Healthcare leaders give new MTV nursing show mixed reviews

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An MTV show that follows travel nurses is getting mixed reviews from healthcare industry leaders.

The presidents of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists and American Nurses Association are criticizing "Scrubbing In," calling for the show's cancellation, Staffing Industry Analysis reports. They say the show reinforces negative and antiquated stereotypes about nursing during a time when the country faces a nursing shortage.

Other organizations, like the staffing firm that provided the nurses for the show, said there have been more positive comments than negative, and that the show will shine a spotlight on travel nursing as a profession.

"Scrubbing In," which debuted Oct. 24, portrays nine nurses working in Orange County, Calif. hospitals that went through the same background checks, education verifications and drug screens as all regular travel nurses, six of whom had experience with Level 1 trauma centers before shooting the show.   

"In reality, these nurses worked hard in the hospital for 13 weeks, they performed important work," said Alan Braynin, CEO of Aya Healthcare Inc., a San Diego-based healthcare staffing firm, according to the article. He said it's not meant to encompass the experiences of all travel nurses, and is geared toward an under-20-year-old audience. However, he does think it will get some people who never considered nursing to think about it as a profession.

Healthcare leaders in the nursing world don't agree, thinking it will hurt nurse recruitment.

Carol Manchester, president of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, called for the show to be canceled in her Nov. 5 letter to the president of MTV. "This program portrays nurses in a disrespectful and unfair light for purely salacious purposes," Manchester wrote in the letter, according to Staffing Industry Analysis. "We urge you in the strongest possible terms to cancel it." 

"I think there have been more travel nurses who have been supportive and understand that the show is a show and anything on television caters to a certain audience," said Braynin. "It's not meant to be an account of all travel nurses."

This isn't the first time health officials questioned whether television shows were ruining the nursing profession. Earlier this year, researchers wrote in the Journal of Advanced Nursing that shows like "Grey's Anatomy," "Mercy," "Private Practice," "Nurse Jackie" and "Hawthorne," when they attempt to confront negative stereotypes regarding male nurses, ended up reinforcing the stereotypesFierceHealthcare previously reported.

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