be constantly watching to make sure that you don't stop breathing, that you are getting enough oxygen, that postoperative pneumonia is not developing?
  • Who will relieve your pain before you even have to ask?
  • Who will explain everything that is happening to you and teach you how to take care of yourself after you go home?
I'll give you a hint -- it's not your physician. It is your nurses. They will see you safely through one of the most dangerous times of your life, doing all these things and more.
And just so we're clear, I'll tell you what your nurses won't be doing. They won't be clustered around the nurses' station as though at a cocktail party, flirting with physicians. They won't be in the broom closet or the stairwell or behind the patient's curtain giving sexual favors. They won't be trailing after the physician as he marches down the hall, in case he needs a cup of or someone to dump on. Nor will they be in the receptionist's chair, moaning about not being able to get into medical school. If these scenes sound a little familiar -- I'm not surprised. This is how nurses are regularly portrayed on television dramas.

No Angels of Mercy, Please
Hollywood, we're not asking you to glorify nurses. Don't turn us into heroes or martyrs. We just want to be accorded the respect, the esteem that our education, status, and profession warrant. We want our dignity back. We don't want the entire world to think of us as sleazy, dim-witted underlings. We want to erase the image of the "naughty nurse" -- this is your bizarre fantasy, not ours.
We want young, impressionable children to view nursing as a viable, respected, and even admired profession, one they would be proud to call their own. But most of all, we want our patients to trust us and value our knowledge, so that when we teach them how to become healthier people and live longer, healthier lives, they will listen. This, our most treasured ability -- the core of nursing -- is what you threaten with your cheap attempts to increase ratings by ridiculing the nursing profession.
So my question to you is, is it worth it? Is the money you make from entertaining viewers with mentally unbalanced, sexually promiscuous, or idiotically subservient nurse characters worth influencing potentially hundreds of thousands of young men and women to shun a career in nursing? Will you feel content, even proud, the next time you encounter a nurse, in the thought that you regularly chip away at her self-respect and her ability to be effective in her job?
Or will you infuse some realism into your tired stereotypes? You can start by discarding the following myths -- their demise is long overdue.

www.medscape.com
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:01 PM
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BRAVO!!! Well said!
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Old 12-30-2010, 03:00 PM
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Too bad those Hollywood twits have neither the inclination nor the intellectual capacity to understand that.
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Old 12-30-2010, 04:08 PM
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I saw that when Medscape published the open letter earlier this year and totally agree. We can help by not perpetuating the stereotype and speaking out when we see it. My kids and I find the "medical" shows entertaining, but I use them as opportunities to tell them what it's really like. (For example, when we watch 'House', I very quickly tell them docs don't do all their own procedures.) I get really upset when a professional nurse dresses up like a "naughty" nurse at Halloween or whenever.

Do you guys know about the Heart Attack Grill? I think it's wrong all around. And I'd like to ask the customers who do end up having MIs how they feel about nurses after their lives have been saved.

YouTube - Heart Attack Grill on Dateline


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Old 12-30-2010, 05:17 PM
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Do you guys know about the Heart Attack Grill? I think it's wrong all around. And I'd like to ask the customers who do end up having MIs how they feel about nurses after their lives have been saved.

YouTube - Heart Attack Grill on Dateline


I've seen this cafe on TV. Completely sickening. People who are over a certain weight like 300lbs or something like that gets free burgers. They even have a fry buffet. It's all kinds of wrong this place... DISGUSTING! and girls who are hardly qualified to even be a Nurse ASSISTANT are parading around calling themselves nurses. It's SAD. I'd never eat there.
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:18 PM
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Yecccchhhh! Feh!! That is beyond disgusting. How the heck do you eat something like that without unhinging your jaws like a boa constrictor? And what do they cook those fries in, used crankcase oil? And, NO WAY would I pay those prices, either.

If I get an uncontrolable urge for a hamburger (usually means that my iron's a little low, I've found), I go to Steak & Shake and have a single with a side of salad or baked beans. Skinny, I'm not, but looking at what they serve at that Heart Attack Cafe just about takes my appetite away.

BTW, I don't care for those slutty "nurses", either. As a nurse who has put in some serious time on her feet, I have my doubts about any so-called nurse who would wear high heels. Heck, I don't understand how those waitresses can wear them. They'll be visiting real doctors for treatment of arthritis in their feet, ankles, knees, hips, and backs before they know it.
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:23 PM
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Yecccchhhh! Feh!! That is beyond disgusting. How the heck do you eat something like that without unhinging your jaws like a boa constrictor? And what do they cook those fries in, used crankcase oil? And, NO WAY would I pay those prices, either.
I think they use lard if I remember correctly? Something gross and fattening.
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:30 PM
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BTW, I don't care for those slutty "nurses", either. As a nurse who has put in some serious time on her feet, I have my doubts about any so-called nurse who would wear high heels. Heck, I don't understand how those waitresses can wear them. They'll be visiting real doctors for treatment of arthritis in their feet, ankles, knees, hips, and backs before they know it.
Amen, Sistah! And ask them if they want real nurses or waitresses in nurse costumes. Gawd.
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:18 PM
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BRAVO!!! Well said!
I so agree Jenna that was a great article and I do hope those idjits in Hollywood that keep portraying us sex kittens in nursing uniforms stop it, take a long hard look at themselves and realize they are not doing the nursing profession any favors (or themselves for that matter)
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