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March 13, 2012

UCLA School of Nursing's May 10 symposium will explore nursing images and the media

It is considered the most ethical and honest profession. Yet, when the public conjures up the image of a nurse, it is usually outdated and incorrect. 

At a time when America's nurses are assuming greater responsibilities in healthcare delivery and advocacy, it is time to get the image right. The UCLA School of Nursing will address this issue head-on in its annual media symposium "Nurses and the Media: A Call to Action." The May 10 symposium will bring together media analysts, journalists and authors with national nursing leaders to discuss how nurses are depicted "from journalism to Hollywood" and what nurses need to do to actually influence all types of media. 

"Last year we started the conversation," said MarySue Heilemann, R.N., Ph.D., associate professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and symposium creator. "There was a lot of great criticism and critique, but what we didn't present was data-based evidence - that is reliable research - about the image of nurses and what impact it has on the public's perception and delivery of care. This year we are going to focus on analysis of the image and relationships of nurses with the media as well as what nurses need to be doing to change that stereotypical and confusing image." 

Diana J. Mason, R.N., Ph.D., Rudin professor of nursing and co-director of the Center for Health, Media and Policy at the Hunter College, City University of New York, will be the keynote speaker. For 10 years, Mason was editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing and continues in an emeritus capacity. She currently serves as strategic advisor for the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, focused on coordinating implementation of the recommendations in the Institute of Medicine's report, "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health." As a nurse-journalist, she will talk about nurses' relationship, or the lack thereof, with public media and the level of readiness nurses need to be actively involved in creating media.

Kaleen Cullen, F.N.P., Ph.D., assistant director of the nursing program at California State University, Channel Islands, will present a review on the state of the science in research on the image of nurses in media and address the question: What do we really know about how nursing images in the media affect the public's perception of nurses? While her primary focus is Hollywood images, she will also talk about nurses in other mediums such as news and documentaries. 

Cullen and Mason will then join a roundtable discussion with additional participants including Theresa Brown, B.S.N., R.N., a regular contributor to the New York Times; Deborah Glik, a UCLA professor in public health who has done research on health communication in public media; and Kia Skrine Jeffers, a former Hollywood actor who is  now a nurse. An open forum will provide a rich opportunity for audience members to interact with the roundtable and answer the question: Are nurses ready to step up to the plate? 

"From this discussion, we hope to clarify the aims, purposes or goals that are guiding different nurses, nurse leaders, activists or nursing groups across the country in relation to the image of nursing and hopefully set some priorities for nurses here in Los Angeles, California and nationally," added Heilemann. 

"Over the past decade, the nation's three million nursing professionals have been quietly redefining and expanding their roles through championing quality of care improvements, spearheading research innovation, advocating for patient rights and generally challenging the status quo in ways the majority of the public is unaware," said Courtney H. Lyder, dean and professor of the UCLA School of Nursing. "Now it is time for journalists along with the television and film industries to recognize the growing, positive influence nurses have in every aspect of health." 

The symposium is open to the public.

The UCLA School of Nursing is redefining nursing through the pursuit of uncompromised excellence in research, education, practice, policy and patient advocacy. Ranked among the top nursing schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report, the school also is ranked No. 4 in nursing research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and No.1 in NIH stimulus funding. In 2009-10, the school received $24 million in total research grant funding and was awarded 26 faculty research grants. The school offers programs for the undergraduate (B.S.), postgraduate (M.S.N. and M.E.C.N.) and doctoral (Ph.D.) student. For more information, please visit the website at www.nursing.ucla.edu.

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