Authors

  1. Miracle, Vickie A. RN, EdD, CCRN, CCNS, CCRC

Article Content

I was so excited when I heard that several new fictional television shows were planned for the new television season in the fall of 2009 that featured nurses. One of these actually had the nurse's name and RN in the title. I sincerely hoped these dramas would more accurately portray real-life nursing care. I, once again, was extremely disappointed. After years of not watching medical dramas such as "House," "Grey's Anatomy," and the last several years of "ER," I was looking forward to a drama that depicted more accurately the role of the nurse. I guess it is not meant to be this season.

 

Why are many current shows depicting nurses as handmaidens to physicians or sex objects? Why are nurses seldom seen on many of these shows? Why do physicians on these shows perform nursing responsibilities? In some shows, a nurse may never been seen unless he/she is being reprimanded because a doctor deemed it so. Why do the nurses in the show, if seen at all, say, "I am just a nurse" or "because the doctor said so"? Why are these shows displaying doctors saying, "I am the doctor, and you are just a nurse" or "you take orders only and not to think." I even had a student tell me she wanted to be a nurse so she could meet and marry a cute doctor like the ones on "Grey's Anatomy."

 

I had great hope for one of the new television shows. However, I was disappointed in the first 15 minutes when the "nurse" worked with a psychotic patient, found a newborn baby outside the door of the emergency department, started a scalp intravenous line on an infant, worked with a patient in oncology, and make certain policies and procedures were followed. All in the first 15 minutes! I came to three conclusions in these first 15 minutes: (1) the show must be a comedy; (2) this was one "super nurse"; or (3) I have been sorely lacking in organizational skills for the past 30 years. I was exhausted just watching this super nurse.

 

I decided to watch another new fictional medical drama. Within the first 13 minutes, the "nurse" hit a patient with her fist, worked in several departments, and then kissed one of the "doctors." Needless to say, I turned this show off immediately as well.

 

Over the past several years, I have tried to watch television shows that accurately depicted the role of the nurse. "ER" did a fairly good job during the first few years, but it even drifted more to a show about physicians and delegated the role of the nurses to the background.

 

Instead of constantly complaining about the shows, I have tried writing the major television studios, producers, and directors of these shows. None of my letters has ever received a reply. So I do what I can and boycott the shows. This is one act I can do to voice my displeasure.

 

However, sometimes when I need a break, I may turn on these television medical dramas (or comedies) just to laugh. They can be entertaining even if they are not accurate. Sometimes, they are just good for a laugh, and I do believe laughter is good for the body, mind, and soul.

 

So if you feel these shows do not accurately depict the role of nurses, make your concerns known to the studios, writers, and producers. Consider not watching except when you need a good laugh.

 

I would like to see a show about real nurses. Let a camera crew follow a real critical care nurse and record his/her actions during a routine shift. This would truly be an eye-opening experience for the viewing public.

 

Now on to another subject. Happy National Nurses Week! Remember, you are a key and essential active participant in healthcare and in the care of your critically ill patients. Celebrate your profession. Tell people what nurses really do in their chosen profession. Thank a mentor or a colleague. Send a thank-you note to a teacher who made a significant difference in your career. Show those fake "nurses" on television what real nurses do every day.

 

So in closing, thank you for all you do for your profession. I appreciate everything you do, and I hope you will continue if you practice for a long time. Moreover, if I am ever one of your patients, I want one of you to be my nurse, not one of those "super nurses" on television.

 

Respectfully submitted:

 

Vickie A. Miracle, EdD, RN, CCRN, CCNS, CCRC

 

Editor, DCCN, and Lecturer

 

Bellarmine University School of Nursing Louisville, KYvmiracle@aol.com