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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Nurse Jackie Hasn't Changed

Published March 18, 2010 4:45 PM by Gail Guterl
  She's back! Like her or hate her, Nurse Jackie is back and she's as messed up as she was last season. If you recall, Jackie Peyton, RN, is a dedicated but troubled emergency department nurse at All Saints Hospital in New York City in the Showtime series Nurse Jackie, which premiered last fall.

Very unlikeable at times, Jackie is deeply dependent on pills and cheats on her husband. She loves her children and her spouse but doesn't seem to have any twinges of conscience when it comes to considering the morality of both her addiction and her extramarital affair.

I don't want to give too much away, but whether you think Nurse Jackie is a great nurse or a blot on the profession, season two of the series, which begins Monday, March 22, keeps your attention. And by the end of this 12-episode season of half-hour shows there will be plenty to discuss regarding ethical nursing practice.

A few hints of some of the action in the first eight episodes:

  • Jackie, played by Edie Falco of The Sopranos' fame, recommends medical marijuana to a patient with leukemia even though it is illegal in New York.
  • New nurse grad Zoe (actress Merritt Wever) gains more confidence as a nurse and takes matters into her own hands when a child arrives in the ED who is not breathing and a doc is nowhere to be found.
  • Jackie releases a child from the ED based on preliminary testing, only to discover the final tests show a very different outcome.
  • Hospital administrator and nurse Gloria Akalitus, played by Anna Deavere Smith, convinces Jackie and Fitch "Coop" Cooper, MD, played by Peter Facinelli, never to tell anyone the hospital benefactress verbally removes all her financial support from the hospital minutes before she suffers a fatal stroke, when Jackie, Coop and Akalitus are in the room.

You'll see much more of Akalitus, which is a big treat, and you'll probably see some things you know are a no-no in nursing. Example, Showtime writers added a regular character, who had a small part in the first season. The character, Sam, played by Arjun Gupta, played a drug-addicted nurse in the first season. He is now clean and hired by Akalitus, back on the same unit where he was feeding his habit. There's no comment that nurses should probably not go back to work on the unit where they had their addiction, as I learned in reading Impaired: A Nurses Story of Addiction and Recovery by Patricia Holloran, an ADVANCE Book Club for Nurses selection at (



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