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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

More On “Scrubbing In”

Published October 29, 2013 6:21 AM by Guest Blogger
Sharon Nam Dobbs is a registered nurse who is committed to education and professional growth. Educated in Canada, she received a diploma in nursing in 2003 from George Brown College; a BSN in 2005 from Ryerson University; and an MSN from University of Toronto in 2007. She has worked in community nursing, geriatric nursing, nursing education, general internal medicine, neurology, and bariatrics. She has worked in Canada and the U.S. and currently works as a bariatric nurse at Toronto Western Hospital.

When my union forwarded a link to a petition to cancel a new reality show, "Scrubbing In" that was described as being "highly offensive," and which depicts nurses in unprofessional, inappropriate activities, I automatically signed the petition, and forwarded to family and friends on my Facebook page to also sign. I thought that anything that got my union so riled should be taken seriously.

Receiving a notification from my adult son that he hated the trailer and thought it was "an abomination and an insult" to my honor, I was more than a little curious about the trailer itself. I watched it and was horrified at the portrayal of the nurses in the show.

We have advanced into a "reality" age in which we have an unquenchable thirst of the most outlandish of "daily" activities. We live in awe of the most degrading of human activities. We watch in glee as people dispute about their innumerable sex partners, about the paternity of their children, and about any number of topics. We watch child prodigies perform as seasoned chefs, and hunger for fights amongst mothers of child beauty queens. We have become a depraved society in which nothing is sacred, and everything is fair game.

But, one wonders, what does that have to do with nursing? Reality TV doesn't necessarily depict real life, does it? While that may be true, reality TV gives the impression that what they portray actually happens.

Now, in a profession in which nurses fight daily for respect and to be taken seriously, in which so many television shows have negative portrayals of nurses, and in which nurses must constantly (and almost unsuccessfully) be proving themselves to their patients, the families and friends of patients, and even to their own colleagues in other disciplines, why would any nurse embrace a television program that basically prove the misconception that exist about nurses?

posted by Guest Blogger


I believe that scrubbing in is an insult to nurses everywhere. This show is degrading what nurses do on a daily bases. REAL nurses do not drink obsessively as they do on this show. I think it should be taken off air because nursing is a job that should be highly though of and this show portrays nurses as a joke. Nursing is one of the most difficult professions and I am currently in school to become a nurse and I know as a future nurse I will not have time to do all the stuff these people do because I will be too busy caring for my patients.

Angelia Franco, Nursing - Pace university December 7, 2013 1:17 PM

As a nursing student, it is extremely disappointing to watch a “reality” show that depicts nurses in such a demeaning way. I have volunteered in the nursing department before I started nursing school and never have I seen any nurse behave the way the nurses do on this show. I was quite excited to watch an accurate portrayal of nursing but the show is extremely offensive to the nursing profession and I was offended by what the show represented. The nurses on this show are profane, highly unprofessional and degrade the nursing profession. Nurses deserve better!

Tazrin , Nursing Student December 4, 2013 9:56 PM
Jamaica NY

I have watched several episodes of SCRUBBING IN , a reality show on MTV. It is like all other reality shows on TV today. Modern day soap opera with real people. Like all shows in this genre, it sensationalizes the characters on the show with their individual situations. Many of us have had similar situations in our past/ present regarding our personal/family life maybe not as dramatized, we choose not air it on TV. Once nurses saw trailers of the show and it's first episode, anxiety and anger pursued to have it removed. Nurses are spending a lot of time and effort to block viewing this poorly written show, yet the attention they are attracting to it is already causing plans for a season 2.  It probably would have been cancelled by mid season if no attention had been brought to it. Instead of focusing our attention to more serious issues facing our profession today, we chose to ban together to battle this. Fare wages, work/life balance, staffing shortages and other topics of importance are being left aside as they have for years. Nurses should utilize this time to stand up and show our value as a health care provider. We all don't have caps on, wearing white and follow the doctor around as his personal caddy. Instead of boycotting this show, writing networks demanding a series showing the action we really see each day. The  emergency situations we control, the fact we are with the patient around the clock in both good and bad times. STOP BEING THE VICTIM, start being the advocate and not of just the patient but of your career!

Allen, Managed Care/ICU - RN November 19, 2013 12:52 AM

As a future nurse it is disturbing to see the way the media portrays the nursing profession.  This show is basically the Jersey shore but with nurses. The nursing profession deserves to be respected, nurses are so much more than what is shown on television. What kind of a message is the media sending? What is this sort of “entertainment” doing for you? You’re honestly just killing brain cells by watching things like this, in no way shape or form will knowing what these people do (NOT WHAT ACTUAL NURSES DO), on a daily basis, benefit you.

Mariana November 18, 2013 12:20 PM

I watched this show and didn't expect much.  It is trashy as all reality shows are.  I couldn't believe that two of the nurses had problems obtaining a license in another state due to past drunk driving convictions and were pursuing travel nursing anyway.  This only goes to show the mentality of the show because  something of this magnitude can really damage your career.  In addition, these nurses seem really inexperienced.  I always thought travel nurses were very seasoned.  This is why they can fit in at the drop of a hat in new locations.

Carla , BS, RN November 12, 2013 4:54 PM

The previews of scrubbing in show a very unprofessional side of nurses, but I watched one episode to see if maybe it had something to offer. Of course it did not, however, I worked as a traveler for 3 years and I have run into nurses that do behave very unprofessionally in nursing and in their private lives. Althought it may not be the majority of nurses they are out there.

I believe the nursing profession has to be very careful how they promote nursing school. I have known colleges to go to high schools and promote nursing as a financially stable job that only requires an associates degree. Unfortunately, I have not heard of any program that includes a professionalism course in a two year program. I attended a two year program and my study partner was right out of high school. She had no life experience, had never had a job, and although her behavior was not like the nurses on scrubbing in, she did say inappropriate things in front of patients at times.

I have also met many professional young nurses so I am not saying its just young people, but there has to be appropriate professional training in nursing. Nursing is a great career and a two year program is a wonderful way for young people to enter the profession. The unprofessional portrayal of nursing is not new, and I believe there is a huge need for further education in the nursing profession. The two year degree should be a stepping stone, and further educational requirements should be implemented along with requirements to belong to a professional organization.

The episode I watched did not show too much nursing but rather focused on the nurses personal drama. I don't know if this show has the ability to ruin the professionalism of nursing, but I question what it will do to travel nursing. I also believe that the travel company that agreed to participate in this show should not be used for any open travel assignments, and all the nurses on the show should be not be hired to any health care facility. If they want to be reality famous then that is their right, however they should give up their nursing license.

Pam , MSN,RN,OCN November 8, 2013 12:46 PM

I was a traveler for 15 years, from Alaska to Florida and many points in between. I watched episode 2. The show was pretty dumb, I thought. However I was not disgusted or offended. It's television, for goodness sake. Get over it. It's mass entertainment. You expect it to be good?

Stephie Smith, Medical director - RN, Government November 6, 2013 6:41 PM
Colchester VT

As a new nurse in my early twenties, I am absolutely disgusted by this portrayal of professional nursing on Scrubbing In. I mourn the image of nursing that is dragged around the media and put on display for the public.

Emelia, Critical Care - BSN RN November 6, 2013 4:26 PM

As above I meant to say and ER nurse having to practice on another nurse to start an IV .. as a traveler we are so over qualified ... We have hands on with all kinds of equipment , policies, hospitals and everything that goes with it. I felt like I was watching a copy cat reality cheesy Mickey Mouse show and I was. It wont stay on network long.

lynn, ICU - RN November 6, 2013 3:52 PM
Sp Pete FL

First and foremost MTV interviewed me for this reality show and was super happy with all I said and was about to hire me, then said one more last question "how old are you" I told her I was 63, she then said" i'm so sorry we really want nurses around 22-24. I was humiliated because I have been traveling since 1995 and really could bring a lot to the shoe. First of all the show is trashy , unprofessional and really a travel RN in ER not needing practice to start an IV .Man what company does she work for?

They could change this whole show around with mixed ages and

more exciting things to do on day off than drama and girls kissing girls. You want drama watch Jerry Springer.

lynn, icu - rn November 6, 2013 3:48 PM

I enjoy reality TV, but those nurses should be ashamed of the way that they act while they are at work. They are so unprofessional! They give real nurses a bad reputation. I will not watch the show again.

Lisa Accardi, Developmental Disabilities - RN, CDDN November 6, 2013 12:26 PM
Derry NH

The show is an embarassment to our profession. I refuse to believe any nurse would think it was okay to portray themselves to the world in such a demeaning and dramatic fashion! I saw the show once and was mortified with their immaturity and unprofessionalism! I refuse to watch it again! I't was trash and i'm glad they're not my nurse and i don't want to even be put into the same category as those soap opera drama queens! Very sad! We work so hard to be respected and they destroy it all with one show!

Arlene, RN November 6, 2013 7:33 AM
Brooklyn NY

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