However, when Hollywood does take notice of this hardworking profession, it is usually in a negative light. We are either bed hopping drug addicts or little more than a doctor’s secretary.
The media has yet to get nurses right, but a new documentary called American Nurse is a step toward greater public understanding of what the profession of nursing is all about. It isn’t perfect, but it is better than a good deal of media inspired medical foolishness.
Plot and Synopsis
American Nurse is a documentary, not a movie, so it follows real nurses on the job. It follows five nurses in various challenging assignments around the country.
One nurse profiled is a hospice prison nurse who is in charge of caring for incarcerated patients at the end of their lives. It also focuses on a prisoner who finds redemption through volunteering in this unit.
Another nurse shown runs a nursing home and uses animals as a way to comfort and contact her elderly patients. The movie chronicles how the animals and the nurse make a difference in the patient’s lives.
The other nurses follow similarly outrageous paths. One is a home health nurse helping cancer patients in Appalachia, while another helps deliver children to women who have survived cancer.
All of these nurses are pioneers and worthy of our respect. Their stories are touching and important, focusing on the stories of the patients as much as the nurses.
Hits and Misses
While it is great that someone is taking the time to follow nurses on their journey, it can help but disappoint that the creators have gone for some sensationalist stories.
Would it be so hard to follow a floor nurse on their shift? Why you do you have to be doing something extraordinary in order to count as a nurse worth following?
I think that the nurses who are on the front lines deserve the attention and respect that nurses rarely get. True, trendsetters and pioneers are great examples, but what about ordinary nurses?
It would have been great to see more average nurses in this documentary because our lives are interesting and heroic, too. You don’t have to work with disabled vets to be important because all of our patients are important.
Should You See It?
Overall, this sounds like a great movie, and nurses should definitely see it. We need to support media images that get it right rather than the ones that completely sensationalize nursing.
Yes, Nurse Jackie is fun and Grey’s Anatomy is sexy, but what this documentary does is get to the heart of what nursing actually is. We see the caring of nurses in the field rather than the idealized pap fed to us by the rest of the media.
While it would have been great to see more “normal” nurses, these five profiled heroes are certainly worth the adoration. What they are doing in their communities for patients should be applauded and given all due respect.
Nurses should see it because it is a step toward making our profession more accepted as it really is. If we don’t support the people who get it right, then the people who get it wrong are more likely to keep the caricatures in the popular imagination.