- Grey's AnatomyExecutive Producers
Introduce major nurse characters to do the nursing work (defibrillation, triage, 24/7 surveillance...)!
The global nursing shortage persists because of the gross underfunding of nursing clinical practice, education and research. Nursing is underfunded because it is undervalued. It is undervalued because of persuasive media depictions such as those in Grey's Anatomy that portray physicians doing the important work that real-life nurses do. Meanwhile the show's nurse characters barely exist or when they do, they are portrayed as worthy of contempt.
- Executive Producers
Dear Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Rob Corn, Marc Gordon, Joan Rater, and Tony Phelan:
I am writing to urge you to improve the generally poor portrayal of nursing on "Grey's Anatomy."
The show has long reinforced two of the most damaging nursing stereotypes: that nurses are physician handmaidens, and that they are low-skilled workers worthy of contempt.
The ninth season (2012-2013) was no exception. As usual, clinical plotlines wrongly told viewers that surgeons do virtually everything that matters in the hospital, including all the skilled monitoring, critical interventions, patient education, and patient advocacy—things that nurses do in real life. In the season finale, a major storm threatened the hospital, in a plotline seemingly based on what happened at NYU Langone Medical Center during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In real life, NYU nurses transported critical NICU patients to safety. But here, "Grey’s" surgeons appeared to staff the NICU pretty much by themselves, ventilating the babies and providing emotional support to distressed parents. You can see a full analysis of the season at www.truthaboutnursing.org/news/2013/may/greys.html
Unfortunately, the show has never had expert nurses act as clinical colleagues of the physician characters on a regular basis. Instead, nurse characters are generally limited to holding and fetching objects and saying "yes, doctor!" Meanwhile, the show's roughly 15 main characters--all surgeons--provide virtually all the real health care. The effect is that physicians get credit for the work of nurses.
Perhaps you are not aware that we are in the middle of a global nursing shortage. Nurses cannot give you the quality or quantity of nursing care you might need because nursing clinical practice, education, research and residencies are grossly underfunded. This underfunding is a direct result of the undervaluation of nursing. Too many decision makers think nursing does not matter. "Grey's Anatomy" reinforces stereotypes that fuel this undervaluation.
I urge you to consider the effect "Grey's" has on the many millions of people who watch it all over the world. Please introduce nurse characters to do the nursing work on every episode, and show viewers that nurses are autonomous professionals with years of college-level education who save lives and improve outcomes every day.
Thank you for your consideration.
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