by, 10-13-2009 at 06:02 PM (6734 Views)
Bear with me as I deliver another critical commentary on the latest
series starring TV RNs.
Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe were bad enough, but at least they aired on cable to a limited audience. Mercy, a prime-time show that premiered Sept. 22, appears on NBC, a major network, free of charge.
The main character, Veronica, played by Taylor Schilling, carries enough personal baggage to warrant a separate series about her emotional life. An Iraqi War veteran with post traumatic stress disorder, Veronica is being treated for depression, drinking too much, mouthing off at work, dealing with an off-again, on-again marriage, living with alcoholic parents, and conflicted about rekindling a romance with a physician she had an affair with in Iraq.
Don’t the networks know there’s plenty of drama in clinics, ORs, EDs, and med-surg units without mixing in the upheavals of the caregivers’ personal lives? What’s more, between Nurse Jackie’s drug addiction and the turmoil in Veronica’s life, the public may start to think that emotional dysfunction is a prerequisite for nursing.
Haven’t NBC’s consultants told the writers and directors that most of us nurses learned early on to leave our problems and worries at the door when we entered the workplace? In fact, I think most nurses find they have little choice. Our patients and their families demand our full attention. We don’t have the time or inclination to dwell on our own troubles when we’re at work.
Not so for Veronica and her colleagues Sonia and Chloe and nurse characters on other shows. Husbands, partners, sweethearts, and children come bursting through the doors of EDs and patients’ rooms once or twice an episode.
And another thing —the nurses I know certainly don’t talk to patients as sarcastically as Veronica did in episode one of Mercy. When her 60-year-old patient with advanced carcinoma of the liver asks: “What are nurses good for,” Veronica retorts, “Well we do try to stop the doctors from killing you.”
Like every nurse with a few years in the trenches, I’ve had my share of disagreements and run-ins with doctors, but I’m already tired of the nurse TV show formula in which physicians are portrayed as egotistical snobs and nurses as smarter than the MDs and always right.
Maybe it wouldn’t irritate me quite so much if I thought the network was peddling pure fiction, but from the statement on NBC’s website about Mercy, it sounds as if the network thinks it’s giving us a close-to-reality show. The statement reads: “The stories of Mercy come from real life nursing — and the issues explored in the show reflect a spectrum of contemporary health issues. To help the public better understand the implications and intricacies of the show’s themes, this outreach page [on the Web] has been created with the assistance of the Hollywood Health and Society group at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Norman Lear.” (See www.nbc.com/mercy/about/resources.)
So my fellow nurses, watch an episode or two, then limber up your emailing fingers, and tell NBC what you think. There’s much more not to like than I could fit into this short critique. Send comments to:
Take pity on the men and women of the viewing public who could easily find themselves in a hospital bed some day. After watching Mercy, they might think they’ll meet up with a Veronica, Sonia, or Chloe.
Tell NBC to call the rewrite team in stat. We owe it to ourselves and our patients to speak up.