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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

‘Nurse Jackie' Episode 2 Recap

Published June 16, 2009 12:30 PM by Ainsley Maloney

Minutes into the second episode, Jackie is emptying three Sweet-N-All packets and refilling them with crushed Percocet powder. ("Percocet should never be crushed, broken, or chewed," Jackie muses, "unless you want it to hit your system like a bolt of lightening. Which is only a problem if you're afraid of lightening. Which I am not.")

Drug-addicted as she still is in last night's episode, it's no secret nurse Jackie continues to be flawed. But episode 2 also brought, what I thought to be, some really positive scenes for nursing. I've detailed two here; so read my take on them, and then let us know what you think in the comment box below.

Plus 1: Nurse Jackie commands a room. When Jackie walks into a room, you can feel she's in control; regardless of whether she's facing a group of nurses, doctors or police officers.

In one scene, four people, Dr. Fitch "Coop" Cooper (Peter Facinelli), nursing student Zoey Barkow (Merritt Weaver), and two police officers are trying to hold down an irate man who is screaming and thrashing around, his hand bloody from punching out the hospital fire alarm (the same man who earlier slapped Jackie across the face).

Jackie rushes into the room and in an instant commands the environment:

"Easy guys, easy. You gotta calm down sir!" Jackie says.

The man continues to yell obscenities; upset the hospital amputated the legs of his diabetic and obese mother, and screaming that no one will listen to him and that he can't take care of her on his own.

"Uncuff him please," Jackie then says, to everyone's surprise.

"But he hit you!" Zoey says.

Dr. Coop looks up, confused. "I'd feel better if he was restrained."

"You were right about the aneurism," Jackie says to Dr. Coop, referring to his earlier instinct that turned out to be right; encouraging him to trust hers.

"Ma'am," the cop insists.

"So help me God, do not call me ma'am," Jackie hits back.

"It's not your call; hospital's pressing charges," the cop says, "unless he's psychotic."

"OK, he's psychotic. See ya!" Jackie says.

In this moment, you wonder whether Dr. Coop will trust Jackie's instinct or go against her; Dr. Coop looks up. "See ya," he says to the cop.

The scene quickly settles; the man seems instantly subdued now that he feels he's being listened to. Jackie assures him they're going to take care of him, then instructs Dr. Coop to get him a bed for the night, and tells Zoey to call in social services.

For me, seeing a confident nurse trust her instinct, then be trusted by the doctor - completely command a room to the point she pacifies a situation in minutes, and then go on to coordinate the patient's care, was, in my eyes, a huge plus for nursing.

Plus 2: She encourages Zoey to stick with nursing

Zoey is the young, chipper, overeager nursing student who sing-songs through the day, brings in baked goods, and vomits after the severed ear Jackie threw in the toilet last episode burbles back up while Zoey's in the bathroom.

Some people who watched the first episode said Jackie was doing the old "nurses eat their young" routine with Zoey. "I don't do chatty," Jackie snapped in the première. "I like quiet. Quiet and mean. Those are my people."

But this episode, I saw Jackie a bit differently: as a no-bull mentor who's trying to toughen Zoey up, not tear her down, (which to me, makes a huge difference).

In one scene, Jackie is filling out paperwork while Zoey is anxiously swaying behind her.

"Hovering!" Jackie says.

Zoey scuttles over and sits down next to Jackie.

"I'm not sure I can do this," Zoey confesses. "I mean ... you're all so good at what you do. And the doctors. Oh my God, they're healers. And this place is amazing. I got into nursing because I want to help people, and I'm afraid I'm just slowing you down."

Now, if Jackie really was mean - or just didn't care - I'm guessing she would have said something along the lines of: "You're right; you can't hack it. You can go home."

But instead, she gives Zoey the kick in the butt (and the confidence) she needs.

"What is this about - nobody ate your muffins? You found an ear in the toilet? So what," Jackie says. "You know what this job is, honey? This job is wading through a sh*tstorm of people who come into this place on the very worst day of their lives. And just so you know, doctors are here to diagnose, not heal. We heal. All Saints [Hospital] is in the business of flipping beds. That's it, end of story. The fact that you have even the slightest inclination to help people puts you miles ahead of 100 percent of the population.

"So stop crying, OK. Buck up. If you need to cry go do it in the ladies room. Is that clear?"

Zoey nods, and it's my prediction she's going to go on, mature, and grow into her own skin as a nurse throughout the season. Showing how tough nursing can be that first year; watching a new student struggle and then be encouraged rather than torn down by her preceptor is a definite plus in my eyes for the nursing profession.

On a parallel note: there's an earlier part where ED administrator Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deveare Smith) presents the severed ear to Jackie, questioning how it got in the toilet, and Jackie blames it on Zoey ("I handed it to you, sweetie").

Not the best example of a mentor.

But in this scene, what mattered more to me was whether I got the sense Zoey would get in trouble for it. Which I didn't. Akalitus, you can tell, is familiar with Jackie's antics, and aside from looking annoyed, didn't sound hell bent on getting to the bottom of it. Heck, Akalitus herself spends the rest of the episode floating around the ED stoned off Jackie's Percocet "sweetener," and hugging everyone in sight.

It is a dark comedy, and because the scene felt light - as in, Zoey wasn't visibly upset about receiving the blame - I didn't take it too seriously. And even if Zoey does get in trouble, I truly don't believe Jackie would allow her to take the fall.

Jackie does bend the rules often, sure, but so far it's been solely to obtain what she feels is fair or right (regardless of who else agrees). Throwing Zoey under the bus wouldn't qualify, even in Jackie's rulebook.

19 comments

Hello. And Bye.

XRumerTest XRumerTest, , Test, just a test XRumerTest January 3, 2018 6:14 PM
MO

Hello. And Bye.

XRumerTest XRumerTest, , Test, just a test XRumerTest January 1, 2018 12:35 PM
ND

Hello. And Bye.

XRumerTest XRumerTest, , Test, just a test XRumerTest March 28, 2017 8:35 AM
CO

I was a bit taken back when I watched the first episode but have

now become an avid fan.  the show brings in the authenticity of every day life and the working nursing personnel, who are notdoctors in white coats with pure hearts,  Nurses  have warped sense of humors  from years of paticipation in  emotional crisis, both for patients and themselves.  Are there impaired nurses?  You bet!  I continue to work after 25 yrs of ED nursing, take my pain pills at the end of the shift so I can get

comforable and sleep with arthritis of the spine and numbness

in the legs.  Unlike, Jackie, I dont take medication while on the job nor sleep with  pharmacist as supplier. I pay to see a physician, pay for the prescriptions and beg for CT scan/MRI and yearly epidural injecitons to ease the inflammation and discomfort

The situations portrayed are well done.  It is for dramatic effect but most nurses can agree that there is also truth in character and scenes.

Love you Jackie;  You say and do what most of us would like to but dont because we need to continue working

a, Emergency - RN, hospital July 15, 2009 12:09 AM
Modesto CA

I was a bit taken back when I watched the first episode but have

now become an avid fan.  the show brings in the authenticity of every day life and the working nursing personnel, who are notdoctors in white coats with pure hearts,  Nurses  have warped sense of humors  from years of paticipation in  emotional crisis, both for patients and themselves.  Are there impaired nurses?  You bet!  I continue to work after 25 yrs of ED nursing, take my pain pills at the end of the shift so I can get

comforable and sleep with arthritis of the spine and numbness

in the legs.  Unlike, Jackie, I dont take medication while on the job nor sleep with  pharmacist as supplier. I pay to see a physician, pay for the prescriptions and beg for CT scan/MRI and yearly epidural injecitons to ease the inflammation and discomfort

The situations portrayed are well done.  It is for dramatic effect but most nurses can agree that there is also truth in character and scenes.

Love you Jackie;  You say and do what most of us would like to but dont because we need to continue working

a, Emergency - RN, hospital July 15, 2009 12:09 AM
Modesto CA

I, too, was very excited to watch the first episode of Nurse Jackie, until I saw the first episode.  I became sick to my stomach thinking of all the people, especially when I thought of all the people who would actually believe that the portrayal is accurate.  Now, yes, I have known some impaired nurses, have known some who were having a relationship with other staff nurses.  But, come on people, one nurse who is addicted to pain killers, who is unfaithful to her husband with the pharmacist in order to get the pain meds she is addicted to?  Takes off her wedding band before work so the pharmacist won't know she is not only married, but has two little girls?  

I do not believe that a person using prescription pain killers could be such an efficient, caring, quick-thinking, medical professional.  There is too much critical thinking involved with nursing, especially ED nursing.

We already have TV shows that depict a high school chemistry teacher "cooking" methamphetamine and selling it to make money for his family when he learned he had terminal cancer.  We have a series available for viewing that follows a serial killer killing people "who deserve to be killed".  We have a series that spotlights polygamy.  We have several TV shows, available for our viewing pleasure, that depict people in immoral, disrespectful, plots which do not give the viewing audience any relief from stress due to an entertaining, non-violent, happy, whimisical script.  If I want to experience infidelity, immoral, unprofessional, deplorable behavior, I will watch the news or read a newspaper.

Thank you.

TAMMY HOLLAND, NEONATAL - RN-C, METHODIST July 12, 2009 3:53 AM
DALLAS TX

It is unfortunate, but lot of people believe what they see on tv. All of us nurses know that Nurse Jackie is for entertainment purposes only; however, many non-medical viewers are going to start believing that nurses are drug addicts and having sex during our breaks.  Working in an ER, I have already had patients ask how I feel about Nurse Jackie and state how they believe Nurse Jackie is a true depiction of how nursing is.  How sad.  There is already a trend toward patients and their families being disrespectful toward nurses.  The last thing we need is a tv show painting nurses in a disrepectful light.

Rebecca, ER - RN July 10, 2009 10:40 AM
MD

Get over it! This is fictional entertainment not a documentary. I found it amusing because I do know people who have affairs at work and mean spirited supervisors and staff that have their own addictions and preceptors that should never be assigned to teaching or mentoring new staff nurses. Some people are so righteous it makes me sick and usually they are sitting at home with no life sad, miserable and  overweight and can't see that everyone has their issues even nurses but mostly doctors.. ha ha ha

susan parks, operating room - rn, cooper July 9, 2009 2:50 PM
camden NJ

The first 10 minutes of episode one convinced me that I didn't want to see more...when Nurse Jackie forged the signature of the dead  bike messenger making him an organ donor.

Ellie, Hospice - RN, Augusta Health July 2, 2009 12:06 PM
Waynesboro VA

Historically, the media has not been kind to nurses. This most recent depiction has taken that perspective from from bad to worse. This show is a disgrace. Nothing the character does is ethical, professional, or reflects well on nursing.  Even knowing Nurse Jackie is a grossly exaggerated charicature is no excuse.

Shame on Showtime, shame on the viewers, and especially shame on any nurse who defends this as entertainment.

Barbara Berman, Emergency - ARNP, Exeter Hospital July 1, 2009 12:34 PM
Exeter NH

Everyone needs to stop and take a breath.  This is a tv show...made for entertainment....made for the networks to make money off of.  Personally, I love Nurse Jackie.....No, she's not perfect....I've never met a perfect nurse....Jackie's seasoned and good at what she does.  Just like many women (and men) in ANY profession, Jackie's got an extramarital affair going...Just like many in ANY profession, Jackie's got an addiction.  No, it's not pretty to think that anyone in a field as important as medicine can be walking around a hospital stoned, but it happens more than we'd like to know.  Let's give this addiction thing a little time....let's see where the network goes with it.  What's most important is that Jackie is the epitome of a patient advocate.   Flushing ears down toilets and popping bike messengers tires just makes for lighter moments in this dark comedy.  Go Jackie!

Patricia, Rehab - RN June 24, 2009 2:37 PM
NJ

After years as an ER RN I was delighted to hear of this show but watched only the 1st.  What a poor depiction of nurses!  Drug addicted, over-sexed, and a poor preceptor.  I am so disapointed in the whole thing.  I will encourage my peers not to wait their time.  If this crap is believed, it will take up from most respected to making our patients wonder what we are sniffing and which doctor we are having sex with between giving them care.  Take it off the air and do all the RN's a service.

Pam Poisson, RN June 17, 2009 6:02 PM

Nurse Jackie will drop the profession of nursing as the number one trusted profession in the USA. Who would put their trust into this character? Yes, nurses are human ... but taking drugs and impairing their judgement to that extent, while at work.%0d%0aIt is very discouraging to me.

Dolores Vieira, Perioperative Svc - MSN, RN, CNOR, NVRH June 17, 2009 5:41 PM
St. Johnsbury VT

I caught the last 10 minutes of the first episode and have not been able to stomach any more.  Yes, I am glad that they are portraying RN's as human beings, but wish we didn't have to be on drugs or sex objects for the media to do so.  It's a shame that the public embraces us as partiers and not the professionals that we are.  I have worked hard for my degree.  I don't need the media to destroy or marr that image in a 30 minute episode.

James, Oncology - RN, BSN, OCN, traveler June 17, 2009 5:07 PM
New York NY

Isn't there something to be said for portraying a nurse as a human being? Personally, I'm rather tired of nurses being portrayed as angels. I think it gives the public a perception that we can handle anything, including giving them an excuse for their poor behavior or lack of respect to a fellow human being.

Paula, Medical surgical - RN, mch June 17, 2009 4:07 PM
Bath ME

I totally agree with Kay Bensing. Thank you, Kay. I am astonished that some nurses feel this show is okay and actually like it. I couldn't watch more than 5 min. of the 1st episode as it was so disgusting. And, as a nursing clinical instructor, I was mortified of the portrayal of the student (and the acting was horrific also)as a hyperactive & unprofessional student. I have never had a nursing student act so giddy like the character did. Maybe she was the one of Vicodin! Nursing students should also be up in arms over how they are being portrayed. Again, I say...nurses should develop their own show. I am all for that and welcome any feedback as this has been a dream of mine for years to act as a medical consultant for a TV show to depict nursing in a positive but acccurate light.

Linda, Nursing Instructor - BSN, RN June 16, 2009 8:53 PM
Boston MA

Let me first say I have not watched either of the two episodes of Nurse Jackie. I have read the blogs on this Web site as well as reviews online and in newpapers.

Right now I am responding to last night's episode from a blog. I am very concerned with the portrayal of Nurse Jackie as an impaired nurse. I can't go beyond the portrayal of her demonstrating positive nurse behaviors. Once she is cast as a nurse high on Percocet, she should not be practicing nursing. I know it is a TV show, but how often does art imitate life.

There are far too many nurses who are impaired and there are great programs in most all states to help nurses deal with addictions and get into recovery and return to nursing.

As I was told, on the first episode of Nurse Jackie, she was said to be in recovery. However, in the second episode she is seen taking Percocets. At this point, no matter  how great her nursing skills are, her critical thinking is impaired and she is a safety risk.

While my critics tell me this is a TV how, how many people watching question how real this problem is-- and is the nurse taking care of thier mother addicted. These individuals also are

aware that medical errors are the 8th leading cause of death in this country.

Kay Bensing, MA RN

Kay Bensing, , Sr Staff Nurse Consultant ADVANCE for Nurses June 16, 2009 5:55 PM
King of Prussia PA

Can't wait to catch this episode via Netflix.

Lorettajo--love your phrase "a nurse that can WILL cry in the bathroom, wash her face and do it again." Kinda like motherhood, in a way.

Abbey Scott June 16, 2009 5:12 PM
West Chester

It should also be noted that later, Jackie asked her MD friend about the possibility Zoey would get in trouble.  They both agreed that she would not.

I think we need to realize a something about these first few episodes.  The show is trying to set the tone, create the scene and introduce the character.  I believe all of the craziness we see in Jackie will eventually settle into a well-defined, multi-layered nurse that many people will identify with-either love or hate.

And really, she sums it up with her lecture to Zoey.  It's those moments we need to focus on.  Some people can't hack it, but a nurse that can WILL cry in the bathroom, wash her face and do it again.  I wish somebody had told me the rules when I was a student!

Oh, and finally....Showtime on Demand is one episode ahead of what is aired.  I saw episode 3 today.  AND there are stories from real nurses available for viewing as well!  So, if you have Showtime, get your fix early.

Lorettajo Kapinos, Emergency - RN June 16, 2009 4:44 PM
Springfield MA

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