Nurse Jackie, the American show airing on BBC every Saturday, features the eponymous character who can’t get through a shift without recreational drugs.
She tends to get her stash from the hospital, so she’s a thief as well. Plenty of other television programmes portray nurses as unfeeling, workshy, substance-abusing nymphomaniacs.
In last week’s Nursing Times, Sandy and Harry Jacobs Summers said it was up to nurses to make the media show the profession in a better light. But the image of nursing is a difficult one. Even nurses don’t agree on it. Some are uncomfortable with being termed “angels”, while others are happy to have the label.
The nursing world is diverse. Nurses don’t even all wear the same clothing or use the same equipment. Even the stethoscope on this week’s cover may not say “nurse” to some, while others will see it as a relevant symbol. Nurses do not have a standard job description, standard responsibilities or standard places of work.
Some nurses want to take on an increased responsibility for decision-making under the NHS reforms. Nursing Times has been campaigning to ensure nurses have a place on commissioning consortia. If you haven’t signed our petition already, sign it today.
A seat on the board campaign
Nurses stood up for these rights at King’s College London’s Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery breakfast last week. Health minister Anne Milton was given an emotional account of how the government’s reforms were seeing the “haemorrhaging” of several “excellent” nurse commissioners from PCTs. They claimed many GPs would wield their power and try and keep nurses out of decision-making.
To be taken seriously, nurses need the media to appreciate their value and portray them as intelligent professionals - as they do with GPs. We’ll be sending our campaign to national newspapers to ensure they understand how vital nursing is to the procurement of care in the NHS, so sign today to show your support.