On June 8, Showtime will premiere “Nurse Jackie,” a series about the life of a fictional emergency department nurse, starring Edie Falco.
After viewing the first episode at a private screening, NYSNA members were concerned about the way it depicted registered professional nurses. There is a long history of inaccurate portrayals of nurses and nursing in the media, and this program continues that trend.
In the first episode, Nurse Jackie is introduced as a substance abuser who trades sex with a doctor for prescription drugs. She has no qualms about repeatedly violating the nursing Code of Ethics. Although Showtime describes her as a “competent nurse,” one could argue that no competent nurse would behave this way.
Last month NYSNA Chief Executive Officer Tina Gerardi sent a letter to Showtime, asking for a disclaimer before each episode. In his response, Stuart Zakim, Showtime vice president of corporate communications, denied that request, saying, “This is a show of fiction, and its purpose, first and foremost, is entertainment. We are confident the viewing public will understand that and can differentiate between a work of fiction and a documentary, which this clearly is not.”
“On the other hand, we believe that the public’s view of nurses is influenced by TV dramas, and we have yet to see an accurate portrayal of what nurses really do,” said Gerardi. “It is our responsibility as the state nurses’ association to speak out on behalf of our profession, which often is misunderstood and marginalized by the media.”
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