Archive for November, 2009

Certified Nurse Assistants in Pop Culture

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Pop culture has become the way in which many of us recognize the events that are going on in the world through a different light, as well as become informed of many positions through an entertainment venue.  Pop culture generally features well known references to a given population’s cultural values, including daily interactions of people broadcast through a wide entertainment source.  Twitter is one of the leading pop culture trends and has been brought up in nearly every type of forum, thus demonstrating its popularity within our culture.  While nursing in pop culture has been a trend dating back to the early twentieth century, certified nurse assistants have additionally become a prime target for the many hospital shows that are on TV, and allow many of us an insight into the balance between nurses and nurse assistants.

Grey’s Anatomy is an ABC sitcom which generally revolves around the lives of surgeons at Seattle Grace Hospital in Washington, although the nurses in the show have had prominent roles as well.  Even more important is the fact that nurse assistants have been mentioned, especially in episodes where there are mass patients due to some catastrophic incident.  While the nursing staff is not readily focused on in every episode, there are many scenes which demonstrate how busy they get, especially working in an emergency wing.  Therefore, their nurse assistants are ready to jump in and care for patients who may not be getting the attention they need from Registered Nurses.  Many episodes additionally feature elderly patients who are nearly on their death bed.  While it seems like the doctors are constantly tending to them, every time the doctors make their rounds, there is a nurse assistant in the room along with a relative. 

ER was the quintessential hospital show, running 15 years before airing the last episode this past year.  Featuring a multitude of different cast members, the show revolves around the lives of doctors and a few nurses as well.  Different from Grey’s Anatomy, this show builds up the characters of its nurses, rather than focusing solely on doctors, thereby becoming more analogous to real-life hospital settings.  While nurse assistants were not readily featured on the show, they played many recurring characters, especially since one of the primary characters on the show was Nurse Carol Hathoway, distinguishable from the doctors due to her pink scrubs.  Similar to Grey’s Anatomy, nurse assistants are not readily mentioned on the show, but are always in the background of the show to make the drama more realistic. 

Finally, the medical comedy Scrubs takes a different spin on the medical community by making interactions between doctors, nurses, and patients comical, rather than the dramatic approach other medical TV shows take.  Ending earlier this year as well, the show revolved around the lives of several doctors and nurses from the point of view of Doctor J.D. Dorian.  The head nurse in this hospital is one of the main characters of the show and demonstrates how important nurses are to the structure of the hospital.  Additionally, her nurse assistants are a prominent force within the hospital and help tend to many of the patients throughout the series.

While certified nurse assistants may not be a primary role in any pop culture reference to nurses, they are typically in the background tending to patients, both in TV and in real life.  Registered Nurses would not be able to do their jobs without their assistants, thereby emphasizing their vital role within the hospital. 

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