On December 10, the GW School of Nursing’s Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement, Sigma Theta Tau International (the nursing honor society), and the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Nursing co-hosted their second annual Media Summit for Nursing Organizations.
This year’s virtual Media Summit convened leaders from 20 nursing organizations seeking to improve the representation of nurses in the media and enhance their media engagement skills. The participants discussed challenges and successes they have had implementing lessons from last year’s Summit. GW Nursing Dean Pamela Jeffries gave the Summit’s opening remarks in which she emphasized the importance of this work being done to improve nurses’ representation and voices in the media and the school’s commitment to furthering this work.
Other topics of the lively discussion included the best ways to redirect media requests or interviews that are attempting to portray nurses in a stereotypical way. Participants suggested that when nurses are interviewed about COVID-19, they are often portrayed as heroes, victims, or strictly bedside caregivers. Rarely does the media show nurses as well-rounded leaders in healthcare, research, and policy.
At this year’s Summit, the panel consisted of two journalists: Sheree Crute, director of communications at the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation, and Courtney Stewart, vice president of strategic communications at Missouri Foundation for Health. These esteemed journalists engaged in discussions with nursing leaders about how to navigate the current polarized media environment.
Ms. Crute advised the organizations that “sitting comfortably in the center is almost not possible,” so consider what you are willing to say and what you are willing to be known for. As she stated, “Nurses have important stories. Finding people who can tell it factually, effectually, and efficiently is the challenge.” To have the greatest impact, Ms. Stewart advised organizations to hone in on their specific audiences based on their niche or comparative advantage. Responding to the many participants who expressed wanting to see the media’s narrative around nurses change, she said that it is partially up to nurses and nursing organizations to pivot the narrative, share unlikely stories, and open doors with journalists that will allow for the bigger healthcare and health policy conversations that nurses want to have.
The GW Nursing Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement looks forward to continuing these conversations and partnerships in 2021.