1. Pearson, Linda J. RN, FNP, FPMHNP, APRN-BC, MSN, DNSc, Editor-in-Chief

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A society cultivates whatever is honored there. It is important for us to know what we honor - Plato


Plato, a Greek philosopher who lived around 350 BC said it right. Our society and media should more consistently 'honor' the invaluable contributions of nurses throughout all aspects of health care. Whether a result of lazy journalism or power and economic motives, physicians often receive all 'the credit' for achievements, when truthfully, many dedicated advanced practice nurses (APNs) and RNs deserve at least equal accolades.


Put APNs in the Spotlight

One small case in point: A few months ago, CNN reported at length about a mobile medical unit saving lives in Iraq. The entire report focused on the brave surgeons, but failed to mention the surgical nurses who were undoubtedly just as critical and brave. This is typical of media reporting. Journalists tend to credit physicians for all the successes and improvements in health care.


Society must honor nurses so we can more broadly influence business and government policy makers to improve our broken health care system. APNs must ensure that the media discontinues its relative indifference to nursing, and instead honors the worth and contributions of our profession. With over 100,000 APNs in the U.S., we have an awesome potential to increase public voice and visibility, and show how integral we are to our nation's health. No one but us can explain what we do or how indispensable we are to our patients.


One relatively easy way to impact the press is for each of us to write a Letter to the Editor or op-ed. APNs and RNs have a numbers advantage over the power of money that organized medicine has to make physicians appear more valuable or critical in health care issues. Let's use our power in numbers to get the message out.


It takes only a few calls to get the attention of most editors. Many times, journalists and health care writers have space and air time for a good story. APNs and RNs are often the innovators of health care techniques and management approaches, yet physicians typically step into media's knowledge void and claim the credit for the success. Let's vow to tell the world what we do.


Tell Your Story

The media values timely personal reports that impact large groups of people and describe prominent issues, places, conflicts, or scandals. News coverage doesn't happen by accident- APNs must cultivate relationships with journalists who cover health care issues. Focus your story or message about APNs in a newsworthy way. Explain how APNs understand patient needs and/or prevent or solve problems in a unique way.


Each of us can send an e-mail or call the media whenever we see inaccurate or unbalanced reporting. Respond promptly when a media report requires correction. Address media errors, encourage positive RN coverage, educate people about nursing, and make nursing visible. Do not seek publicity for your own practice or business. Instead, focus on themes such as "nursing stories the media fails to cover" or "the missing voices in health care". Stick to the facts. Incorporate real-life experiences and describe what you do. Make sure each sentence contains accurate quotes, opinions, material, or allegations.


Be clear, concise and brief. When writing your letter or op-ed, envision you must pay $1 for each word. Create sentences that would qualify as powerful bumper stickers. Be certain that your spelling and syntax are accurate as most journalists equate intelligence to the proper use of the English language. Keep trying and do not take rejection as a 'sign'. It's all about percentages. The more you send, the higher the chance your important message will be published.


The power of the pen is awesome. APNs must personally commit to making the media accountable to include "the rest of the story". APNs must convince the public that we are storehouses of human insight and health care expertise. Let us be heard!