January 11, 2016

nurses writeNursing has long suffered from public misconceptions of what nurses do. In September, Michelle Collins and Joy Behar, two of the women who host the daytime television program, The View, outraged nurses across the country with dismissive and demeaning comments about a nurse in the Miss American contest who decided to do something different for her talent section of the competition. She came onto the stage in scrubs with a stethescope around her neck and told a story about the impact that she had on a patient’s life and the patient’s impact on hers. Using the hashtag, #ShowMeYourStethescope, nurses around the world began posting photos of themselves in their uniform with a stethescope around their neck and described the work they did that day and every day.

Perhaps someone should give the hosts of The View a new book title, The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve House, Four Patients’ Lives by Theresa Brown. and published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Theresa Brown was a professor of English at Tufts University when she decided that she wanted to do more meaningful work and went to nursing school. She began writing about her work as a nurse in Western Pennsylvania and it came to the attention of the NY Times, where she became a contributor to the paper’s Well Blog and now to its Opinionator column. Her first book, Critical Care, described her first year as a nurse on a hospital oncology unit. She now works parttime in hospice care.

On December 3, 2015, HealthCetera producer Diana Mason interviewed Theresa Brown about her new book for WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York City.

The program then featured the first of a series of readings of short stories and poems by nurses. In 2014, the Center for Health, Media & Policy and the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing sponsored Bedpan Confessionals, a live storytelling series by nurses about their experiences, the meaning of caregiving and illness, and the profound, sometimes humorous moments shared with people when they are most vulnerable. On October 10th of 2015, the second Bedpan Confessionals took place at the Organic Soul Cafe of the Sixth Street Community Center in the East Village. It showcased a diverse group of nurses telling their stories and reading their poetry about the work they do and its impact on them and their patients. The evening evoked both laughter and tears, challenged how people think about the work nurses do, and gave us all pause about the experience of health and illness.

As with the 2014 readings, HealthCetera is broadcasting the readings as an ongoing series. The 2015 event was introduced by Amanda Anderson, RN, formerly a graduate scholar at the Center for Health, Media & Policy. Amanda developed the idea for the readings, coordinated the work that led up to the evening’s event, and served as the evening’s host. She introduces Amy Berman, RN, the first nurse to read her story at the 2015 Bedpan Confessionals.

You can listen to the program here: [wordpress]

HealthCetera is sponsored by the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College, City University of New York.