In October, RPNAO and other nursing groups learned that MTV, a television network based in the United States, began broadcasting a new so-called ‘reality show’ called Scrubbing In, which depicts nurses engaged in unprofessional conduct both at home and in the workplace. The show’s stereotypical portrayal of nurses as sex objects is ignorant, demeaning, and damaging to nursing, especially in light of the unfortunate and persistent problem of sexual harassment and violence against nurses in the workplace.

This is the reason that RPNAO joined a number of nursing groups both in Canada and in the United States to petition MTV to cancel the show. Our Executive Director sent a letter to MTV to educate their executives about the ongoing struggle to end violence against nurses in the workplace. She told them that nurses are just plain sick of being disrespected. We also sent our members a link to the Action Alert page on the RPNAO website, which enables visitors to submit letters directly to MTV’s network executives to voice opposition to the negative stereotyping of nurses, as well as a link to a petition on the website in the United States, which has been a vocal opponent of the show. also features our Executive Director’s letter to MTV prominently on the “Scrubbing In” page of its website.

We think our unified campaign has been a success. Almost 900 nurses and their supporters accessed our Action Alert webpage to submit letters to MTV calling for the show’s cancellation. And over 31,000 people signed the petition to cancel the show on the website. We also received a number of supportive messages from nurses in Canada, the United States, and as far away as Europe who support our campaign to cancel to the show.

We are pleased to report that last month we received the news that MTV has decided to scale back its production of Scrubbing In, specifically by broadcasting the show in less prominent timeslots, re-editing some episodes in order to include more clinical scenes, putting information about the real reality of nursing on its website, and engaging nursing stakeholders in consultations about programming that features nurses.

Although the show is still on the air (albeit at less prominent times and with some editorial revisions) we feel encouraged by what nurses and supporters of nursing are able to accomplish when we work together. We would like to acknowledge those of you who took the time to join our campaign. Thank you for supporting a positive image of the nursing profession.


Category: Influencing Policy, Influencing CareDate: Monday, December 16, 2013