Sign Up for Updates

The Blog

MTV, It’s Time to Get a Reality Check on the Portrayal of Nursing!

National Nurses United, 10/26/13

Surgical scrub in.

Statement by National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses, on the new MTV series “Scrubbing In:”

American television viewers certainly need an honest portrayal of the role and lives of registered nurses. “Scrubbing In,” is not it. After viewing the first episode, we have concluded that the creators of this show have instead chosen to trivialize the critical care role of nurses and reinforce old stereotypes of nurses as sex objects.

The show features nurses at a California hospital, Coastal Community Hospital, where in real life the nurses are among 185,000 RNs represented by NNU. Many RNs at Coastal Community elected not to sign waivers to participate in the show for fear it would portray nurses in exactly the simplistic and insulting manner that it has. Thousands of nurses from coast to coast and around the world are adding their voices in agreement. We salute the many young nurses and nursing students who are speaking out against the show.

 


Contact MTV and tell them what you think of the show!

TAKE ACTION!

As long as this series continues we will continue to conduct reality checks on it. Here are some steps nurses and other viewers may take initially to express their concerns. We are reviewing other protests as well. Click to send an email to MTV executives now!

  • Jennifer Solari, Vice President of Communications (California)
  • Candace Ashton, Senior Publicist (in charge of Scrubbing in)
  • National Nurses United will also receive a copy

Nurses have tough jobs, especially in a corporate healthcare environment, where they constantly strive to provide safe, therapeutic care. Many nurses must spend their days fighting with management to make sure their patients get the care they need.  When their shift ends they are most likely exhausted and going home to their families, not partying in hot tubs.

MTV’s response to the barrage of criticism is that “the program should not be seen as representative of the nursing profession in general. This series is meant to entertain, not inform.” Unfortunately what MTV is passing off as “entertainment” is at the same time, misinforming. 

Whatever MTV’s intention, media matters. People's opinions are influenced by culture, sometimes permanently. Women have for years voiced concern about media portrayals of nurses, and other female-identified professions such as teachers and secretaries. There's a good reason why the nurses at Coastal Communities hospital chose not to participate.

MTV has also chosen to focus on travel nurses, a small slice of the nursing profession. In reality, most nurses do not work for travel agencies, they prefer to live in their local communities and have regular schedules at their local hospitals. Even among travel nurses, including some brought to the U.S. by exploitive companies, too many have a very different experience than the story presented here, often required to work excessive shifts with few rights, protections or benefits.

Today, in a period of healthcare reform, RNs are at the forefront, advocating for a system that guarantees quality care for all. It’s not that we are all work and no play. We celebrate our victories along the way – such as strong contracts that improve working conditions for nurses so that they can provide excellent patient care.

A Sampling of Comments Criticizing the Show:

Dominica Pador, RN, Coastal Communities Hospital, emergency room

“ I didn’t sign the waiver or agree to be part of the show in any way. My job as an ER nurse is very stressful and demanding. I can not have distractions at work while caring for patients in distress. We emergency department nurses at Coastal take our work very seriously. We are hard working professionals and dedicated patient advocates.”

Tuss Chapanond, RN, Coastal Communities Hospital, intensive care unit

“We know what MTV is about – it revolves around sexist demeaning stereotypes of women. As part of a profession that depends on and requires intelligence, skill and compassion, why would I want to be part of that?” I refused to sign the waiver.”

A nurse on Facebook group: Cancel Scrubbing In on MTV

"If this show premiered when I was considering nursing as an option, it really could have been enough to turn me in the opposite direction. That's the saddest thing, for me, as someone who is so proud to call themselves a future nurse. Knowing that bright, compassionate young men and women will take away such a negative/misguided idea about what it is that nurses do is the most frustrating impact that this show will have."

A few Tweets during the show:

"Beyond embarrassed for you all. Truly a sad day for #nurses. #ScrubbingIn is pathetic."

#ScrubbingOutofScrubbingIn: Pathetic representation of young nurses. Why exploit a respected profession. Why destroy what we've worked for?"


Contact MTV and tell them what you think of the show!

TAKE ACTION!

As long as this series continues we will continue to conduct reality checks on it. Here are some steps nurses and other viewers may take initially to express their concerns. We are reviewing other protests as well. Click to send an email to MTV executives now!

  • Jennifer Solari, Vice President of Communications (California)
  • Candace Ashton, Senior Publicist (in charge of Scrubbing in)
  • National Nurses United will also receive a copy

If you haven't already done so, please also sign this Change.org Petition


Please use the LIKE | TWEET | SHARE buttons below now!

Back to The Blog »