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Nurses in the Spotlight

Program aims to dismantle myths of nursing field

Donovan M. Smith | 12/5/2013, 4:18 p.m.
What do you picture when you think of a nurse? Sonya Justice’s theory is that if you’re like a lot ...
To the general public, the nursing profession can often be looked at as a second fiddle to doctors. Portland multimedia entrepreneur and longtime nurse Sonya Justice has created a show entitled ‘Reel Nurses Talk Show’ in an effort to shine light on the important role people in her medical profession play. Courtesy of Portland Community Media

What do you picture when you think of a nurse? Sonya Justice’s theory is that if you’re like a lot of people she’s encountered during her 15 years as a registered nurse in an Intensive Care Unit, you equate her profession somewhat to a second-rate role to doctors, a notion she is trying to destroy with her new television program Reel Nurses Talk Show.

“Modern 21st century nurses don’t take orders blindly, and we don’t really consider them orders,” says Justice, the nurse and producer of the show on Portland Community Media.

Doctors simply relaying commands and nurses unquestionably following them was never really how the job worked, Justice says.

Nurses are expected to function as collaborators in the delivery of medical care. For example, when physicians write a prescription for a patient, it is actually part of protocol for the nurses to review it thoroughly. Justice says it’s also up to nurses to raise a red flag if they think the doctor could be making a mistake in treatment, and though it can cause friction of egos sometimes, says her own questioning of a doctor’s decision in the past has led to better outcomes for patients.

“Now admittedly our training is not as in-depth as theirs to do a medical diagnosis and the treatment, but we have to have an idea of what they are doing or else it would not be safe for the patients or for us and our licenses,” she says.

People looking to become nurses like her, in fact, must be able to competently diagnose a range of ailments that range from neurological to circulatory problems in order to even receive their licensing. Facts like these, Justice, a graduate of a nursing school in Pittsburgh, says has become lost on the public in large part because of popular medical dramas that are meant to entertain and not necessarily inform. And though she says she regularly enjoys some of these shows herself, it can be frustrating to watch the nursing field be demeaned so often through the media.

Fueled by so many other misconceptions about her job, Justice created her TV program to educate the public on the real functions of nurses; fittingly she has titled it, Reel Nurses Talk Show.

The broadcasts balance two of her passions, media and nursing. For three years now she also has owned and published an award-winning magazine, Fabulous Nurse Magazine, in which she shares information with other nurses about career development, educational resources, and attending to your home life once the scrubs are off.

“I have a lot of non-nurse subscribers [too] but they’re usually like a mother figure, or married to a nurse; it’s usually someone who already thinks that nurses are wonderful people. But I realized that was preaching to the same people,” she says.

With the show set to premier on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m., Justice doesn’t just want nurses watching, she wants the whole public to tune in to set the record straight on the important function of nurses.

“Nursing has evolved,” she says “it’s been a long, long way to where we are today and unfortunately general opinion on the field has not caught up to what nurses actually do.”

All of the funding for the show has come from straight from her pockets. An Indiegogo campaign has been set up, however, for those looking to help assist in the show’s production. Visit indiegogo.com/projects/rntv to donate.

A full list of future airtimes for the Reel Nurses Talk Show can be found by visiting the Portland Community Media website, pcmtv.com and clicking ‘Programming Schedules.’

--Donovan M. Smith