April 26, 2009, 7:53 am

Nurse Jackie: Drug Addicted Nurse Character Hits the Airwaves…Again

header_nursejackieThat’s Edie Falco.

You remember.  She played Carmella Soprano.

Great actress; I love her.

Too bad I won’t be watching her new character on Showtime.


“Nurse Jackie” is a new series.

I received an email from Showtime asking me if I would curate a selection of nursing experiences for an upcoming “Nurse Stories” web site that would coincide with the debut of Nurse Week and “Nurse Jackie”.


I don’t get email from Showtime every day, so this sounded pretty interesting.

I went to the website to check out the show before responding.

I made it through one video.


Nurse Jackie is a competent, hard-as-nails, take-no-prisoners ER nurse.

With a heart, of course.

One minute she’s telling a doctor he’s full of it, the next minute she tells a patient to get out of her ER (classic!).

Edie Falco is perfect as the title character.

You’ve all worked with her.

Hell, you might even be her!


My first reaction?

Oh..my..god, they did it!

They made a show with a strong nurse protagonist, and damn! if they didn’t get the ER environment down!

I had goosebumps, literally.

I was ready to (a) start getting Showtime, (b) spread the word far and wide and (c) take the job.

But then…


They started grabbing her chest.

I think in a the short video I watched (five minutes?) Nurse Jackie had her breasts fondled by three men.

Oh great.

My first thought?

Here we go again with the nurse-as-sex-object stereotype.

(Actually, my first thought is that I must be working in the wrong hospitals.)

But it got worse.


Nurse Jackie is a drug addict.

Has back pain.

Snorts crushed up Percocets.

Oh no they didn’t………


Oh yes.

They did.

Now, would somebody please tell me why, why? they had to portray this nurse as a drug addict?

Did they not see that they had the potential for one hell of a nurse character here?

Did they not see that they could break the mold of media stereotypes in nursing and pave new ground?

Did they not see that there is enough material to build a nurse character out of what happens in the ER alone without adding the oh-so-subtle touch of drug addiction?


If you’re an nurse who spends a lot of time with other people fondling you, you might like this show.

If you’re an RN and addicted to drugs, you might like this show.

In fact, why don’t you go check out the website for yourself.

Watch the video, get a feel for the character.

Tell me what you think.

Tell Showtime what you think.

And if you are really pissed, write to The Truth About Nursing.

I already did.


As for me?

I (a) am not subscribing to Showtime, (b) will not promote the show to anyone outside this blog post and (c) did not take the job.

I am so sick, and so tired, of stupid media portrayals of nurses.

Didn’t watch “ER”.  No “Grey’s Anatomy”. Won’t watch “House”.

Here goes trying to explain to my patients, again, that “no, I don’t watch that show because of the portrayal of nursing.”


You blew it, Showtime.

Of course, it’s not too late to rectify the issues, the show has not debuted yet.

But know this:

No matter how funny, how dramatic or how well written “Nurse Jackie” is, you are doing nothing to advance or promote the nursing profession. But then I guess the goal is ratings and nothing defines a “hit” like sex and drugs.


“Nurse Jackie” is described as “Saint!  Sinner!”.



Sound familiar?



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  • Healthcare Today
    Healthcare Today

    April 26, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Nurse Jackie: Drug Addicted Nurse Character Hits the Airwaves…Again // Emergiblog…

    Nurse Jackie. Drugs, sex, and more nursing stereotypes. Here we go again….

  • ButtercupRN

    April 26, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Oh Jeez,I’m sorry to hear that,I won’t be watching it or subscribing to showtime either. It’s bad enough that people treat us like servants,now they’ll be sure that we’re not in their room when they need us because we’re getting it on or taking their narcs,great.

  • maha

    April 26, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Oh great! If this show airs, I’ll get drug seekers accusing me of hoarding the narcs for myself. What a scam! I remember an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in which one of the characters (George) says that he stayed with the patient all night measuring ins and outs. Ha! Yeah right!

  • RehabRN

    April 26, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Thank you! Thank you!

    I was going to ask your opinion (and the other ER nurses) on this one. I’ll just have to send the Rommel person (who sent me the e-mail a nice reply).

    Ain’t no way I’m watching! Why…well…

    1. I am not an ER (ED) nurse nor do I purport to be.

    2. They wanted to use a quote out of context from my blog….totally had nothing to do with the ER, but did have the letters “ER” in it (thanks Google!).

    Besides, I don’t have Showtime and I’m pissed, especially about the drug part. Do we really want kids/others to think that all nurses are snatching Percocets?

    Come on Showtime (and your parent CBS)!

    Guess they’ll just have to add this to the list of duds, such as Swingers, the CBS/Showtime combo has come up with lately. I think the United States of Tara has a better chance of surviving than Nurse Jackie.

    Boy, I’m gonna be busy!

  • Reality Rounds
    Reality Rounds

    April 26, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Gag! I will watch the show only to post on how ridiculous I am sure it will be. Sex with the doctor in the storage closet, how original! Edie Falco has certainly lowered her acting standards.

  • Mother Jones, RN
    Mother Jones, RN

    April 26, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Puke, gag, barf! They only stereotype Showtime missed in their promo was the gay-guy nurse. One of the producers said that she would want a nurse just like Jackie taking care of her if she were a patient in the hospital. Really? You would want someone strung out on drugs looking out for your welfare? I think not, lady. What else can I say? This is sickening.

  • Black Cloud ER Tech
    Black Cloud ER Tech

    April 26, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Emergiblog has one again gotten a bullseye! Great post Kim!

    As health care professionals, why don’t we all take our cocktail of Dilaudid & Zofran, watch this HORRIFIC protrayal of ER medicine, and giggle each time there is something remotely funny.

    Seriously… I might actually need that Zofran after the amount of nausea that the sheer idea of that show gave me. ER and Grays Anatomy glamourized ER health care with their sex appeal and drama… now SHOWTIME has added the Drugs, and probably some Rock and Roll… Great! Showtime has told US how to do our jobs. Thats right kids! You, too, can be a ER health care provider with Sex, Drugs, and Rock&Roll. Even Mother, Jugs and Speed wasn’t as bad as these shows, and there was some pretty shaddy stuff going on in that film.

    I have had patients as me if the ER career was like the tv shows. Do people TRUELY beleive what they see on the TV shows as real? Do they really thing that we are all strung out on drugs, hungover, drunk, and partaking in dirty deeds in the clean utility rooms of ER USA?


    An idea for HBO (a compeditor of Showtime): I propose that we all revert back to the show Emergnecy, and make a modern day version! Dignify emergnecy health care with a true-to-life show that portrays professionals as they really are and not as sex drug and rock and roll heros!

    My final thought… Well I can’t get one out, as I am about to blow chunks just thinking about the retarded show that Showtime thinks will make them Millions!

  • Rkebob RN
    Rkebob RN

    April 26, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I don’t have Showtime or even a TV. But I find most, if not all, medical shows to be silly and inaccurate in varying ways. So why am I not surprised over Nurse Jackie–Saint! Sinner!

    Aren’t most nurses just normal people? A combination of traits and personalities. Very few saints, although I have run into a few martyrs. Can’t a TV nurse have a personality strong enough to carry a show, but yet be realistic and normal???

  • Sean

    April 26, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    The question in my mind is, who the heck is writing this crap.. and where did they get the idea?
    Who amongst us nurses would ever say yes to being a consult on this show! I mean really.
    It is sad that ratings will always trump the truth. Because the truth is too much like REALITY.

  • [...] nurse bloggers:  Rehab RN, Emergiblog, Nurse Ratched’s [...]

  • Reality Rounds
    Reality Rounds

    April 26, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I am not sure if my post is ready for prime time, or Change of Shift. Oh well. Thank you Kim for bringing attention to this crap.

  • T Burnett RN
    T Burnett RN

    April 26, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Just like you… saw the promos and went “Wow”, til the drug addict part….
    Then to make matters worse, the dumb ass producer sits there on the promo and says she would rather have Nurse Jackie take care of her and her family before any other nurse.
    I guess she does not know just what a stupid ignorant idiot she sounded like. Yes, lets let a IMPAIRED nurse make emergency decisions for me and my family. Not only does she make nurses look stupid, but so does she perpetuate the idea of stupid women producers in LA.

  • Nurse K
    Nurse K

    April 27, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Now, would somebody please tell me why, why? they had to portray this nurse as a drug addict?

    It’s TV! OMG!

    And like I said on Twitter…everyone knows someone who has been fired etc for stealing drugs at work…it’s not that uncommon. Maybe it’ll bring attention to the problem of nurses/health care staffers who get addicted to drugs or who go into health care due to easy accessibility of drugs…

    If not, it’s a TV show.

  • Nicole

    April 27, 2009 at 11:31 am

    So annoying. However, I heard there will be a new nurse drama show coming out with Jada Pinkett Smith on TNT, so we’ll see how that plays out.


  • Vangee

    April 27, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    I just watched the promo here in California and I’m so disappointed! I hope every nurse in the
    USA writes Showtime to tell them how unacceptable this character “Jackie” is to the public, patients and the profession.
    Television is a place of fantasy certainly, but
    this seems to be just a pathetic, cliched, soap opera. There’s enough drama and comedy in what real nurses experience that they didn’t need to go down this sorry path. The drug use aspect troubles me as others have mentioned, but I was horrified by her forging a signature.
    I say let’s picket Showtime and get them to apologize to every nurse in the country for this pathetic attempt to make money with this awful characterization of nurses.
    Great blog! Thank you.

  • TraumaDiva

    April 28, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    God that just rips me a new one!!!! Yet again! Holy crap! Kalisch and Kalisch did work back in the 1970s and 1980s about the “image of the nurse” Geeshh…it hasn’t changed. If they don’t show them just f($King then they show them ad drug addicts.

    Hold on while I have a primordial SCREAM! Dang it!!!!! Thanks for the protest!

  • goatpl

    May 2, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Never heard of drug addiction being a nurse stereotype.

  • Kim

    May 2, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Yeah, TNT does seem to be working the strong female protagonist angle lately! I’ll almost certainly be tuning in to see HawthoRNe despite the awkward caps. Nurse Jackie on the other hand? No thanks.


  • jessica

    May 4, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Saw the promo and got really excited..wow..finally a TV show about nurses…then saw the trailer. Seriously disappointed! I have never had my breast touched by a coworker, or any other part of my body, nor would I allow or condone such behavior. I would never forge a signature or steel my patients drugs. I take my career and my profession seriously and take pride in what I do. This is not an accurate perception of the nursing profession.

  • Marisa

    May 6, 2009 at 6:32 am

    I know I am the minority here, but I saw the pilot of Nurse Jackie and thought it was pretty good. Yeah, were all not drug addicts and banging white coats, but the show wasn’t bad besides that stuff. oh well.

  • RN

    May 8, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Silly bunch of remarks which seem to be all about “image”, by people who have not even seen the show (so what else is new?).

    Seems to me that the only problem is that the description of the show does not match what some of you wanted it to be.

    Reread Aristotle’s “Poetics” and notice that even back then, the presence of a “tragic flaw” was considered necessary to absorbing drama.

  • missbhavens

    May 9, 2009 at 5:08 am

    Oh, lame. LAME!

    I don’t even own a tv, but I saw a poster for the show and thought “well, theyr’e going for a hard-as-nail-RN” thing, wich is fine, because Edie Falco can totally pull that off. I figured I’d netflix it or something when the time comes.

    Hmmm…don’t know if I will.

    I’ll give it a smidge of a chance, though, on the hope that the trailer is 10x more over-the-top-intense/ridiculous as the show itself, because that’s a trailer’s job. It’s only designed to suck people in, not be a true synopsis.

    If the show turns out to be 75% nursing drama and 25% her screwy personal life, fine. But if it’s the other way around? I’ll cry “foul”.

  • lightenup

    May 10, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    it isn’t even on the air. lighten up. if it’s half as good as the first on, i’m all in–showtime screened it for us at work. give it a chance…for once it’s not about the doctors. and guess what…i’m 25 years sober and i’ve worked with many an altered nurse. don’t you think they’re gonna try to deliver her from her addiction? i’m all for stories about people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps. i love falco. i love the ED, and i’m getting showtime. i fell lucky that “carmela” decided to tell these stories. it means a lot to me that they took the time to get the vibe right. and from what i hear, it’s almost all hospital stuff.

  • [...] Reality Rounds has to say… She makes some great points and so do those who comment. Check out Emergiblog as [...]

  • Jessie

    May 16, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    “Didn’t watch “ER”. No “Grey’s Anatomy”. Won’t watch “House”.”

    There are no nurses on House.

  • fed up rn
    fed up rn

    May 17, 2009 at 9:35 am

    wondered how long it would take till a couple of showtime staffers saw this blog and started to act like they were nurses.

  • C.Edwards

    May 18, 2009 at 8:12 am

    I previewed the first 6 episodes and I enjoyed it, that cast is good and Edie Falco really carries it.

    I think your nurse-as-sex object is taken out of context.

  • Tia RN Student
    Tia RN Student

    May 19, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Ithink the show is a bad idea. I’m going into nursing because I want to help people not use drugs. It takes a special person to be a good nurse and no person in their right mind would want a drug addict nurser to take care of them. It saddens me that they would take such an honorable profession and degrade it so.

  • ER RN
    ER RN

    May 21, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    What a degrading show to all nurses. This is not telling the story of a hospital through a nurse. There is an appropriate way to make this person a strong nurse without degrading the nursing profession. And what about signing the back of the license for organ dontaion, this would NEVER happen and the family is always asked first by professionals not forced into a decision. I am digusted and appalled!!!!

  • ER RN
    ER RN

    May 21, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    The drug part is not the worst thing, I would enjoy watching her get pulled up and recovered….that would make for an interesting show…..its all about the ethics of some other parts for me. People should realize it is just a show, but guaranteed not everyone will!

  • ICU-RN

    May 24, 2009 at 9:42 am

    um this is a show…A TV SHOW. its not a reality show, its not a contest show, a regular ole showtime show. i wonder if single moms in so-cal got their shorts in a wad because of weeds…not all nurses steal/do drugs, and not all single moms sell weed. get over it

  • RN

    May 24, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Some of you really worry me. If you have a hard time telling the difference between TV fantasy and professional reality, it’s not a very good portent.

    Is “General Hospital” going to be the next target for self-righteous indignation?

    Don’t like the show? Then don’t watch it, but spare us the knickers in a bunch drama.

  • Melanie

    May 25, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    I have recently watched the premeire episode of Nurse Jackie and I found the show to be quite good! I am not a nurse so I will not pretend to be. I just want to say that since I am an adult I can separate a fictional show with fictional characters from how real nurses really are. I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy and assume that everyone in a hospital is sleeping with eachother. Just like I will not watch Nurse Jackie and assume that all nurses have drug problems. But to say that you will not watch Nurse Jackie because of that is just silly and I feel sorry for you missing out on a great show which I am sure it is going to be. Edie Falco is a fantastic actress and this character being played by any other actress I just couldn’t imagine. Also for some of you to act like some nurses don’t have drug problems or issues whatsoever must live in a bubble because the last I checked nurses are people too which means they have flaws and problems like everyone else. So stop acting like this show is going to ruin the image of nurses everywhere and just enjoy the show for its ENTERTAINMENT value that all it was supposed to be taken for in the first damn place. I mean really!!

  • Geraldo

    May 27, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    The profession of nursing is wrought with mismanagement and abuse. We suffer forms of abuse from physicians, administrators, patients, and families. We are appreciated at the level of a waitress in a diner. I think the profession as bigger fish to fry than this creative work of fiction. I for one will be watching it, mostly because most programming is shit these days. Oh, and I am RN, BSN, CEN, CCRN.

  • Linestepper

    May 29, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    To offer a different perspective, perhaps you should be happy you work in a field interesting enough to merit a tv show. A umber of them actually. I’m in technical support and you’ll never see a show about our field of expertise.

    when I do watch tv it’s to escape from reality not be submerged in it, I get enough reality from my own real life, I don’t need or want more of it. Perhaps you do. However since companies like Showtime are in the business of making money I fully expect them to cater to their audience, whatever makes for good drama is what’s going to air.

    If my tech support tv show ever does air I sure don’t expect the characters to talk about coding in UNIX or develop characters exactly like myself or the fine people I work with because as nice as we all are, sticking a camera in front of us and airing the results would be as much fun as watching grass grow. Of course it’s going to be fantastical and overly dramatic.

    Methinks your expectation of television is set much too high. I’m sure all of us non-RNs could use some added appreciation of your fine profession but I certainly don’t look to the tv as a source for this kind of inspiration.

    And if you don’t watch House because of these expectations, I feel sorry for you. Regardless of how unrealistic the situations are or whether they are performing a procedure correctly, etc, you are missing out on a great character. Period.

  • [...] over at Emergiblog spawned quite the conversation about this new show. I whole heartedly agree with the concept of the show, but cannot get my mind [...]

  • Rolfs

    May 29, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Really? Disgusting.

  • Jess RN
    Jess RN

    May 29, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I agree with the people that are offended about the image of nursing that is portrayed in this show. If nurses don’t stand up for ourselves and let the people at Showtime and CBS know we are offended, then we have no one to blame about the image they present. While I can accept that this is a fictious drama, there are a lot of people out there that will think that this is what real nurses are like.
    I would have no problem with her being a recovering addict and having completed a treatment plan, but actively using, especially while at work is unacceptable. That is not to mention that the “nurse as sex object” shows up again.

  • Isyou

    May 29, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    sew it up, i’ve worked in an ER since I was in high school, and all i gotta say is who cares!?

    house is a great show, so was early ER, i’m sure this will be at least decent given the cast and writers. do you think every italian cringes at the site of the sopranos or every forensics expert at dexter…no its just tv drama!

    give it a shot at least!

  • Concerned but hopeful
    Concerned but hopeful

    May 30, 2009 at 12:18 am

    What would be wonderful is if all concerned RNs would incessantly write to and contact Showtime so that the show can and will be molded into the real lives of nurses. The foundation with Edie Falco is one that could redeem your pleas. Plus she is a staunch Catholic. Try to implore her to see how negative and damaging this show can be to the underpaid but hugely benevolent profession of nursing.

  • Paula Davies Scimeca, RN, MS
    Paula Davies Scimeca, RN, MS

    May 30, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    As an RN for more than thirty years who has worked exclusively with chemically dependent nurses since 2003, my concerns about the “Nurse Jackie” series are about something more precious than our image: our health and well-being.

    With Vicodin the most frequently prescribed medication in 2008 and several million Americans admitting to recreational use of opiates, the graphic images in the show may entice more nurses to cross that line. The consequences are so great, stripping many of license and livelihood, and some nurses of their life.

    I contacted Showtime and offered to send them a free copy of my book “Unbecoming A Nurse” so they could understand how flammable a situation this is.

    Colleagues, even if the consequences of what happens to nurses like Jackie could be shown on TV, trust that not even an actress as accomplished as Edie Falco could communicate the despair and heartache I have witnessed in nurses who thought they could self-medicate. Whether you watch the show or read a book, please stay safe.
    Paula Davies Scimeca, RN, MS

  • Laddy

    May 31, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    I understand why nurses might be sensitive to any portrayal of themselves on television; especially a stereotypic one. Keep in mind that this is entertainment and that there may be more here than meets the eye.

    It seems this show, in addition to being about a nurse, is about addiction and someone whose life is out of control. We might be surprised to see a deeper and more meaningful story unfold here, and maybe even a message or two about addiction!

    Be careful not to judge too quickly – if Showtime revealed everything in the first episode, they wouldn’t have a show or a season! The pilot may not be the whole story. I’m going to hope for the best with this show, it has great potential and a wonderful actress in the starring role.

  • Suzi

    June 1, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I watched exactly 6 minutes of it online. After she snorted narcotics, I almost bailed out but thought I would stick with it.
    It wasn’t until she sat in the grieving mother’s living room (yeah right) telling HER that her unmarried son was an organ donor (to her surprise…come ON!) that I couldn’t take it anymore.
    Another lost opportunity. Too bad. I love Edie Falco

  • Jack

    June 1, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Last week I watched the full half-hour Episode One online. I wanted to like the show, because the main character is a nurse. With the “Requiem for a Dream” style opening, my heart sank a little. I keep reading the comments on this site and other nursing sites that EVERYONE knows a nurse who’s addicted or steals drugs. I don’t. I live with a nursing student, and he’s one of the hardest working, honest, decent people I know. He wants to be a RN.

    After finishing the show, I still wanted to like it. But after some reflection, I realize they chose Emmy acting opportunities for Edie over portraying the realities of what a nurse faces. There’s plenty of drama in real life, so other than acting award opportunities, why does she need an addiction? The difference between this show and “Weeds” is simple: a nurse will be taking your vitals at 2am, administering life or death medication, so on. When you distort that profession, the implications are much more profound than the misrepresentation of a housewife.

    Clearly they chose to set the show in the ER because that’s where the all the action is in the hospital, right? Lots of opportunities to have people being wheeled in at cool camera angles, with all kinds of gory, high production value injuries. Ugh! And the hospital seemed deserted, with endless hallways. Where is this place??

    The depiction of the nursing student’s duties are unrealistic. Is she 1st year RN, does anyone working on the show care? They would not ask for a volunteer to wheel the vials around. It was simply a dramatic trick so they could cut to the other shaking vials, and pull back to see Jackie having sex in the supply room.

    Again, I really wanted to like the show. And so everyone here knows, I work in the business (very low level). I don’t have the contacts yet, but I’ve wanted to create a realistic nurse show or film for many years. I hope this new program on Showtime doesn’t diminish my opportunity to write my show and have it produced

    By the way, I don’t smoke weed with my producer friends up in the Hollywood Hills. I have real life experience and know the real life struggles of nurses. The reason you don’t get realistic depictions on television is because the decision-makers are generally living in a bubble, removed from the day to day realities of regular people. Fancy restaurants, 5 star hotels, valet parking, 1st class airline seating, a home in the Hills with a pool: nurses don’t live in that world.

  • Jack

    June 1, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Now that the pilot episode is out and viewable, discussion boards about it on nursing sites are either closed or populated with more people trying to promote the show. I would like people to note if they are connected to nursing directly or through someone they know, or if they just like the show and want to promote it on the internet. It would help knowing where the comments come from.

  • Suzi

    June 1, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I posted June 1, 0914.
    I am a registered nurse-22 years. I’ve done every kind of nursing except birthing babies.

  • Mike Rocks
    Mike Rocks

    June 1, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Perhaps I’ve been in some horrible environments, but I have worked in different ERs for over 20 years, and I thoroughly enjoyed Nurse Jackie.

    I’ve never seen House, Grey’s Anatomy, or ER, but I thought this was a pretty accurate portrayal of a small handful of nurses. Sure, 97% of nurses are normal, hard-working saints, but I have never worked in a single ER that didn’t have at least one “Nurse Jackie” type. For whatever reasons, ERs have always been a hotbed of sexual tension, and I can recall at least one nurse/doctor hookup in the supply closet that got busted and wound up in firings. Three nurses I’ve worked with in the last year have been fired for prescription drug abuse. The were all generally regarded as great RN’s.

    I’m not saying that these are normal people or even a small majority of nurses, but it’s not exactly like this is type of character exists only in drama. I honestly think I would be bored senseless watching a show about that 97% of great, moral nurses.

  • Suzi

    June 2, 2009 at 4:34 am

    ….”honestly think I would be bored senseless watching a show about that 97% of great, moral nurses.”

    That’s a good point.

  • Jack

    June 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Mike, I agree. Our media is saturated with portrayals of great and moral characters. I’m hard-pressed to think of any shows that depict moral compromise. A character with an addiction, which we’ve never seen on television – especially a medically oriented show – is truly unique entertainment.

    But seriously, the show’s PR claims it explores the difficulty of working in a broken health care system. For audience members who haven’t worked in an ER or hospital, or don’t know a health professional personally, the concern is that this rare show that comes along with a nurse as the lead will exaggerate the role nurses play in the breakdown of trustworthy health care. This is not to say audiences aren’t discerning or intelligent. There isn’t anything else out there (yet – HawthoRNe premieres on TNT in June) that depicts the true complexity of nursing.

    I suppose it’s entertaining to watch her snort pain killers, flush an ear down the toilet, get groped by a doctor, or puncture a bike messenger’s tire. But something unique, truly different from most of what’s out there already, might also be entertaining.

  • Jill Bryant
    Jill Bryant

    June 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Hi – I came to this site looking for more about the show Nurse Jackie since I just saw the pilot on Hulu. I’m not a nurse so I don’t have the sensitivity to the subject matter that you do but I thought it was great. Any show that starts off with a little T.S. Eliot, quotes St. Augustine, has the Valley of the Dolls theme song leading into her addiction stemming from a back problem…wow. I did want to let you know it didn’t make me think less of nurses – it made me think that it’s back-breaking work and that it’s difficult not to get cynical when you care too much. And, that she isn’t a saint – not because of the drug problem which you KNOW is a nowhere street because she admitted to almost messing up a patient in a job she obviously cares deeply about – but, the cheating on her husband part. I found that part unbelievable (because she’s tired and works so hard and her husband looked very cute and seemed nice) and the forgery because I can’t even forge my mother’s handwriting and I tried quite a few times growing up – maybe it’s a secret talent.

    I do find it interesting that there’s rarely any challenging material that doesn’t offend someone.

  • Mike Rocks
    Mike Rocks

    June 2, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    I get what you’re saying, even through the thick sarcasm.

    I suppose I look at it this way:
    It’s coming of right after Weeds, for heaven’s sake. Does anyone really believe that drug dealers are sassy Prius-driving housewives with iced coffee addictions? Who take on both the DEA and the Mexican mafia and win both fights? This is showtime we’re talking about; mindless entertainment on a network that a decade ago was more known for late night nudity.

    At the end of the day if you’re looking to them for realistic drama and positive role models you’re fighting a losing battle.

  • Getty

    June 2, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    It’s a television show, thats all it is!

    I’ve been an Intensive Care Nurse for a long time now, and I have known nurses who are druggies, nurses who are alcoholics and nurses who are having extra martial flings, goodness I’ve enthusiastically aided and abetted them in all three acivities….

    It just means nurses are humans, that’s all!

    And I stress again..IT”S JUST A Television show!

  • jessica

    June 3, 2009 at 7:39 am

    As someone who has just come through a painkiller addiction (with the help of nurses and doctors and hospitals) I have to take a little offense at your poo-pooing of “drug addicts”. I don’t know how this show will portray this nurse’s chronic pain condition, but addiction to painkillers (which doctors are all too willing to throw at a patient for months and months until THEY decide it’s too much) is a subject that i think needs MORE spotlights and LESS stigma.

    I became addicted to painkillers (Vicodin, oxy, fentanyl) because my doctors told me it was all I could do, and they gave me more and more at higher dosages, warning me not to get in trouble with it.

    It’s a horrid rollercoaster. And if shows like House and Nurse Jackie lead one person to look in the mirror and say “is that who I am?” maybe it’ll be worth it.

    No, not all nurses are drug addicts. But they aren’t all saintly mothers of mercy either. This is t.v. Drama sells. And sometimes it helps save a life.


    June 3, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Hey look a show that is as offensive to nurses as Grey’s Anatomy is to surgeons and surgery residents. At least Nurse Jackie has better writing and acting. I don’t think the drug addiction is the worst part about the show…but rather the pattern of unethical behavior. Maybe that’s the idea, maybe it’s a series about redemption. Overall, it looks like it could be a pretty interesting vehicle to highlight the profession of nursing, although it would be better if the lead character didn’t have to carry ALL of the flaws, since drug addiction is probably enough. But like I tell patients watching hospital shows, while lying IN a hospital bed…it would be more interesting to just look out of your room door to see the real thing.

  • obdoc

    June 3, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    I agree with you 101%.
    I will not watch it either.
    But I don’t watchHouse for the same reason- people who are drug addicts cannot and should not be allowed to work in medicine unless they are clean and sober.
    This hollywood myth of cops who drink and drive and shoot is matched by this myth of truly functional drug addicts.
    My concern is the role model it sets for the younger generation.
    State nursing boards are tougher on addicted nurses (it seems most lose their license) than the state physician boards are on addicted physicians (most keep their license).
    So beware the casual drug use and abuse young peoples! Seriously!

  • [...] has sex with coworkers on the job (Edie Falco), is drawing criticism from nurse bloggers including Emergiblog, My Strong Medicine and Young and Restless Nurse who all echo the same concern: No matter how [...]

  • jessica

    June 4, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    You’re living in a dream world if you don’t think that your daily life is LITTERED with functional drug addicts. I was holding down a full time job, caring for a child, performing on stage, and no one knew I was taking 400 mgs of Oxycontin a day.

    The REAL myth is the one that keeps everyone comfortable, believing that only uneducated, slimy dirtbag criminals are drug addicts…unshaven, stumbling around on the street with the shakes. I met a doctor in NA that did BRAIN SURGERY under the influence of four doses of tylenol3.

  • Mike C
    Mike C

    June 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I make nursing and surgical videos for a living. My wife is a former MRI/CT tech. We enjoy watching and criticizing fictional medical shows. As a fictional cable drama, Nurse Jackie holds our attention. But as far as doing a disservice to nurses, the show succeeds even more. America in the next 30 years is going to be short about a half million nurses due to shrinking nursing faculties, burnout, injuries and attrition. The last thing we need to do is portray nurses as losers. Sure her character sticks up for patients and keeps an eye on the doctors, but she also committed several crimes in the first episode alone.

  • Brian

    June 4, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I am an ER nurse and I am really disappointed! Nurse Jackie is a drug addict and sleeps with doctors in the storage closet. Thanks Showtime! So much for promoting the image of the profession. As a nurse I am VERY offended! And of course they had to make the one male nurse gay! Just one more stereotype to overcome for those of us who are male nurses! This show stinks worse than most things I’ve smelled at work and that is bad! Canceling my subscription to Showtime tomorrow!

  • confused

    June 4, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Wow. I just saw this show and thought it was great so I’m kind of surprised by the nature of the criticism here. I know there are concerns about the effects that medical/law dramas have on viewers (CSI Effect etc..) but as a media scholar I’ve never seen the solution to be “stop using those scenarios to act out the story” to be better than “stop being so ignorant of your own world as to believe that what you see on TV is a mirror to real life.”

    What it sounds like you want is to watched a standardized version of your real-lives. On TV. After work. For entertainment. I get that the medical profession is its own layered and interesting world, so is that of politics, the judicial system, the advertising world, married life, the dating scene, and the event of hanging out with your close-knit group of friends at a coffee shop.

    Should none of our television shows take place in those settings, with those characters, because they are written around unique, complicated and fantastic situations? If they aren’t showing a positive spin on the “norm” do these shows not belong on TV?

    Nurse Jackie is a smart, complex show with a phenomenal lead actress. You all might be experts on nursing but I’m an expert on TV -and I will be watching because it’s my job AND because it’s fun.

    And if I find myself watching a TV show about an, albeit drug addicted, bad ass teacher who changes her students lives through witty dialog and smart conniving schemes, I can imagine I’d watch and enjoy instead of complaining that most college professors don’t have their own offices and diamond-in-the-rough students rarely blossom in front of your eyes in a single episode..

  • [...] as so many commenters pointed out in the great discussion following my “Nurse Jackie” post, no television show is going to be perfect in its portrayal of any profession (my hubby used [...]

  • brian

    June 5, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Unless you are a nurse, don’t try to chastise the nurses who are offended by the show. Reinforcing a stereotype is not welcome by the profession, and no amount of the “people are mature enough to distinguish fiction from reality” argument will alleviate the results of such a show, especially when there is a significant nursing shortage that’s getting worse…portrayal in this light may not be the best recruitment strategy…

    A long time ago, nurses were forbidden to marry and had to stay in dormitories and were routinely “courted” by the male physicians on staff. Reinforcing the nurse-brothel/ subordinate/ sex-toy stereotype is old. And it’s not what the profession needs.

  • Sue RN
    Sue RN

    June 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for this review which is saving me money. I saw a preview at work, while doing a dressing change. I was like WOW, AWESOME and I was about to call and get Showtime added to my cable line up but thought maybe a google search might be in order and here I am, convinced I don’t want to waste my money.

    This sucks. It could have been so good. They could deal with all kinds of moral dilemmas in medicine and imperfections in nurses without making her a junkie dammit! And they could even make episodes about addiction in nursing without the lead character being the main addict. There is no such thing as a boring ER show as long as it doesn’t portray the quiet shifts.

    I can’t tolerate most medical shows because of the invisibility of nurses, but this is no cure. Anyway, the search I did led me to your blog which looks very interesting and I shall be back to read more soon! So that’s one good thing that came out of it, that and the savings on Showtime.

    I do love me some Dexter though….even if it is about a serial killing blood analyst.

  • ChicagoAPN

    June 5, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    After reading all these hysterical comments, I’m almost embarrassed to be a nurse!

    I don’t buy the “we were crapped on in the past, so now we need nothing but wholesome images of us on TV” argument. Sure, a long time ago nurses may have had to stay in dormitories…etc. but TODAY the salary from my nursing job allows me to be a financially independent single woman. And last time I checked, no one is forbidding me to marry.

    Nursing has given me OPPORTUNITIES as a woman, not stifled me. That is why I CHOSE this profession. No one forced me to join it.

    And no one forced any of you to become nurses, either! Stop making the rest of us nurses look bad by whining about how “Stereotyped” you are when there are people who are gay or minorities (or, perhaps…recovering drug addicts?) who had no CHOICE over their situation and have REAL stereotypes to deal with that are way worse than a TV character that is naughtier than they are!!

    Its a fictional character, people! Get a life!

  • annabel

    June 7, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Nurse Jackie is a fictional TV show not a documentary. My question to all who take offense, what would be an acceptable? I read one post an RN writes “they already” treat us like servants.

    My opinion, When I became an RN, it was a career to serve and help people. I suppose the RN’s, on this blog think, complaining about work load or schedule, pushing more difficult patients on to part-time or float nurses, leaving work for the next shift to do because “they” never do anything on that shift, calling the supervisor every time the ER wants to admit a pt, how nurses work hard in trying to get out of work , how they never touch a patient because they are too busy gossiping, passing medication and endless paper work. This would be good TV? No thank you I watch to escape reality.

  • Gabe Santiesteban
    Gabe Santiesteban

    June 7, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I am a nurse, worked the ER. It Mimics the show House. First of all its a tv show not reality television. If we want a reality show based on nursing lets write the Discovery channel or TLC. I for one love the show for what it is and does, tells the emotional and stressful job of nursing and how unfortunately some even in our profession cope. People respect nursing and nurses they know reality from entertainment. Nurses are real people not saints thats what the show is trying to portray. Give it another chance you might actually find there is a little nurse Jackie in each of us.

  • KatieBeeRN

    June 8, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I watched the show over the weekend, it didn’t offend me as much as I thought, but it seemed pretty blah. Characters aren’t that interesting (even Falco’s) and the story was kind of predictable. Showtime shows are overrated in my opinion anyway.

  • nurselori09

    June 8, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Seriously, the show is meant for entertainment purposes only. Get off of your soap boxes! If you don’t like it don’t watch it. I’m a nurse, and although the scenes aren’t entirely accurate, the emotional frustrations and challenges that we face as nurses are real and comes through well in this character. SO, if your offended, turn it off, get over it and maybe just maybe worry about something a bit more important. And for those of you worried about the portrayal of nurses..what are you doing to improve our image except complain about a show on showtime? Are you active in professional organizations?

  • RN

    June 8, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    C’mon people — I can’t believe all this nonsense over a dang TV show. You should have been with me in Nam and seen how some of us spent our precious minutes out of OR for the sake of plain survival.

    The kids who came in needed crazy nurses but not insane ones.

    RN does not stand for “Bloody Saint” but for people who have to always be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

    I swear that the latest national pastime is the craft of being offended.

  • RNDeb

    June 8, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    The portrayal of Jackie as a drug abuser isn’t what gets me. Its true that this is an issue that affects nursing like it does any other profession. And no one can think that doctors and nurses don’t make mistakes.

    What bothers me is that I keep seeing enthusiastic posts and tweets about how nice it is to have a “realistic” medical show that finally shows “the truth” behind the scenes. (I assume this includes sex in the middle of the pharmacy, apparent abandonment of patients in favor of kicking off your shoes and taking a rest in the chapel, and habitual unnoticed stealing of narcotics) Really? Could the public possibly be that stupid?

    How depressing. Maybe it is “just a tv show” but I hope it fails pretty quickly. I don’t want to be seen as a saint, but I don’t want to be seen as a degenerate hidden in scrubs either…

  • L M Waller
    L M Waller

    June 8, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Nurse Jackie is a fictional comedy.
    It is a disgrace to the profession.
    Maybe drug addiction, pilfering, infedelity, the gay male nurse is a snapshot of decrased moral in society as a whole. But people please this was a chance to promote Nursing in a positve light. Showtime blew it. They could have educated the public on what a great profession nursing really is. We are Advance Practice Nures, Clinical Specialists,Educator and Researchers. How are we to promote our profession,if we dont take a stand against negative sterotypes.

  • Brother of Nurse
    Brother of Nurse

    June 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    If you expect Hollywood to give you a real, true story or even truth, don’t hold your breath. If you want people to know what nurses contribute write your memoirs or a series of novels and publish them.

  • Nancy Ruiz, RN
    Nancy Ruiz, RN

    June 9, 2009 at 9:52 am

    I watched the preview of Nurse Jackie on line and the first series on TV and I was very discouraged and angry of how this “Nurse Jackie” is representing the nursing profession. We see her as a drug addict, having sex on the job for drugs, and giving false information by signing a dead patient drivers license in agreement to organ donation. She even throws a patient ear in the toilet bowl. Is this disgusting or what? People who see this program will have no good thoughts and respect towards Nurses. We must demand respect for our profession that has been violated throughout the years as being “Sexual Pleasers” There may be some good parts in the movie, of her dedication to patients, but her misconduct is much more high lighted in this series. She does good actions and crucifies her actions with her unacceptable and low down conduct. Sadly our professional image, standards, morale, integrity and conduct are in jeopardy before the eyes of everyone. It is up to us Nurses to stop this disrespectful series.

  • John

    June 9, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I work both as an ICU and ER nurse and have to say I just can’t watch the medical dramas. Yes, like most anyone whose been around the hospital for some time, I too know of a few drug and sex stories…emphasis on the word “few”…VERY VERY few. Fact is, as all of you know, the physicians, nurses, RTs, etc., conduct themselves as intelligent professionals. We have to. There’s enough drama already from the patients and the family members to make a good drama without us having to add to it. But, yet again, television feels it necessary to lead the public to think that we’re a bunch of unscrupulous idiots turning our workplace into a behind the scenes porn set. Is the just-got-laid-off young wife spending her first anninersary at her newly diagnosed with AML husband’s bedside while he’s in ARDS and on PRISMA while at the same time her liver failure post full arrest father is just a few rooms down not a dramatic enough story line for TV? I guess the producers would rather keep making medical versions of animal house instead of the gut wrenching drama real life has to offer. Okay, enough of my soapbox. Just sad to hear that yet again our profession has been sold short.

  • entertainmentodayandbeyond

    June 9, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    After watching it last night I can see why it can be offensive to some, but after it was over my first reaction was this is real life. That is a real person with alot of flaws. I have NO doubt this show will gain a strong cult following and Falco is the perfect actress for that character. I will keep watching as I like shows with a realistic edge.


  • John

    June 9, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    …and “entertainmentodayandbeyond” therein lies the problem we have in regards to the medical dramas: (I’ll quote you here) “…my reaction was this is real life.” And this “real life” reaction is the reaction the public has too…with ALL the medical dramas. A VERY MISGUIDED view indeed well instilled into their beliefs (and spills over into their real life views of us and their real life interactions with us in the real life hospital) courtesy of the writers and producers of these many shows.

  • mswtophd

    June 9, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    here here! i am not a nurse but a social worker. i too get frustrated with the portrayal of nurses and social workers in the media. showtime could have taken this opportunity to show how hard nurses work. ugh!

  • Jessica Bond
    Jessica Bond

    June 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Kudos to you for standing for your values and the professional image of nursing. Unfortunately, drug abuse by healthcare professionals does happen – particularly in high stress units such as the ER.

    Showtime could have selected a different character to portray the drug issue. Besides hasn’t the main character with a drug addiction in a health care show already been done i.e. Dr. House? Showtime could have at least been a bit more innovative.

    Jessica Bond
    Medical Careerist

  • Reality Nurse
    Reality Nurse

    June 9, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Get real people. Let me give you some facts of life: 1) there really are some nurses addicted to drugs, 2)people do have sex and affairs at work, 3)there are nurses who steal everything from money (for themselves), to food off the patients trays to toilet paper from the supply closet.The only thing I saw that was a little unrealistic was: 1)forging organ donor cards, 2)having a break long enough to stretch out in the chapel and 3)flushing the ear down the toilet; but let us not forget that this is a TV SHOW! I don’t know what world you guys live in. Haven’t you ever FELT like doing meteing out your own brand of justice in a system that is sometimes unfair and uncompassionate? I haven’t heard any complaints about the protrayal of nurses on shows like Scrubs, Grey’s Anantomy,etc where it seems that all the nurses are looking for a husband or are silly nonthinking handmaidens. What is your problem? Nurse Jackie is like a breath of fresh air. Hooray for Nurse Jackie! She is my SUPERHERO!

  • John

    June 9, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Being real here: DUH, of course there are unscrupulous people who do (insert whatever you want here)… We’re not blind to the fact that it isn’t a perfect world and the stuff we see on TV has undoubtedly happened at some point at some hospital somewhere. These incidents are the EXTREME exception, not the rule. The behavior shown on these shows is inexcusable and when discovered results in swift action. I don’t know any co-workers who wouldn’t take official issue if they encountered in real life that which is portrayed on these shows. Please note the plural referance I have been using in referring to these shows throughout – not singling this show out – I’m including them all. Problem is that while it may provide some entertainment value, unfortunately it does mold an unflattering public perception. Though we’d like to think people would be smart enough to realize that it is just hollywood, a surprisingly large portion seem to have an inability drawing a line between entertainment and reality. YES – IT IS A TV SHOW. You know that, I know that. Unfortunately John-Q-Public does poorly with this distinction. It would be nice if just ONE show this side of the discovery channel could portray us (RN, MD, RT, PharmD, Nurses Aide, Discharge Planners, Phlebotomist, X-Ray tech, etc., etc.) as the professionals we are – yes, real people with real lives and all that comes with it – but still professionals instead of a bunch of blundering sex crazed substance abusing idiots.

  • Katherine

    June 11, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    It’s a TELEVISION SHOW people! It is not the responsbility of Showtime or Nurse Jackie to promote ANYTHING other than viewership. Don’t like it, don’t watch it. (I cheered when she dumped his ear into the toilet…and took his $$ for the pregnant girlfriend.)

  • Carrie

    June 14, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    O come on!! it is a TV show!!! what are all you Nurses worried about?? whoever thinks what happens in the show has any truth to it well , they’ve gotta be crazy.. I subscribed to showtime, just because of Nurse Jackie and so far so good! Just like the person above said YOU DON’T LIKE IT DON’T WATCH IT!!!
    Nurse/ Nursing Student

  • Amy D
    Amy D

    June 15, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    It is all wrapped into one. It is a TV show.
    John, they are not extreme behaviors, I have worked at more than one hospital and it all exists, the bigger the hospital the more of it there is.
    Even in the small hospital, these behaviors exist, if you haven’t seen them you are blind. Does it mean I except them, no!
    I did however find the show funny. Who wouldn’t want to flush the guy’s ear down the toilet? Good grief, you think we get it bad in TV shows, look at Lawyers. Are they all bad? They are repeatedly portrayed as sleazy.
    Get a grip. Besides hasn’t anyone ever heard of the word redemption.

  • B

    June 15, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Are you people for REAL??

    It is a TV show for pete’s sake.

    I’m a Massage Therapist… and if there was a show about an MT acting this way, I wouldn’t take it to heart. It’s entertainment, the Hollywood way. People don’t really believe this to be true and even if they did, so what.

    People will always need nurses and healthcare.

    PS. Can’t believe everything you see on tv. even news coverage can be spun any which way. Get a life, people.

  • Mike R.N.
    Mike R.N.

    June 16, 2009 at 5:24 am

    Yes, It’s just a Television show. The problem is that “all” shows potray nurses in the same way and nurses are sick of this scandalous betrayal. Of course these behaviors exist within our profession, but showtime decided a nurse with a drug problem wasn’t enough so let’s have her slip her wedding band off before walking through the doors of the hospital each day and bang the pharmacist on her breaks.
    There is so much about Nurse Jackie that is dead on ; the dark humor, tough as nails, bad back, and unrelnting patient advocate…. that I hate to say I won’t be watching it either, but I can’t without feeling I am aiding in perpetuating the common lies that smear our profession.
    It’s my experience that “civillians” do not know what we do. They realy don’t have a clue, so they tend to get their information from television and people tend to believe what they see on T.V. That’s why we are so upset.
    There is new show coming starring Jada Pinket Smith. One can only hope…………..

  • CH,pt

    June 16, 2009 at 6:41 am

    I am a PT working in Acute Rehab. I understand the concerns regarding this show, however I enjoyed it. My thoughts are: while no RN I know would whisper expletives into a severed ear and flush it or steal from the rich and give to the poor they may have thought about it. It’s like dealing with someone nasty and fantasizing that real-life were a cartoon and you could pause life and kick the person in the shin and stuck your tongue out (or middle finger) at them.
    I like the fact that the show portrays a hard-working nurse who cares about her patients. Her mistake towards the end of the pilot where she almost gave her patient the wrong IV, provokes thought: she wants to keep her job enough that she is crossing moral boundaries…is it worth the risk. Her adultery is the action of an addict looking to score…with a bit more class than a street dealer and an alley.
    I for one sincerelly hope that viewers pick up on one of the best parts about the show, it portrays a caring, underappreciated, exhausted nurse. Hopefully people watch this and appreciate the energy both physical AND emotional that nurses expend on a daily basis. Our unit would fall to pieces without the nurses, they are the essential glue that holds everything together.
    Of course this maybe why I am unwilling to dislike Jackie the nurse.

  • lily

    June 16, 2009 at 7:44 am

    It’s fiction, get over it. I don’t watch Top Gun thinking that’s really how pilots act. it’s a witty, thought provoking FICTIONAL edgy tv show.

  • Susan Le Blanc
    Susan Le Blanc

    June 16, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    OK, I just watched an episode and I’m appalled. It showed a very stressed out family member trying to get the staff’s attention regarding his inability to continue caring for his morbidly obese, bilateral amputee mother at home. So Jackie directs her burly orderly, “Thor”, to intimidate the man into retreating back to his mother’s room. Later, when the man takes further measures to get the staff’s assistance in this matter, and somehow injures himself in the process, THEN she offers to allow the man to spend the night in their fine establishment because he’s “lost a lot of blood”. What– has she never heard of a damned social service referral?? You don’t shut down stressed out family members like that– I don’t care how hard bitten you are. And the bit about her getting percocet from her lover in the pharmacy, as if HE doesn’t have to account for a controlled substance?? And the preview for the next episode shows him bemoaning being replaced by a Pyxis. A pyxis doesn’t replace a pharmacist. Oh, and I can’t leave out the part about Nurse Jackie screwing the pharmacist IN THE PHARMACY!!! Hell- might as well go all the way and just open up that chemo hood and get it on right there. This show is BEYOND ludicrous. And their treatment of the nursing student would lead any aspiring nurses out there to believe they’ll be treated like crap during their rotation. This show will not help the nursing shortage one iota.

  • Dr. Bob
    Dr. Bob

    June 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Well, as a retired male nurse, I loved parts of the show, and hated others. It is interesting entertainment LOOSELY based on life as an RN. VERY loosely. Where do I begin? The drug addiction part isn’t believable because you can’t crush up Percocets and function at that high a level without being noticed by your fellow nurses. (Nurses DO notice pupils of other nurses.) But, Edie Falco DOES show a lot of the crap that nurses have to go through, and does display much of the typical attitude of a seasoned old ER (or ICU) nurse. INDEPENDENT! I liked her handling of the hostile visitor who slaps her; I’ve been there and gone through that myself. (People don’t appreciate how many times nurses get punched or hit.) Some minor continuity errors: in episode 3, the doctor “borrows” the Littman Cardiologist stethoscope from the student nurse, and puts it in her ears in the wrong direction (earpieces should point forward, not backward). A minute later, the Cardiologist model has suddenly become a Littman Electronic stethoscope! Wow! A $160 stethoscope becomes a $280 stethoscope in seconds. Nice. Sure a heck of a lot nicer than the $5 stethoscope I used for my student nursing days. The sex in the Pharmacy is simply NOT credible, not even slightly. There are always others working in Pharmacy during the day. Also, you DON’T replace a Pharmacist with a Pyxis. A Pyxis has to be loaded by Pharmacy personnel every single day, so it only serves to greatly S-L-O-W down the nurse in doing their job. (Wish I could reclaim all the hours and hours I lost waiting for a damned Pyxis machine!) Overall, an interesting show, but I wish they’d left out the drug addiction and sex in the hospital parts. That smears 99% of the nursing profession. Still, I’ll be watching it every week for sure, if only because it reminds me of so many other things I went through. And I can’t imagine anyone other than Edie Falco to play this role. She is perfect! I just have to keep telling myself, “it’s only entertainment, only fiction….”

  • pamela marie
    pamela marie

    June 16, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    1. i have worked in the er for 25 years
    2. i have worked with addicted nurses.
    they are good nurses for about 2 weeks.
    then it gets kinda old when they crash at the desk or come to work all pale and sweaty
    3. i have worked with nurses screwing folks. usually lasts about a month .
    4. i have worked with nurses and usually know if they are married and have a family.
    usually find this out the second or third shift.
    5. what in the hell is this about? as my 17 year old daughter said to me..
    “mom, they don’t want to have a show about nurses giving popsicles to kids and talking about their kids, and then coming home and making dinner”
    6. enough said.

    hype hype

  • pamela marie
    pamela marie

    June 16, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    what is that red stuff she snorts?
    i guess i am supposed to know.. but i don’t.
    she gets the oxycontin or percoset or vicodin from her dude in RX.. but please tell me what the other stuff is.
    thank you.

  • Dr. Bob
    Dr. Bob

    June 17, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Pamela, I can’t think of a single narcotic that looks like little red spheres. It’s certainly not any Morphine variation. Not MS Contin, Percocet, Percodan, Roxicet, Dilaudid, T3 or T4, not Methadone, not Oxycontin, Vicodin, Lortab, Fioricet…. frankly, it looks more like Pop Rocks, but I don’t think those are perfectly spherical like that. My guess is that they are computer generated graphics, created in the mind of a computer artist who has no idea what drugs look like. He/she probably created them like that because they look nice against a white background, and their round, spherical shape looked neat. (Already I can tell this show doesn’t resemble reality, but is designed to entertain the non-medical person with implausible scenarios.)

  • JT

    June 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Yes, it’s a show about addiction, but, as a nurse, there are enough real stories to tell. This really must be written by a lame brain teen aged boy who has a nurse fettish. First off – IF we had enough time to have sex at work AND lunch with a doctor friend….well, let’s just say we wouldn’t be complaining about our hours and work load! Most nurses barely have time to go to the bathroom AND have a lunch break.

    SHowtime really missed the boat here. We are in the middle of healthcare reform that it is still unclear whether it will hurt or help nursing. I wouldn’t mind if it was story of a drug addicted nurse surrounded by regular nurses. Like cop shows where the bad cop is surrounded by hard working and honest cops……let’s try that for once.


  • Amy D
    Amy D

    June 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    what is that red stuff she snorts?
    i guess i am supposed to know.. but i don’t.
    she gets the oxycontin or percoset or vicodin from her dude in RX.. but please tell me what the other stuff is.
    thank you.”

    My guess is it is supposed to be the crushing of a time release pain medication. I am not around routine pain meds anymore, or most other drugs, we have anesthesia doing that part in my procedural area.
    So, the most reported crushed drug I am aware of is oxycontin. And I agree that the red is for photographic effect.

    We can’t base an entire series on a few shows. They always get stuff wrong. Go back and watch the old EMT show from the 70′s. I remember the rescue personnel laughing about how unrealistic it was, now I can see it, but I wasn’t medical then.
    As I said before, there is redemption to consider. She has hinted at it already. ‘please God make me good, but not yet.’

  • JT

    June 17, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    weird how my first blog links to a space I neither own nor had never heard of ’til here?

    Anyway, all I can say is that I will not watch the show. It is an extremely unfair portrayal. Why are male positions on TV….ie cops and doctors portrayed as busy and productive…overall honest…chasing bad guys and saving people… where as this nurse show portrays a drug addict who forges documents and is disrespectful to her peers. The student nurse is a mouse and Nurse jackie is definitely not treating her the way we treat or want student nurses treated….where’s this nurse’s instructor??? I could live with the flawed characters if it basically portrayed nursing in a more realistic light….if most of the nursing staff seemed to be honest, caring, hard working….and then you had this slacker addict…..that would be acceptable. This show is degrading to nurses and to women in general. I suggest a boycott. That is what I will be speaking to my nurse friends about…male and female. BTW….not all male nurses are gay. geez!

  • C. R., RN
    C. R., RN

    June 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I have not yet seen this show, but am very excited to watch it…especially after reading all of the negative comments! I am a nurse, I know nurses that are addicts, I know nurses that have sex with docs and fellow nurses. Doesn’t this kind of thing happen in every profession?! The drugs and sex just make the character more interesting. I really have a hard time believing that anyone who watches this thinks that this is what nursing is all about. I think we need to give people a little more credit! If I want to watch a reality show about the ER, I’ll watch Trauma, Life in the ER. I, like many people, enjoy mindless drama sometimes! It’s not reality people, but it sure is interesting!

  • C.M., RN
    C.M., RN

    June 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    I just finished watching the first three episodes…this show is absolutely amazing.

  • NancyNurse

    June 18, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    PLEASE!…………….most of you need a sense of humor!

    As a trauma nurse, brain tumor patient and IATSE member, I need all the laughs I can get. Thanks for providing them in your emergiblog!

    My first day at the studio I was told, “Remember, it’s entertainment, it’s not supposed to be real”.

    P.S. to Kim,
    You don’t need to subscribe to Showtime. It’s free on multiple internet sites.

  • bob md
    bob md

    June 22, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I think this is a brilliant show. You really want ANOTHER ER show just like all the rest? Finally a smart, well written show about a functioning addict, who also has a heart (at times). You guys are nuts to think this type of stuff doesn’t happen, what hospital do you work at? My favorite new show of the year!

  • ER all the way
    ER all the way

    June 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    I work in the ER and will continue to watch Nurse Jackie. Geez, get a sense of humor. Me thinks you protest too much.

  • Nurse Jackie, I presume « DUNCAN CROSS
    Nurse Jackie, I presume « DUNCAN CROSS

    June 24, 2009 at 5:38 am

    [...] is the wrong person to front for health care reform. I know from my nurse-blogs that the show is deeply offensive to actual nurses, and that’s a problem even if Edie Falco herself isn’t writing it. Imagine if Kiefer [...]

  • Yaya

    June 27, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    People who don’t even watch this show are being critical??? I don’t believe all priests are child molestors why would I think all nurses are drug addicts? Anyone can use drugs. It’s just TV so don’t watch it if you don’t like it. Most adults know what fiction is.

  • Nurse Jackie
    Nurse Jackie

    June 28, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    OMG I watched the first 3 episodes of Nurse Jackie and I LOVE IT!! I love the portrayal of nursing and her hard ass approach (esp when she told the doc stay outta my way when I tell u to order a CT order a CT!!), the drug addiction and extra-marital affair are more a reflection of her character and less a reflection of nursing..IMO. So sick of the whole nursing is a noble and honorable and warm and fuzzy profession with “special” people thats exactly why we dont get proper recognition and renumeration for skills and knowledge. I dont think I have even seen a nurse check pupil reflexes on any other show…always the good ol, do-it-all doctor. I for one will be watching. You all have HawthoRNe to critique next…stay tuned.

  • Jane Dont
    Jane Dont

    June 30, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    The show isn’t about nursing. It’s about a character. Are all suburban single mothers pot dealers? No, that show is about a character, not drug dealing or parenting.

    If we wanted to watch shows about nursing, I believe there’s Discovery Health for that. Or, you could make your *own* show that meets your nursing standards.

    No fictional TV show will accurately represent reality. If it’s a good show, it shows us characters we care about and their profession is secondary.

    And I don’t believe for a second that all nurses are perfect and don’t make mistakes and some may not even do a good job.

    We’re all flawed – that’s the beauty of complex characters. They do the best they can but they’re not one-dimensional simps like most characters on network TV.

    If you can get past the high horseyness you might actually see something worthwhile in the story about this woman.

  • R. Peterson
    R. Peterson

    July 2, 2009 at 8:32 am

    The show, after watching it, is very well done. The portrayal of a sex object was assumed that this is what she was going to be, but in all reality we see a love triangle, and if anyone has worked as long as I have in the healthcare field, this is definitely going on. In fact 2 doctors have recently moved away to other practices out of state because of their involvement with nurses in the area, and they were married. As far as the drug abuse goes, on first glimpse we could say she is an addict, yet she isn’t faltering at her job, she isn’t even showing signs of an addict, she is medicating herself. How often does this happen in the healthcare field? I see it a lot, as a stint as a visiting nurse, I was horrified at the things I saw. So is everyone mad because Showtime took a character that actually lives in the real world and has portrayed her on screen? Or is it because of the potential bad name that it can give nurses? If anything it may bring people to understand and be compassionate towards nurse Jackie even with all her faults, and realize that everyone has their faults, but through the BS ultimately trying to be a good person and doing good things is what counts. Come on guys, it’s Showtime, it’s gonna be in-your-face, it will proabbaly involve drugs, and it will offend a lot of people.

  • Amy D
    Amy D

    July 5, 2009 at 10:26 am

    R.Peterson, I agree, I have said the same, but, there seems to be a lot of nurses that are blind to what goes on in their hospitals.
    Excluding the alcoholics, the other addicts are harder to pick out. It is learned survival behavior. In any case, I think that redemption is possible and it has been foreshadowed in the first episode. “Let me be good, but not yet.”

  • pamela marie
    pamela marie

    July 5, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    i guess you can work at a supermarket as an addict; but please ..
    you cannot be making multi-level,critical, high-functioning decisions for 8 hours “medicating yourself”.
    trust me.. the nurses and docs who live that life last a few weeks at best.
    i can’t make any more comments on the show since i haven’t watched anymore episodes.
    someone at work told me the redcapsules must be some speed.

  • Nurse Jackie
    Nurse Jackie

    July 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Wow~ I am sort of shocked at the moral indignation that so many of you in the medical field seem to have about this show. Those of you who believe that high-functioning drug addicts aren’t EVERYWHERE are exceptionally naive. They exist in every professional setting one can imagine. And those of you who believe that this show has the power to cause exemplary nurses to suddenly spiral into drug abuse are even dumber!

    It truly gets under my skin that many of you are talking about bombarding Showtime with letters and threats to get them to cancel the series. You don’t have to watch it! What gives you the right to censor a television program because you don’t like how your profession is depicted? Practically every television show on the planet depicts questionable moral behavior on some level, and sorry, but yours is not the only profession that involves saving lives and helping people. I don’t want to think that the man who’s piloting my plane is screwing a stewardess in the cockpit. I don’t want to believe that my priest is having inappropriate relationships with children. I’d rather not think that people serving on my local police force are corrupt dirtbags. However, we see all these images and then some on television every night.

    Some of you Florence Nightingales sincerely need to put your messiah complexes in check. Most of us in the work force are downtrodden, underpaid, misunderstood, underappreciated, stressed out, etc. There’s really no need to take all your years of pent-up aggression out on a silly TV show.

  • Caro P.
    Caro P.

    July 6, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    1. It is a tv show.
    2. It is not meant to portray reality.
    3. I watch ER, House, Grey’s Anatomy, Jackie. I love these shows and their stories. Stories. When I go to the hospital I am never looking to be seen by a George Clooney, dark but sweet, nor am I looking (or wanting) to be seen by a hositle, people hating great doctor, I’m not looking to be taken care of by a bunch of self-centered drs who are too interested in having sex to worry about me. And lastly, I don’t look at the nurses and wonder, who is doing drugs? Who is screwing the pharmacist?

    Do you know why?? Because I realize that these shows are merely shows for entertainment. I have all the respect in the world for nurses. My mom is one and she is wonderful. I do enjoy entertainment. I am a paralegal. If they make up a show about paralegals who are stupid, get treated like crap by lawyers, who hide billing papers in their desk and not doing billing for years, I will laugh my behind off! (although a big part of that all is true). I will not be offended because I’m better than that portrayal.
    Don’t worry about people feeling bad things about you nurses. You are the best and you know it and that is what really matters.

  • Caro P.
    Caro P.

    July 6, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    I forgot one more thing. Someone wrote that children don’t need to see this program and how nurses are portrayed. Uh, hello…it is on cable and after 9:00pm. Are you letting your children watch these kinds of programs? You should be monitoring their tv time better…

  • pamela marie
    pamela marie

    July 6, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    “high functioning drug addicts EVERYWHERE”
    uh, in your media saturated little mind,honey.
    of course there are drug addicts functioning in jobs;however,
    the oxycontin,fentanyl patch,methadone type can’t survive very long
    in a professional setting. outside of the music scene or hollywood.
    and i wouldn’t call my critique “moral indignation”;
    i would call it a reality check for those of you out in the world who may think she even could come close to a real person.

  • Melanie Greene
    Melanie Greene

    July 6, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Why can you all get over yourselves!!! Anyone that has common sense can see that this show is a pure work of FICTION!!!! I do believe that some of you nurses do suffer from some moral indignation. There are not going to be any children watching this show thinking I never want to be a nurse because children should not be up at that hour watching cable anyway. If nurses want a realistic protrayal of themselves on television why don’t they try out for a show on the Discovery channel where they can properly document nurses on the job. Until then if you do not like the show DO NOT WATCH IT! But don’t try to censor the show by getting it pulled off the air away from people that actually watch it for it’s entertainment value and not for it’s protrayal of nurses. Get over yourselves.

  • Nurse Jackie
    Nurse Jackie

    July 7, 2009 at 12:22 am

    @Pamela Marie,

    I work with chemically dependent patients every day, so it’s fallacious thinking to presume that my commentary on high-functioning drug addicts comes from the television.

    Even if drug addicts in professional settings was a purely fictitious concept (which it’s definitely not), the show does not purport to be a documentary.

    I think you and your like-minded compadres are the ones with “little minds, honey”. Case in point~many of you decided to engage in this ridiculous boycott after merely watching the TRAILER. Some of you state that you don’t even have televisions, and yet you’re trying to weigh in on the merits of a show you’ve never seen? I’ll bet Showtime is really going to feel the pain when those of you who don’t even have TVs band together to boycott their programming. WTF?

  • Mark

    July 7, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I noticed New York Times blog “Why Nurse Stereotypes Are Bad for Health” at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/nurses-helpers-angels-or-something-more/

    Via “Nurses as helpers, white cap wearers……….I think not!” at http://reconnect.typepad.com/reconnect/2009/07/nurses-as-helpers-white-cap-wearersi-think-not-.html

  • Paula Davies Scimeca, RN, MS
    Paula Davies Scimeca, RN, MS

    July 7, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    It has already been noted that anyone, even youngsters, can view episodes over the internet. In working exclusively with chemically dependent nurses since 2003, which comes on the heels of a quarter century of other nursing roles, my concern is not image – it is lives and careers. I have polled several young adults and college kids who felt the show depicted the drug-use as “acceptable”, “to be expected” and “harmless.” This is the catchment from which we are drawing new nurses. We already have thousands of nurses each year who are surrendering licenses to practice as a direct result of prescription painkiller use. I am glad most of you are clueless to the devastation and have not been impacted,yet. But if you want to be informed, all of Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis’ books were spawned after the death of her son, a nurse, at age 31. Check out excerpts from “Unbecoming A Nurse” before you decree the concerns of some are just about image rather than lives.Paula Davies Scimeca, RN, MS

  • Nurse Jackie
    Nurse Jackie

    July 7, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Since this show has only been on several times, it’s a prejudgment to state that it depicts drug use as harmless. Who knows what path the writers will take in terms of how Jackie’s drug abuse will affect her?

    If the pool of young people and could-be nurses that you’re polling actually sees drug use as “acceptable” and “harmless”, these must be some pretty stupid kids you’re interviewing. I learned in kindergarten that drugs were bad, but for a complex myriad of reasons, addiction continues to plague our society.

    I realize that nurses may be particularly vulnerable from the standpoint of access to medications, but I grew up in project housing that was literally crawling with drug dealers. At the end of the day, I still had the ultimate choice in the matter.

    If your concern is genuine, then rally for the cause of dependency issues becoming a more prominent feature of the curriculum in nursing schools, hospitals, universities, etc. A noble cause indeed. However, bombarding Showtime with letters about Nurse Jackie is essentially a waste of energy. People aren’t taking these criticisms seriously because you’re giving a television show WAY too much power.

    I certainly would hope that anyone involved in my care and well-being has the good sense to at least separate fact from fiction. Many of you are complaining that nurses are disrespected and undermined, and yet you’re not giving those in the nursing field credit for having any ability to discern right from wrong or make ethical decisions that aren’t swayed by what they see on televison.

  • [...] Reality Rounds has to say… She makes some great points and so do those who comment. Check out Emergiblog as [...]

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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