Don't let new Nurse Ratched show be an American Horror Story for real nurses!
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The new Netflix series “Ratched” will reportedly be an origin story based on the archetypal battle-axe nurse character from the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Unfortunately, the Nurse Ratched character embodies the battle-axe stereotype of nursing, the idea that any female nurse in authority must be a repressed maternal tyrant bent on torturing patients and emasculating innocent, freedom-loving men. This misogynous portrayal, which links female power with insidious oppression, has spawned countless copies and variations in ensuing decades. The battle-axe and other media stereotypes have played a key role in the global nursing shortage that takes countless lives every year, especially through under-staffing; the world needs millions more nurses than it has been willing to pay for. In fact, nurses as a class are not sociopathic monsters, but college-educated science professionals of all genders who monitor, evaluate, educate, advocate for, and save patients. Research shows that having too few nurses increases patient mortality--and that popular media stereotypes play a role in undermining nurses' claims to respect and resources. It’s critical to ask those involved with “Ratched” to avoid reinforcing a devastating stereotype, and if the show happens, to introduce some nuance in the title character and feature other nurse characters with some of the positive traits of real nurses, such as expertise, courage, decency, and a healthy sexuality. Thank you!
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