Look on The Atlantic.com for article on Nurse Jackie

I just wrote another article that you might want to look at on Nurse Jackie.  Here is the link.


I’ve now seen all 12 episodes and the series gets better and better.  What troubles me about people’s responses to the show is that so few people have actually seen it and yet feel free to critique it.

As for Hawthorne, it just gets worse and worse.  The other week Hawthorne, interfered with a DNA order from a woman who wanted to die, and threw herself in front of physicians who had decided to end a code on yet another patient.  She continued pummeling the patient with paddles even though he was gone.  This is a total insult to nurses who, in most cases, are begging physicians to stop futile treatment on patients who should be allowed to die.  The writers of Hawthorne should check out the SUPPORT study.  The to add insult to injury, Hawthorne’s teenage daughter was roaming around the hospital shooting video of patients.  Apparently HIPPA is a thing of the past.  I’d love to see more comments and conversation on these issues, so please write in.

Showing 6 comments
  • Gregg T., NP

    It seems to me, if we are to re-capture the sanity of nursing’s voice in both the media and the more mercurial moments at the beside, we must similarly strive to re-capture that which is sacred in nursing’s undivided and often unspoken support of the patient. “Nurse Jackie” captures these moments with the grace and inevitable vulnerability of the moment better than any nursing drama heretofore.

    Nursing saves and shaves and shapes the lived experience of all whom are called to the unknowing and caring moment. Nursing is messy and beautiful and uncertain and meaningful. Caring is confusing and laden with insight all at the same time. I believe “Nurse Jackie” brings the messy to the dramatic moment and asks us all to consider the consequences of courageous caring in the unapologetic spaces which nurses practice and are asked to accept as normative.

    Just as there can be no ethical nurse who would reasonably support “Nurse Jackie”‘s coping strategies as reasonable, so too there can be no professional nurse who ought to distance him/herself from the pain of courageous caring on the threshold of a system which turns 30% of our neighbours – living in pain – away from care.

    I wonder if the paradox inherent in this “comedy” is not precisely the catalyst for health care change America calls upon …


  • Suzanne

    Thank you so much for this insightful comment. I am so glad you appreciate the brilliance of this show. I know a lot of nurses who are criticizing Nurse Jackie without ever having seen it. Or they are too worried about Jackie’s flaws and problems to recognize that the writers of the show and Edie Falco’s acting have really captured the reality of what nurses cope with today. Thanks for offering this.

  • ChrisC

    I enjoyed your article at the Atlantic’s website and I’m envious that you’ve been able to see all 12 episodes of Nurse Jackie. It’s clearly one of the best-written shows being broadcast right now. The character is complex and deeply human; watching Jackie compassionately interact with patients and their families, manage her drug addiction, and love her family, is affecting. Yes, the character is flawed and the story lines can be dark, but they are more realistic than many medical shows I’ve seen in the past. I’ve not viewed HawthoRNe, but your description of that show leaves me uninterested in it.

    There is one aspect of Nurse Jackie that I find odd. The setting is a Catholic hospital and small clutches of white-robed nuns (they all look a little like Mother Theresa) cross the screen on occasion, seemingly randomly. I’m more used to the idea that the nuns would also be nurses, especially in this hospital. Instead, they are mostly religious background iconography much like the statuary and the paintings of biblical scenes.

  • Stephanie Y

    Dean of Nursing at my University as she does a presentation on the image of nursing that echoes many of the things I have seen written by you.

    I hope this fall’s “Mercy” can live up to Nurse Jackie! Not having seen HawthoRNe I was worried as I began reading your article that it would criticize Showtime’s Nurse Jackie instead. Having read “From Silence to Voice” in my first year of nursing school though, I should have known better! I am relieved to see that there are people out there who appreciate nurses as something other than angels of mercy!

    I came across your article after reading a piece entitled “New Portrayals of Nurses Heat Up Summer TV,” in an oncology nursing magazine. The article mentioned that the ANA and New York State Nurses Association have called Jackie an aberation and have called for nurses to write letters of complaint to Showtime. The magazine also provided a conversation area on the topic where the majority of posters complained about Jackie’s qualities. I appreciate that Jackie is human and as you suggested coping with many real issues faced by nurses. She is tough, and intelligent, and forced to make difficult decisions. While it may be sensationalized for TV it certainly is more realistic than previous portrayals of nurses.

    I have forwarded this article to the

  • Lorettajo Kapinos

    I have a spot in my heart for both shows. Hawthorne chokes me up. I think this is because it highlights the perfect scenario. Christina is a well versed, passionate nurse who truly cares about her work and the nurses who work for her. The scenario mentioned above, where she shocked a patient after the code was called, depicts the reality of her personal life interfering with her professional decision-a very common theme in this show. I know it’s not realistic to have a nurse executive that active in the trenches, but I can’t help thinking “What if…?”

    As for Nurse Jackie? She makes me stand up and cheer. She portrays all the deep, dark, ugly secrets that make us (by us, I mean ER nurses) so dark and cynical. She does and says so many things I think about doing or saying but never would. And I think THAT is what hits so many nerves in so many people. Every day I am sworn at or insulted in one way or another. It’s no wonder I don’t drop the “F” bomb nearly as much as she does. And best of all, she is human. Her faults (affair, drug addiction) give her more depth than so many other characters on TV today.

    I look forward to viewing Mercy. I am hoping that NBC can provide a middle of the road version of a nursing program.

    At any rate, these shows have started nurses talking. Let’s keep it up and START making ourselves heard.

  • Suzanne

    Thanks for writing this. I don’t have a lot of hope for Mercy but we’ll see.

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