Give Nurse Jackie a Chance
Since Nurse Jackie’s first episode aired on Showtime this week, a backlash has developed against the show. Why? Because nurses are confusing documentaries with TV entertainment. Some nursing organizations, ones which I actually admire, are asking the show to put a disclaimer on that Nurse Jackie doesn’t represent the profession. I think this is a mistake. Of course, she doesn’t. Neither does House, and his cast of ridiculous M.D.s . Neither does Grey’s Anatomy, whose docs function in an almost nurseless institution. But the American Medical Association and other medical organizations don’t ask for disclaimers on TV doctor shows. Frankly, I think asking for things like disclaimers from TV producers is not a good strategy. It suggests that nurses are naive. That they are excessively thin skinned and don’t understand the realities of the TV drama medium. Time would be better spent doing hundreds of op-eds and letters to the editor explaining why Nurse Jackie has the problem she has. Why is she working so much voluntary overtime? It’s undoubtedly because her hospital doesn’t have enough nurses and so routinely staffs by asking nurses to stay late. Why is she in so much pain? Is it because her hospital doesn’t install lift equipment and so she, like so many other nurses, suffered an unnecessary back, neck or shoulder injury? Why is she under so much stress? Is it because she lacks authority on the job? Look at the dispute she got into with the doc on the first episode. What that shows is how docs treat nurses. Marshall the studies by Rosenstein to show how much of a pattern this really is. Don’t get hung up on the outrageous details. Remember, this is TV. It’s entertainment. Keep your eye on the prize, which is that Jackie is smart, feisty, compassionate. Yes, she violates ethics and this that and the other thing. In real life nurses hopefully don’t do this (although, let’s not forget that the system asks them to violate patient safety every time a unit is short staffed or nurses are allowed to work too long, either voluntarily or because they are required to do so). Let’s see how Nurse Jackie develops. Give her a chance.