In the Media: MTV Responds to Outcry over ‘Scrubbing In’

Nov 20, 2013, 9:00 AM

This is part of the November 2013 issue of Sharing Nursing's Knowledge.

MTV executives are attempting to mollify nurses and nursing allies who are outraged over a salacious new “reality” television show about a group of young travel nurses in California.

The show, “Scrubbing In” amplifies tawdry aspects of the personal lives of a handful of young nurses and minimizes the important, life-saving work they do, critics say.

The show disrespects “the most respected profession,” said Karen Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association.

MTV officials responded with a recent announcement that they would take a number of steps to address the outrage, according to The Truth About Nursing, an advocacy organization that works to improve media portrayals of nurses.

Actions include re-editing some episodes to put a greater emphasis on clinical nursing skills; posting online material to educate visitors about the real reality of nursing education and practice; and airing the show at a less prominent time, potentially slashing viewership.

After the show began airing in October, some nursing organizations called for its cancellation, while others called for a more far-reaching boycott of the channel and its sponsors.

Negative portrayals of nurses undermine efforts to recruit new nurses and may exacerbate a shortage of nurses, Daley wrote in a letter to MTV President Stephen Friedman. More importantly, she added, they erode the trust patients place in nurses. “This show is neither ‘reality’ nor entertainment,” Daley wrote. “It’s harmful and irresponsible.”

Read a post about the show on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Blog.

Have you watched “Scrubbing In” on MTV? If so, what did you think? Do reality show portrayals of nurses have any impact? Register and leave a comment.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.