Fighting De-Nursification

Barbara Ficarra recently interviewed Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN, Executive Director of The Center for Nursing Advocacy. Barbara Ficarra and Sandy Summers talk about the image of nurses and why nurses are misrepresented in the media and by Hollywood. Sandy talks about how there is a “denursification” of nurses because of the way nurses are portrayed in the media.

8 thoughts on “Fighting De-Nursification

  1. Thank you for a lively discussion about the problems of respect with the nursing profession.

    History shows that professions (or people) do not elevate their status by being REACTIVE- only by being PROACTIVE! By merely begging for the attention of “important” people with a list of our complaints, nurses will NEVER get the respect we deserve. Respect is earned by rising above a difficult situation, offering solutions and leading the way to a better place. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. (who led a much more oppressed group than nurses….), “I have a dream!”

    I applaud all nurses who take the risk to step out of the box and bring attention to the needs of patient care and the nursing profession. Now, let’s take it one step further and share our expertise with the world! Please take EVERY opportunity to speak with the media. If you are afraid, there are classes to take. Toastmasters and Rotary clubs are two great, supportive ways to learn public speaking and contribute locally to community awareness on a smaller scale.

    Let’s rock the boat- NOW is the time!!!

  2. A problem that needs to be addressed on a public level to initiate change and perception of nurses and what we do. I’m not sure how it will be done but unfortunately, I refer to this problem as the red light syndrome. That is, you have a corner with high traffic and you don’t get a light until a lot of people die!!

  3. Nurses in the Media: Fighting De-Nursification
    by Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

    It was at the American Medical Association’s Medical Communications Conference when the words of Julie Gerberding, M.D., Director for the CDC validated what is imminent in the minds of some nurses, or at least mine; that it is both health care professionals at the bedside, doctors and nurses that make excellent medical communicators.

    Nurses are generally regarded as being kind, compassionate and angelic. What is not generally recognized are their sharp assessment skills, educational expertise and the vital and often primary role a nurse plays in providing quality health care. Yet it is this combination of compassion, understanding and expertise that makes nurses a perfect choice as advocates and educators in health care. This is the message that the nursing profession needs to convey to the public and the media at large.

    A large part of the current image problem is attributable to nurses themselves. As a group, nurses tend to be silent and passive, willing to assume a supporting role in the healthcare industry. Until they change their self-perception of their importance within the health care community, nurses will never receive the recognition they deserve. Nurses need to stand tall as a strong group of professionals with a strong voice. Contrary to the opinion of some nurses in the industry, nurses do possess the power to improve their image. It all begins with nurses recognizing themselves as the health professionals that they truly are and stepping forward to utilize their knowledge and expertise to educate the public.

    Perhaps the lack of enthusiasm for becoming vocal in the media is a remnant from the shortage of nurses. Overworked, underpaid, burnt-out, lack of respect, stressful work environment, poor interdisciplinary team approach and lack of communication within the system are all symptoms of the present nursing shortage; nonetheless nurses cannot afford to take a step back. Nurses must be pro-active and speak out as advocates on behalf of their chosen profession.

    First and foremost, nurses must consider themselves communicators; after all constant communication with patients, families and other healthcare professionals occurs on a daily basis. Communicators, from helping a patient and family member reduce their anxiety of the unknown, advocating for their patient, explaining a procedure, educating them on medications, questioning a physician’s order, offering a voice of reassurance or a hand that saves a life; always a communicator, always professional.

    If nurses want society to recognize them as a strong group of educated men and women, nurses must do whatever it takes to get their voices heard. There are always excuses why something cannot be done. Change does not occur with excuses, change occurs through effort. Nurses must step forward and out-of-the-box so society can recognize them as true professionals. Nurses must be ready to go beyond the day to day and give more of themselves to make it happen. After all, don’t you truly deserve to be recognized?

    There are many avenues available to help nurses become active in communications. One such conference is The American Medical Association’s Medical Communication Conference. The AMA’s Medical Communications Conference is a must for medical professionals who want to learn first hand media training. The National Association of Medical Communicators is an excellent association to join for those interested in medical communications. Bottom line, we can do this together for the benefit of us all.

    Thank you once again to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) for the Journalism Award of Excellence for the Health in 30™ Radio Show on the “Ins and Outs of the ER.”

    – Barbara Ficarra RN, BSN, MPA is an award-winning journalist and the creator/host/executive producer of Health in 30™ radio show which airs live Fridays from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST, broadcasts on WRCR-AM 1300 and streams live online at She is also the medical show host and executive producer of Nurses in Motion™ and Health in 30™ at ScribeMedia.Org.

  4. One of the obstacles to the elevation of nursing, as a profession and in the eyes of the public, is the fact that nurses are employees and are beholden to their employers for their livelihoods. My mortage payment and my family’s wellbeing are more important than my own personal political views on the role of nursing, and so considering that equation, I am likely to stay quiet about the things that disquieten me. The voice that promotes nursing will have to be a collective one. Is unionisation of all nurses an idea who’s time has come?
    Another obstacle is not the media portrayal of nursing but the actual reality of nurses themselves; in my facility they are usually overweight, ill looking and cigarette smokers. They also sound poorly educated. I wouldn’t want most of them to look after me, they just do not come across in a professional manner. If you act like a professional, then perhaps you be respected as a professional.
    Brian Plumley LPN, ADN student

  5. Thank you for highlighting issues important to the nursing profession and for identifying how the de-nursification of nursing impacts the profession of nursing. It is important for students of nursing and practicing nurses to become involved in protecting and elevating the image of nursing.

  6. I found this presentation very well done. I agree that nurses need to harness the opportunities with the media. I have been told more than once not to speak to the media when they were going to be at my (old) facility. My facility in fact replaced RN’s in the ED with unlicensed secretaries acting as techs and giving us LPN’s. We fought this – I lead the fight. Then they cut the RN’s to 2 for a 14 bed ED. I quit, as well as 2 other RN’s. I would gladly speak with the media if I were ever asked. Nursing is extremely important to me. I have my BSN and currently, I am working on a dual masters degree.

  7. I was very impressed with this footage. My sister who is also a nurse told me that a number of the nurses at her facility were replaced by medical technicians. Programs like this is definitely needed to get the word out there that we are a vital part of healthcare. I am presently working on my BSM/MSN. I have a more heightened awareness of the need to make our work known to the public.

  8. I find the concerpt, de-nursification a very inspiring topic indeed. there are many nurses who are disgrundled about the nursing profession and choose to opt out of the profession into either business or politics for financial reasons.These nurses completely deregister and never call or assosiate themselves with nursing profession anymore. I think they will never again speak well of nursing and the public would not even know they are trained nurses or possess invaluable skills acquired through training as nurses. I find it astonishingly strange too, that these so-called former nurses use the same skills to explore new ventures outside nursing, but are not informing the public about their powerful nursing background. This would, in my own opinion, improve the image of the nursing profession.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>