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News on nursing in the media

Are nurses getting the respect they need to save lives?

December 13, 2019


  1. In a radical move, Grey's Anatomy actually shows a nurse doing the nursing work--for 30 seconds. Encourage the show to continue!
  2. The Coalition for Better Understanding of Nursing is planning its first conference for October 2020. Let's join together to empower nurses! Date and place coming soon.​
  3. Sign all our petitions: Grey's AnatomyGoogle/Ascension/Project Nightingale, NIH/NINRCardi B, The Good Doctor, Ratched, Amy Schumer, Family Feud.
  4. Thank you to all who supported our Giving Tuesday campaign and our t-shirt fundraiser! But we are less than half way to meeting our year-end goal. Please click here to help us get there!  With more funding we can do more and more to advocate for nursing and make a better tomorrow. Together, we can do it! Thank you!

News Summaries

Because stereotypes

Grey’s Anatomy offers a good nursing portrayal...for 30 seconds 

The ABC hospital drama has aired 350 episodes telling the world that only surgeons matter and nurses are clinical clutter, as we show in our new analyses of seasons 12-15 (below). But one brief scene in the 16th season, which aired in November 2019, actually had a nurse provide expert advice to a patient. Join us in urging Grey's to show more nurses doing the nursing!

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Grey's Anatomy

A quiet place

Nurses remain silent and submissive on 15th straight season of Grey’s Anatomy 

The ABC drama continued to offer a vision of hospital care in which surgeons did everything, at one point even providing all care for a sexual assault victim. There was a brief appearance by the assertive senior nurse Frankie, but she was mostly there to die tragically in childbirth, despite the heroics of the surgeons.

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Grey's Anatomy

She’s too good for you

Grey’s Anatomy is a little bit sorry about that “skanky syph nurse” thing 

In the ABC show’s 14th season, Nurse Olivia returned with some verbal payback for surgeon Alex Karev. But the hospital drama continued to focus on heroic physicians, while nurses were low-skilled serfs who could, at most, alert the physicians to problems that the physicians alone could solve.

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Grey's Anatomy

This is scut

On Grey's Anatomy, only a few handmaidens can hope to reach battle-axe status 

Nurses in the show's 13th season were mostly meek servants taking physician orders, when they appeared at all. One episode did portray a nurse managing a primary care clinic. But he was a quasi-battle-axe, a petty bureaucrat obsessed with protecting his turf and resenting physicians, not helping patients.

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Tamir and Alex

Wondering how long

More physician nursing in season 12 of Grey’s Anatomy

The season was especially physician-centric, with surgeons triaging, diagnosing, treating, monitoring, intervening, advocating, educating. Nurses were absent or peripheral, appearing on occasion to hold things, get commands, or tell one physician about the needs or location of another physician.

Take Action!
Grey's season 12

The Coalition for Better Understanding of Nursing is planning its first conference for October 2020. Join us to empower nursing! Exact date and place coming soon.

We will soon start collecting abstracts related to the topic of how you or someone you know has improved public understanding of nursing. So please start thinking about what you want to present. And stay tuned!

Speaking engagements

Association for Leadership Science in Nursing hosts panel with Truth director Sandy Summers at UCLA conference

November 22, 2019 - Truth About Nursing executive director Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, appeared at the annual conference of the Association for Leadership Science in Nursing (ALSN) on a panel about improving public understanding of nursing. The three-day conference, held from November 7-9, 2019 at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), was aimed at clinical and academic nursing leaders. The three-person panel was moderated by David Bailey, RN, MSN, MBA, Chief Nursing Officer, UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. Also on the panel was nurse Johnese Spisso, President of UCLA Health, CEO of the UCLA Hospital System, and Associate Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences. Ms. Spisso discussed nursing innovation at UCLA and why it is worthy of public attention. The third panel member was UCLA nursing professor MarySue Heilemann, an authority on the public image of nursing and a member of the Truth's advisory panel, who spoke on nursing in the public's imagination of nursing. Dr. Heilemann discussed her theories regarding gendered stereotypes of nurses and explained how rarely nursing depictions fall on the spectrum in between stereotypes, where real nurses reside. And Sandy Summers spoke on why the media matters to nursing, featuring some of the Truth's successes in changing the media over the years. She also gave the hospital and nursing school leaders advice on some concrete steps they might take to improve public understanding of nursing. We thank Joyce Batcheller, RN, DNP, FAAN for inviting Sandy Summers to the panel, as well as UCLA and the Association for Leadership Science in Nursing.

David Bailey

David Bailey, RN, MSN, MBA

Johnese Spisso

Nurse Johnese Spisso, CEO of UCLA Health Services

MarySue Heilemann

MarySue Heilemann, RN, PhD, FAAN

Sandy Summers

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH

Sign all of our petitions. Demand respect for nursing!

After 348 tries, Grey's Anatomy portrayed a nurse doing the nursing work of educating a patient. Encourage Grey's to continue and bring on more nurse characters to do the nursing instead of the surgeons who almost always do it.

Send a letter to NIH

Why is a biologist directing nursing research funded by the US government?

Amy Schumer

Inside Amy Schumer used vicious anti-nurse stereotypes

Don't let this be a search result for "Nightingale. "New Google / Ascension project has already breached nursing’s data security.

Cardi B needs education as to why the naughty nurse damages the nursing profession

Cardi B needs education as to why the naughty nurse damages the nursing profession

Steve Harvey

Family Feud uses naughty nurses and battleaxes as a mainstay of its "jokes"

Send a letter to The Good Doctor

The Good Doctor strongly reinforces the stereotype that nurses are low-skilled physician lackeys who are barely involved in hospital care.

Ratched petition

Netflix and Ryan Murphy plan two-season TV origin story for Nurse Ratched, one of the most damaging anti-nurse stereotypes in history, releasing this fall.

We can turn $5/month into a more empowered nursing profession. Join us?


Planning your curriculum?

We have ideas

Many nursing professors rely on the extensive and varied materials on the Truth's website to help their students engage with critical issues nurses will face in the future, from their public image to key aspects of nursing education, practice, and advocacy. Since 2001, we have explored and analyzed how the global media and society in general has seen the nursing profession. Join your colleagues and use this material to help plan your curriculum! Please consider some of these ideas... 

Curriculum planning

Speaking Engagements

Having an event? Book the Truth About Nursing's founder and executive director today!

Let Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, empower your nurses and help them fully embrace their autonomy!

Patients deserve better protection. Let Sandy help your nurses and students fully embrace their autonomy to strengthen nursing care, reduce errors and improve care! Sandy speaks widely to a variety of international nursing groups. Click here to see details and book her today!

Sandy Summers


How can nurses become fierce advocates?

Sandy Summers delivered an empowering message to new graduates at graduation speech at Widener University's Nightingale ceremony last week

In a short, compelling address, Sandy Summers welcomes new graduates to the field of nursing and inspires them to become fierce patient advocates--to put patients' interests first. Sandy explains her holistic vision of nursing advocacy and shares strategies to help nurses find their voices. She highlights areas in need of our advocacy and offers perspectives on how to overcome the resistance we meet when we challenge the world to do better. Nursing advocacy saves lives, and our patients need us to do it. So please join Sandy and let’s get started!

Widener University


Imagine a world where nurses were fully empowered to protect patients

Get an author-signed copy of Saving Lives for you or a friend

Saving Lives is the transformative book acclaimed by nurses, nursing leaders, scholars, and the media. It can help your friends, colleagues, and students be the strong nurses our profession needs to protect patients from errors, injuries, and disease. See praise for Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk by leaders in nursing and the media as well as the awards it has earned, including three Book of the Year awards from the American Journal of Nursing and an award from Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing. The updated second edition from Oxford University Press is now available! All donations and royalties go directly to support The Truth About Nursing, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Thank you for your support!

Saving Lives book cover

Think about the future

New international text Nurses and Nursing leads off with chapter by Truth leaders

The exciting new textbook Nurses and Nursing: The Person and the Profession includes a chapter on nursing's image by Truth leaders Sandy Summers and Harry Jacobs Summers. Edited by Padraig O Luanaigh, RN, EdD, the thought-provoking new textbook from Routledge "draws on international contributors with a range of backgrounds to explore, engage with and challenge readers in understanding the many aspects and elements that inform and influence contemporary nursing practice." Our chapter is "Nursing's public image: Toward a professional future." We thank Dr. Luanaigh for the opportunity to be a part of this important new project. Please consider this book for your classes in professionalism, nursing and society, and nursing leadership. Click here to request a free copy for review now! See more about the book here...

Nurses and Nursing book cover

Change the world with us!

Your support is what makes it possible for us to improve public understanding of nursing -- one media image at a time. Please make a generous donation today. Thank you!

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