Nursing Stereotypes in Media

 
I recently watched NYMED.  Good show.  One nurse looked directly into the camera to let viewers know that the most common question she is asked by patients in the ER is if she is single.  Other scenes involved patients commenting on the anatomy of nurses with them turning to the camera with an I can’t believe he just said that look.  NYMED is reality television.  This article was already a draft when THE DOCTORS (a fav show along with Dr. Oz)  conducted man-in-street interviews showing random people two photos –one of a nurse wearing blue medical scrubs; the other showing a scantily clad so-called hot nurse. They randomly asked people which nurse would you want treating you? Most picked the hot nurse.  I wondered if the perception of the nursing profession in the media affects or distorts reality.
 
Sandy and Harry Summers think it most certainly does. They co-wrote a series in 2010 called, “The Image of Nursing: Does nursing’s media image matter?” They are also the authors of “Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk.”
The authors write: “In these ubiquitous media products nurses are portrayed as ‘no more than submissive helpers of the physicians who do everything that matters.'”
 

Benissa Salem, a former news freelancer at ABC is a Masters prepared Registered Nurse (RN).  She is currently a PhD candidate at the UCLA School of Nursing. She agrees saying calling nursing handmaidens undervalues their contributions to academia, research, and evidence-based practice. As a research nurse, she is on the front lines in Los Angeles, screening, educating homeless populations about Hepatitis A, B and C transmission, as well as HIV.
 
As a public health nurse, she teaches her clients how to protect themselves from communicable diseases, navigate healthcare systems, and reduce risky behaviors, which is contrary to what recent news suggests is a sexy or stupid stereotype garnered from YouTube or other television programs. Her dual background in journalism and nursing has undoubtedly prepared her to communicate effectively, educate, and raise awareness. Salem says, “Nurses comprise the largest group of healthcare providers; yet, many do not know what our profession encompasses. Nurses are academicians, researchers and clinical experts. However, the image of the nurse in the popular press is often limited in scope.”
 
 
Nurses are not only clinical experts, but health educators, teaching patients how to manage chronic disease processes, navigate healthcare systems and are ultimately patient advocates.  Sandy Summers, co-author of “Saving Lives” was an emergency department and intensive care nurse herself for many years and now runs a nonprofit advocacy organization called The Truth About Nursing. Her co-author, Harry Jacobs Summers, is a lawyer and senior adviser for the group.  “Saving Lives” delineates how ubiquitous negative portrayals of nursing are in today’s media, particularly three common stereotypes of nurses — the “Angel,” the “Sexy or Naughty Nurse” and the “Battle Axe.”  They argue these images of nursing degrade the profession by portraying nurses as vixens, saints, not college-educated health care workers with life and death responsibilities.
 
The popular medical television shows “ER,” “House,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice” and “Scrubs” receive the bulk of the authors complaints. They list numerous examples of nurses acting as “helpers” in these TV programs rather than autonomous and knowledgeable professionals.  Another problem is that popular television shows often show doctors doing nurse’s jobs: giving medications, checking intravenous (IV) medications, educating patients about treatment, and providing ongoing emotional support from shift to shift. Of course, the focus of the storyline is often on the physician, so it may simply be easier to write and follow if the doctors do all the work. But in real life, nurses are at the patient’s bedside for the majority of the time, helping to manage their care and provide adequate education and discharge planning.
 
Is all this hoopla simply a matter of semantics? Defining nurses as “helpers” is easier to say than “health educators.” Is it simply linguistic laziness? Afterall, we live in an LOL world with time deadlines necessitating that we say everything in 140 characters or less.  The New York Times also ran a story by Theresa Brown, R.N. blogged on Well blog about why stereotypes of nurses is bad for your health.  Brown also mentions the book “Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk.” 
 
“One of nurses’ most important professional roles is to act as an independent check on physician care plans to protect patients and ensure good care,” writes co-author, Sandy Summers. 
The popular medical television shows “ER,” “House,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice” and “Scrubs” receive the bulk of the authors complaints. They list numerous examples of nurses acting as “helpers” in these TV programs rather than autonomous and knowledgeable professionals.  One media caption is “Nurse Jackie,” airing on Showtime, which features Edie Falco as a capable nurse, although she’s also highly dysfunctional and hardly a role model.
 
Salem is passionate about health promotion/prevention and adamantly believes the perception of nurses in media should be composed of an understanding of the pillars of the profession, as well as, a realistic portrayal of the responsibilities, realities and challenges which nurses are confronted with in this health care climate. But, she says nurses need to be more vocal, share their knowledge and expertise, as well as, be afforded opportunities to have a voice in the media.  She certainly rises above the prevailing images and stereotypes.
 The Los Angeles-based Hollywood, Health & Society studies and manages health messages in media.  The Kaiser Family Foundation has also tackled how the public sees healthcare issues due to media.  There is a shortage of nurses, which is unsettling because there is a high demand for them. In an economy where jobs are scarce, educators should be highlighting the benefits of becoming a nurse. It’s a profession that not only deserves respect, but demands it.  The challenge to educate nurses may include a lack of educators or ones that are retiring.  The majority of the education is being broadcast by medical doctors, and not nurses. In fact, we see that nurses are overlooked as experts when news programs or media outlets need an opinion on a health issue. 
  
The media is a powerful entity, setting the tone and pace for our sociopolitical environment. Let’s develop realistic depictions on how nurses are portrayed, sending a positive message to young children and the community at large about the profession.
“It is imperative that the community at large is aware of the role and responsibilities of the nursing profession, as well as their clinical expertise, and contributions to academic research and evidence based practice,” Salem says. 
 
 Maybe it’s time for a television show called, THE NURSES.
 
 
 

Obesity or Greed Epidemic? by Maria Dorfner

It’s 2021 and this blog I wrote before blogs were even a thing back in 2005 still rings true. The question is where has all the funding to cure “The Obesity Epidemic” gone? Is anyone even keeping track of it. If one thing makes people MORE susceptible to poor outcomes from Covid or any other virus –it’s obesity.

Obesity isn’t about your size. It’s about body composition. Even thin people can have unhealthy fat surrounding their organs. Take your heart. Cardiovascular Disease ranks up there as the #1 killer of Americans.  What contributes to Cardiovascular Disease? Obesity.

The #1 Predictor of Your Health and Longevity is what you eat. Why haven’t Public Health Experts focused on this at the START of the Pandemic, when they had the undivided attention of people stuck at home WANTING to know what they could do to improve their overall health?

It’s been over a year from “15 days” and the ONLY MESSAGE to MILLIONS OF PEOPLE is wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds AND most importantly, get a vaccine.

It’s because they profit when you are obese and then chronically sick as a result. They will use Media to advertise all that fast food to you and serve it to you cheap.  If they can get you obese sooner –in childhood –well then they ill have a customer for their sick care sooner.

Have you ever seen what foods are served in food pantries to the most vulnerable? Highly processed foods with high sodium, junk food, sugar and sweets.  Have you ever looked inside a vending machine inside a Hospital Waiting Room?

Filled with soda and junk food.  It’s as if they don’t read the “health” studies OR are the studies really done to find out how to make people sick and then do THAT? Taxpayers shouldn’t be funding studies used to harm them instead of help them prevent and avoid illness.

None of what has been done by health experts and government officials since the pandemic began address underlying conditions, which are truly at the heart of poor health outcomes. If the virus and all its variants aren’t going away –public health experts need to be focused on educating millions of people about what they CAN do to improve their health.

PREVENTION isn’t covered by Health Insurance, which needs to change.  Purchasing healthy foods, gym memberships or any other tool that improves your daily habits SHOULD indeed be covered to either prevent or reverse obesity, which would prevent or reverse CHRONIC ILLNESS.

Today, we have Health Insurance that covers TREATMENT of diseases AFTER you’re already sick.

Physicians who have caught on to this paradox are already beginning to refer to the Healthcare System as The Sickcare System.  Our healthcare workers aren’t immune from  stress, unhealthy eating habits, lack of time for exercise and  burnout.  In fact, almost half of them report burnout and wanting to quit.

That’s unacceptable today. If the world has learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that HEALTH comes FIRST and that your mental health is most definitely tied to your physical health.

I have been shouting that for decades. The money is there to solve these problems. It’s time reallocate these funds to real life solutions, instead of simply treating things after it’s too late.

The following is the original blog written in 2005. Obesity in children and adults has risen since then.
Consequently, the States with the highest deaths from Cardiovascular Disease are also seeing the worst outcomes from Covid during this time.

The real problem isn’t the unvaccinated. It’s their underlying conditions, which aren’t being addressed until they show up in the hospital. Then, it’s marked as a death from Covid.


Today, as some docs want to regulate toxic sugar I’m reminded of a blog I wrote on this day in 2005:

June 4, 2005 – Every day we are bombarded with media messages about the “obesity epidemic“.  The AP puts a new story on its wires and TV news writers end up rewriting the wire copy for broadcast, so the propaganda ends up in our living rooms.

Who is distributing the Press Release? What is their motive? What have they got to gain by scaring the public into believing we’ve all got one foot in the grave? Turns out, a lot of folks have a lot of money to gain.

In 1988, the World Health Organization (WHO), officially declared obesity a disease. You can’t declare something a disease unless it’s widespread and statistics back it up.

Recently, we have seen how the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) admitted inflating those numbers. The CDC was able to receive about $40 million dollars a year allocated towards obesity based on their previous numbers.

In 1993, a study by McGinnis & William Foege, M.D. published in JAMA estimated that the most prominent contributors to mortality in the U.S. were, in order, tobacco, diet and activity patterns, alcohol, microbial agents, toxic agents and firearms with “dietary patterns and sedentary lifestyle being the most common source of unnecessary death and disease among Americans“.

That was 19 years ago, yet we keep getting told the same information as if it’s new.

They want us to believe that obesity has surpassed tobacco deaths. Maybe the people who quit smoking started eating.  Although, the alarming number of deaths due to obesity that Foege quoted back then were the same wrong numbers derived from the CDC.

Obesity programs are funded primarily by the National Center for Chronic Disease and Prevention. There’s that word “disease” again. The budget? $747,472,000.

Turns out, a lot of folks want to get their hands on that money under the guise of conducting “obesity research”. The Medicaid Obesity Treatment Act of ’01 required medicare prescription drug coverage to cover drugs medically necessary to cover obesity.

By declaring obesity a disease many unhealthy strategies for weight loss (stomach stapling, liposuction, diet pills, body wraps, herbal remedies, etc.) might become warranted. Doctors could justifiably use these treatments and feel confident that they are improving the client’s health simply by decreasing his or her weight.


Pharmaceutical companies would be able to market their quick fix pills and quacks could promote radical diets that promote fast weight loss. It must be emphasized that the effect of these treatments would only be temporary since they don’t address long-term behavior change, such as lifetime physical activity and improved dietary habits. In addition, even if weight loss is achieved and maintained there is no guarantee that it will be accompanied with health benefits.

It’s bureaucracy growing in inverse proportion to its effectiveness. It can justify more government taxing under the guise of “tax policy as a social engineering tool”. There are so many special interest groups that want us to buy into the obesity epidemic under their insatiable search for funding. When the truly obese do not respond to their efforts — then they go after the mainstream. More numbers enables them to justify their perpetual fundraising efforts.

The so-called obesity epidemic brings in revenue. In order for these organizations to keep the money rolling in they have to expand the nationwide guilt trip and falsify numbers. The motive is money. Plain and simple.

Foundations redirect their funding when a new disease pops up. Millions of dollars in grants have been awarded under the “obesity epidemic” war. There’s some obese person out there somewhere who seriously needs help and doesn’t have money, but that person probably never gets help.

If these foundations really want to help people, why not make the grant application open to the obese individuals instead of research institutions and organizations that keep getting grants merely to reinforce that a problem exists. That would cost less and help more.

Long-term diet and exercise modifications are the only effective lifestyle changes that affect obesity. It doesn’t take billions of dollars to make people aware of that. Yes, some people have a genetic predisposition towards obesity, but even they can make changes in their eating and activity level.

Stop lowering the threshold for who is considered obese, so that more and more people fall into a category so companies can sell more drugs to them. So far, adults, children, elderly and even newborn babies have been included in this ever-expanding “Greed” epidemic.

A lot of wallets expand along with waistlines, and consumers need to be wary of studies and research reports that keep reinforcing the same ol’, same ‘ol with a new twist. The new twist is usually a result of some people sitting in a room saying, “We have to figure out to get more money” from this.

How does telling you you’re fat get them more money? Because then you go to the doctor and ask for help. He recommends drugs or surgery. Fast food? The government puts another “sin tax” on it. What’s next? A “sin tax” for computers and televisions because after all, they do contribute to inactivity. Let’s not forget the lawyers who benefitted from tobacco settlements who would love to go after another big industry as well.

[by Maria Dorfner, NewsMD Communications, originally posted on a blog Saturday, June 04, 2005 @ 7:45 PM

newsmdcommunications.blogspot.com/Cached]
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2012 UPDATE – 7 years later.  The headlines as predicted want to include MORE PEOPLE in this “epidemic”. More people. More money.   The headline should be:  Obe$ity Greed Epidemic Much Worse Than Americans Believe.

Study: American Obesity Epidemic Much Worse Than CDC Believes

The traditional measures of obesity are inadequate, according to a new report

April 2, 2012 RSS Feed Print

The American obesity epidemic might be much worse than many experts believe because of the limitations of the Body Mass Index, which is the most popular number used to diagnose the condition…

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pets are included now.

Statistics tell us there is no change in this epidemic.

A recent article I read by Pope in the New York Times backs this up.  It’s not because there are a lack of medications.  I begin to wonder if all these pills are merely placebos.  The side effects that kill tells me that’s not the case.  At least not in a few batches.

Here’s a link to all the pharmaceutical drugs available to treat obesity. http://www.drugs.com/condition/obesity.html

There is also an organization called Obesity in America.  The website is www.obesityinamerica.org.  It was created to educate, legislate and reverse obesity. It will also feed information to reporters. That’s enough sugar-coated sweetness to make one obese.

There are people who require medical intervention.  They need to be the focus here.   I cry if I watch The Biggest Loser.  I can feel their pain.  I often wonder why God didn’t create bodies that stayed exactly the same no matter how you eat.  Why do people have to suffer over how their bodies look or how they perceive their bodies to look?  Why is it so hard to lose and so easy to gain?

Being thin doesn’t make you immune to stress and challenges either.  It’s easy to blame extra weight for every problem in your life. When that extra weight is gone –it gets harder because when you discover the problems are still there you begin to feel even worse. Only now you can’t comfort yourself with ring dings.  It’s a vicious cycle.  You absolutely have to have new coping mechanisms and habits to deal with any triggers that made you reach for comfort food in the past.

On “The Biggest Loser” people are led to believe that once they lose the weight, they will be happy.   Many of these people actually look into the camera and exclaim, “I’m SO happy now!”   Happiness doesn’t work like that.  You could be happy obese.  Obesity doesn’t make you unhappy.   Happiness does not rely on external factors.   Once you attach it to an external factor –it will crash because things do not stay the same. They change. Look at nature if you want to understand how this works.  If you can change, yet stay the same –you will be happy.   Your habits result from your beliefs.

Establishing good habits from childhood is so important.  Habits are things we do automatically.  When I was a kid, we ran outside to play after school.  They will tell you being poor or being stressed will make you a fat kid. That is baloney.

Bikeriding was big after school. So was jogging, touch football, tag or stoopball right on the steps. And I played tennis with Rob Bonomolo in grade school. We learned how from watching “Hart to Hart” on television. Jump rope was big after lunch in the lunchroom. Susan Favola, Lorelei Donofrio and I made sure to cover the entire alphabet while jumping.

What belief system did we have then? We associated being outdoors with freedom. Freedom from homework (presumably that was done before you ran outside), freedom from sitting in a stuffy classroom, freedom from work, freedom from carrying heavy books, freedom from wearing a uniform.

We could dump our way too heavy book bags, get into comfortable clothing and run free.

Think about that feeling. Close your eyes. Fresh air. Running. Not a worry in the world. We weren’t sitting staring at screens. We were active outdoors. Flying free. Like birds.

Wrong photo.  Those birds are sedentary.  You get the picture.   Visualize flying ones.
If the economy were as it is right now when I was growing up and my Dad was out of a job –I would still run outside and play, even more.

You don’t need Big Brother telling you you have a disease and you’re part of an epidemic that is bigger than HIV (it’s not).

Maybe if the government focused on fixing the economy, as much as they focus on fixing your waistline, the stress would go away for the unemployed, underemployed, single mothers, single fathers, uninsured and kids.

It’s not an epidemic.  Thinking that releases the exact kind of stressful hormones  you don’t want in your body.  Remain calm.  It’s your private health. Take care of it one day at a time.

Make good choices.  Stay positive.   You are going to be okay.  Lifestyle changes and changing your daily habits one day at a time, until it becomes your long-term habits is what will change your health for the better. Preventing disease is something these organizations will NOT profit from –but you will.

Again, you need to educate yourself about healthy habits, healthy foods and daily exercise. Some people will say it’s genetics and they can’t help it. If you know you have a genetic predisposition for obesity, you have a warning. You know that if you don’t do something different, you will have the same outcome as a family member. You can make lifestyle changes that will and can improve your outcome.

I keep repeating 25% of your health is determined by genetics. 75% is lifestyle. Change your lifestyle and you can change your outcome.

Otherwise, others will continue to profit from your illness. It  will also make you more susceptible to other illnesses.

Look up how to reverse (insert whatever) naturally, and you will find a lot of information that for years has been called “quackery” because as I stated –no one can profit from you being healthy.