MTV show trivializes health care profession

Jaclyn Brown — The Sputnik (Wilfrid Laurier University)

An image that nurses want to differentiate themselves from.

An image that nurses want to differentiate themselves from.

Waterloo (CUP) — On Oct. 24 MTV debuted their latest show Scrubbing In, which follows the party lifestyle of attractive twenty-something nurses in Los Angeles. Depicting nurses in a work hard, party hard way, the nursing community hasn’t exactly welcomed the show with open arms.

MTV has a notorious history of releasing provocative and offensive shows, as demonstrated by the highly controversial and wildly popular show Jersey Shore that managed to offend the entire state of New Jersey. However, nurses and nursing students across the country are speaking out about the damage these mediated images cause.

Barba Mildon, president of the Canadian Nurses Association, wrote a letter to MTV President Stephen Friedmen explaining her personal disgust with the show and her concern for its impact on new generations of nurses.

Scrubbing In’s dramatized account of nurses’ lives trivializes the critical work they perform,” wrote Mildon. “All of their hard work, from studying and gaining experience to answering nursing’s call, will be overshadowed by typical ‘reality’ show fodder.”

Mildon’s prediction regarding the program’s impact on new nurses is seemingly becoming a reality. Part of the most recent generation of nurses is Stephanie Brown, a second year student at University of Saskatchewan. She explains how popular shows like Scrubbing In give destructive depictions of nurses and are harmful to students in the profession.

“It has a very negative influence and it can cause sexual harassment. People have these expectations and they don’t take you as a professional,” says Brown.

She further emphasizes the strenuous studying and gruesome scenes she’s witnessed so far in nursing school. MTV’s show has made her see her nursing education in a different light.

“We’re meant to save lives and we do have a professional body of knowledge and we’re not taken seriously,” she says.

Although there has been no official boycotting of the show by nurses unions, Brown encourages students to look at theses media presentations with a critical eye.

“We’re still, as a profession, battling it. We have skill set, knowledge base, we have education, but it still doesn’t counter the negative images of the social media,” she argues.

Halloween at the University of Saskatchewan campus was an opportunity for social enlightenment as nurses spoke out about their portrayal in the media. Brown explained how Halloween marked the battle for nurses on campus to discourage students dressing up as the overly popular “sexy nurse.”

“No sexy nurses!” Brown said, laughing.

She describes how the nursing faculty on campus condemns the popular “sexy nurse” Halloween costume and she was not allowed to wear it. Brown explained that actions like these work toward the larger goal of changing students’ perception of nursing.

Although there has been no official boycott by the Canadian Nurses Association, Barbara Mildon left the MTV president with a final phrase to contemplate: “If you respect the nursing profession and the care we provide to millions of people every day, you will cancel Scrubbing In.”

MTV has not formally replied to Barbara Mildon’s letter, sent on October 21. In the meantime, Scrubbing In airs on MTV Thursday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.


Photo: mtv cjohnlang/flickr

  • slh

    This show is disgusting to me as a nursing student. I work incredibly hard, and to have to explain to my family and friends everyday that nursing is not a cop out from medical school or anything else. This show is not helping in that department. I do have a problem with the Sheaf saying Stephanie as seen gruesome scenes as she is only in second year and there isn’t anything gruesome we get to see… thanks for the support but lets not exaggerate.
    Having said all that we all know that MTV plays drivel and this show is about as much reality as you can get seeing as no one has enough energy to go out partying after a 12 hour shift saving lives or otherwise.