May 21, 2010
Response by Caitlin Moore to 'Ethics: The Value of Nursing Ethics: What about Nurse Jackie?' by Dr. Jeanne Sorrell (July 22, 2009).
I am writing in response to Dr. Sorrell's Ethics Column entitled 'The Value of Nursing Ethics. What about Nurse Jackie?' I agree with Dr. Sorrell's view that, although Nurse Jackie by no means accurately portrays real nurses, the show is not necessarily damaging to nursing as a profession, and may have some benefits for nursing.
Many people do not understand what nurses actually do. While Nurse Jackie is filled with stereotypes and dramatic ethical issues, the show does portray many important, yet lesser known aspects of nursing. The character of Jackie provides a good example of a nurse acting as a patient advocate, fighting for what is best for each patient, rather than simply following the doctor's orders when there is reason to question them. Sorrell noted that the show most certainly opens up an opportunity for dialog between nurses and the public, and at the very least gives the public a better idea of what we as nurses can do and the ethical issues we face. I think Nurse Jackie, as well as the other nursing television shows introduced this past year, will help rather than harm nursing as a profession because they provide the public with an exposure to the types of situations that nurses face. We cannot expect that television shows will accurately portray any professionals, be they nurses, doctors, lawyers, or teachers, because dramatic and unrealistic situations are needed to keep viewers interested. Fortunately most viewers know better than to believe that everything they see on TV is an accurate depiction of the way life really is. Sorrell discussed the need to gather data that supports the value of nursing because many people have only a minimal understanding of the value of nurses. Television shows like Nurse Jackie can, at the very least, bring nurses and the ethical issues they deal with on a daily basis to the forefront of our society.
Accelerated BSN Student
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Brooklyn, New York