Recent press items highlight the violence U.S. hospital nurses face today The Atlantic posted a piece in December 2016 on the growing threats from nurses’ patients, and the inadequate support from legislators…
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Nursing will be back to prime time. The big news is Netflix’s release of Ratched, but the streaming giant will also offer more of the actually-pretty-good portrayal of nursing on romantic drama Virgin River. And it seems there will always be the BBC’s Call the Midwife, with its strong portrayals of nursing. But on the new show Transplant, about a refugee trauma physician, nurses are peripheral helpers. And otherwise, the landscape will be dominated by other physician-centric dramas, ranging from Chicago Med, which has several skilled nurses, to Grey’s Anatomy, which never has.
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In July 2020 the National Institutes of Health announced that Shannon Zenk, RN, PhD, would assume the role of director of the National Institute of Nursing Research in fall 2020. Since August 2019, NINR has been without a nurse director, with that role being filled on an interim basis by a dentist and then a biologist. Last year the Truth, joined by many nurses, urged NIH to appoint a nurse as interim director. In any case, we congratulate Dr. Zenk on her appointment.
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An engaging Vox video argues that men should overcome regressive gender notions and enter nursing, which it calls the “robot-proof” “job of the future.” But the video itself reinforces the gendered angel stereotype that nursing is all about “caring and empathy,” ignoring the advanced scientific skills and critical judgments that modern nursing requires.
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Jason Silverstein posted a strong report showing that the widespread understaffing of U.S. nurses costs lives and burns out nurses. Commendably, the piece relied solely on nursing scholars and nursing research to make its points. It might have also explained how nurses save lives and addressed potential solutions to the problem.
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Creator Ryan Murphy describes the new show, about the iconic battle-axe nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as “an imagining of how this monster was created.” We have long feared the series will reinforce the harmful stereotyping of the original, which linked female nursing authority with malevolence. Will Ratched give viewers a sense that nurses are anything more than disturbed clinical abusers?
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April 2020 pieces highlight U.S. nurses advocating for safer practices despite efforts to silence them. Buzzfeed reported that a California hospital had suspended 10 nurses for refusing to care for Covid-19 patients without the N95 masks the physicians got. The nurses later got the masks. And the New York Times ran an op-ed by Theresa Brown about how she was forced to quit a clinical job because of her advocacy for safer practices, a dynamic that is now widespread in the Covid context.
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A May 2017 report addressed how “napping pods” can ease the effects of sleep deprivation on high school students. And an August 2017 piece described research finding that many postpartum nurses are ill-prepared to educate new mothers about risks to their health. Both reports show how nursing research can improve health.
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An April 2020 CBS News piece reported that National Nurses United had held a protest in front of the White House about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). The union argues that the CDC has weakened its standards for PPE, that OSHA has likewise failed to act, and that Congress and the White House have not mandated the production of enough PPE or testing supplies.
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In April 2020, U.S. nurses appeared in the media to tell the public why Covid-19 must be taken seriously and managed with social distancing measures. An anonymous California nurse did that forcefully in an installment of the Guardian’s “ER Diaries” series, explaining that Covid patients were pushing his hospital to the brink. And on PBS’s NewsHour a Miami nurse manager likewise pleaded for distancing, describing how challenging it is stay safe while providing critical care.
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