December 13th, 2010 | The Blog
The Doctor Oz “Sexy nurses” skit on Oprah in November created a real furor, which still hasn’t gone away. Doctor Oz has since apologized and said that wasn’t the intent of the sketch. The uproar even made it to Bloomberg and the UK Daily Mail, which published the apology, which apparently wasn’t taken up by many US sites.
Doctor Oz, who’s a surgeon, has apologized for any offense, and in fairness, the skit does have a sort of “X minutes of weight loss issues looking good” approach, which if superficial, is pretty typical of the way these types of production are staged, live. This looks very much like a slightly scatterbrained, “When in doubt get a chorus line” approach to production. It’s almost standard.
The problem is that the nursing profession is in crisis, and the extremely high level of sensitivity to Doctor Oz in this context isn’t cosmetic. The image of the nursing profession is now becoming central to redefining and developing the actual nursing role. Nurses have been climbing the walls with various forms of denigration in terms of perceptions of their work.
The AMA has been patronizing and turf wars between doctors and nurse practitioners are now almost daily events. Some major league “thought leaders” in a survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that while nurses should take key roles in health care leadership, their media image was poor and counterproductive in terms of taking up those roles. That’s quite a euphemism for the facts, but it does describe the degrees of extreme difficulty for nurses in getting proper recognition in the media.
As a matter of fact, Doctor Oz could do some good by highlighting the various issues in nursing and getting these problems across to the public so they can be clearly understood. A bit of support from a well known surgeon who does know the situation could achieve the sort of media profile nurses need to get proper recognition.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt the health sector to have these huge problems front and center on major media, being handled by a medical professional. Nursing as a profession desperately needs to visibly upgrade itself in the media, and get out of the traditional image, which is so outdated it’s almost ridiculous, and definitely disrespectful.
Recognition of these critical problems could go a long way, and the public, for once, might get a true picture of nursing as it really is. Important issues like staffing, the availability of nursing training, and other big issues could get a workout.
If Doctor Oz and other medical pros in the media can get that done, the whole health care sector will be dancing in the streets.