Hate ‘Nurse Jackie’? Here’s What You Can Do
Barring rave reviews and a record number of viewers (a cumulative 1.35 million after the premiere and encore), Showtime picked up Nurse Jackie
for a second season just 1 day after its June 8 premiere.
It's likely you're either smiling or cringing.
But, regardless of whether you think Nurse Jackie's a strong, competent nurse who's finally portraying the difficult work nurses do, or a morally depleted, ethically corrupt one who's tarnishing your profession - we at ADVANCE love to give our nurses something to work with. So here goes.
If you loved Nurse Jackie, go ahead and use it as a platform to talk about the ways it positively portrays the nursing profession to your friends and family.
If you hate it, well production for the second season hasn't begun yet, (it's starting this summer for a 2010 première), so there's still time to tell those producers over at Showtime what you think - whether it's to tell them you hate the show, or suggest ways they can be more accurate, advises Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, CAE, the CEO of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA).
Gerardi wrote to Showtime in May asking a disclaimer be added at the start of each episode to separate Nurse Jackie's actions from real-world nurses. (It was denied; more on that soon).
She also recalls the American Nurses Association taking action with ER back in 1998 when the show was thinking of sending nurse Carol Hathaway to medical school.
"When ER first came out, we, the American Nurses Association, wrote and talked to producers and said, ‘There's good stuff there, but there's other stuff that's not true,' Gerardi noted.
"The season when Nurse Hathaway was thinking about becoming a doctor, we said, ‘Don't do that. She's a strong nurse character. Don't negate that strong nurse character by saying you can't be fulfilled as a strong patient advocate; a strong clinician unless you're a physician. That's not true.'
"And they didn't. They didn't go there. So there have been opportunities where we have been able to influence the public image. And I don't know, perhaps Nurse Jackie will be that other opportunity. It's too early to tell."
Mary McNamara, ANA spokesperson, said then-ANA President Beverly Malone wrote the letter to NBC producers, and "whether or not we can take credit for that particular story changing is subject to interpretation, but we did view it as a positive change."
A 1998 ANA Online Journal of Issues in Nursing article touches on this triumph:
"Nurse Hathaway (like most, if not all, Registered Nurses) is frequently insulted by being asked why she's a nurse, rather than a doctor," the article reads.
"Urged by her colleagues, Nurse Hathaway takes the medical school entrance exam, receiving scores which insure [sic] her admittance to any number of schools. However, after carefully pondering her options (and several weeks of suspense), she decides nursing practice is the preferred career.
"One dramatization like this (i.e., the refusal of a young, beautiful, brainy nurse to switch to medicine) is worth a thousand press releases."
To create your own change, you can start by writing Stuart Zakim, vice president of corporate communications at Showtime, who in his response to NYSNA, denying their request for a disclaimer, said: "We feel that our discussion with NYSNA was enormously constructive, and ... we hope that our dialogue can continue as the show unfolds."
ANA is also not happy with Nurse Jackie and is urging nurses to write a letter of complaint (see sample letter here) and mail it to Showtime at:
Showtime Networks Inc. ATTN: Robert Greenblatt, President, Entertainment
New York, NY 10019