Most of us probably know by now that no less than three primetime shows are featuring nurses in primary roles.
After decades of St. Elsewhere, Quincy, House Calls and most recently ER and Grey's Anatomy; it's about time a healthcare drama was put forward with a nurse's point to view.
That should be reason enough for nurses to stand up and cheer. Finally, someone is giving a voice to what really goes on in hospitals and in the lives of nurses. That depends on how you look at it.
All three shows are quite different.
Showtime's Nurse Jackie, starring Edie Falco, could be a bit jarring for viewers if you're not used to black comedy. A series that begins with a drug-addicted nurse passed out on a bathroom floor with gum stuck to the sole of her shoe could take some getting used to.
Still, it's this very character that dares to say and do what most nurses probably think sometimes, often in bold and unethical ways.
A good example is a dinner scene with a physician colleague, in which a nearby woman begins to choke. They both roll their eyes and debate whether or not they should intervene because they're off the clock and so "over" saving lives at the moment. Jackie does ultimately intervene but it's the way she goes about it that makes her character unique.
HawthoRNe stars Jada Pinkett-Smith and airs on TNT. The series focuses on the administrative side of nursing, as Pinkett-Smith plays a single mother and the chief nursing officer of a major metropolitan hospital.
While substance-abusing nurses can be a reality, some may find it completely implausible that a CNO would respond to a personal phone call from a suicidal patient and rush to the hospital at 4:00a.m., to talk him down from the roof.
Rounding out the trio is the drama Mercy, which will air on NBC beginning this fall. The series focuses on a trio of nursing colleagues, each at various stages of professional accomplishment, from the new grad to the seasoned professional.
Viewers may find this series a happy medium and more realistic as the nurses struggle with power plays from physicians and ways to "take care" of their care-giving colleagues.
Both Nurse Jackie and Mercy feature a gay male nurse character. While positive gay role models are greatly needed on TV, we all understand men in nursing face an uphill battle with this perception.
What do you think? Links to the full pilot episode of Nurse Jackie as well as sneak peaks of HawthoRNe and Mercy are below. Understanding TV is "heightened" reality and not reality itself, which do you think makes the best point about what you have to say, as a nurse?
Nurse Jackie http://www.sho.com/site/nursejackie/home.do
Luke Cowles is senior regional editor at ADVANCE.