What do you think of “Nurse Jackie”?

“Nurse Jackie” – more media mistreatment of nurses?

Nurses who have viewed the first episode of the Showtime series “Nurse Jackie” have criticized its portrayal of an ED nurse who is a substance abuser and violates ethical principles. According to the cable network, it has also received “resoundingly positive” feedback from nurses.

  • What do you think about Nurse Jackie?
  • How are nurses generally depicted in the media?
  • Do fictional programs influence public opinion about nurses?

32 Responses to “What do you think of “Nurse Jackie”?”

  1. Joanne W Says:

    I’m not a nurse, but I know a lot of nurses. I saw Nurse Jackie last night and it seemed to me that she was more of a caricature than a real person. This is not an improvement in the image of nursing.

  2. Elizabeth Iniego Says:

    As a new grad, I was upset after watching the show. In school we are taught to uphold the standards of care, be proud of our profession. How can that happen when the media portrays nurses in this way. Granted, it is a show, and it is supposed to focus on her life, but as soon as she puts on her scrubs, and is in the hospital, she is seen as a nurse who is bound by ethics and oath to provide care. I know it’s a show, but there are those people out there who will not be able to differentiate fact from fiction. I don’t think I will watch another episode of Nurse Jackie, it makes me sad and upset.

    • blake Says:

      Please shut up, you sound so vein ‘like I’m a new grad & i am upset’. Its tv, you know entertainment. I bet you sit back & watch shows that stereotype people all the time but because its a nurse & you went to school to be a nurse your so appalled. So I guess cops should be upset that dexter goes out & kills people, you know how americans can’t tell tv from reality. Instead of trying to hold yourself in such high regards sit back & just enjoy a good tv show & stop preaching to the quire.

  3. Nancy Ruiz, RN Says:

    I watched the preview of Nurse Jackie on line and I was very discouraged and angry of how this “Nurse Jackie” is representing the nursing profession. You see her as a drug addict, having sex on the job, and giving false information by signing a dead patient drivers license in agreement to organ donation. 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 and drug Psychos” Ok there is some good parts in the movie, of her dedication to patients, but her conduct is much more high lighted in this series. She does good actions and crucifies her actions with her unacceptable conduct. I invite the ANA to assess this series. Sadly our professional standards, morale, integrity and conduct are in jeopardy.

  4. Lisa Says:

    I’m not a nurse, but I’ve had to deal with a lot of them in the past two years during my mother’s illness, eventual placement in a skilled-nursing facility, and death. Based on my experience, your association has much more important things about which to worry than a fictional television show. A primary concern should be the level of care provided by nurses in skilled-nursing facilities. I think nurses’ objections to the show makes them appear unintelligent. Do you really think that the general public doesn’t realize that this is a fictional show about a specific character who happens to be a nurse, not a documentary about nurses? That’s insulting to the general public and makes me think that nurses aren’t too bright. There are negative portrayals of every profession…get over yourselves please. If you’re so concerned about the image of nurses, I suggest you get yourselves into some nursing homes and start with the behavior/skills found there.

    • NY R.N. Says:

      Lisa do you really think we as nurses do not realize that tv show is not a documentary about nurses? Several nurses have said it before – of course everyone knows it’s just a tv show.
      In your response,you mentioned that this is about a specific character who happens to be a nurse. Well,no. That she is a nurse is the primary story line.
      It is not an aside. It is the entire basis for the story line,the entire basis for it.

      If you feel any given skilled nursing facility needs to be improved,maybe you write to the administrators. It is likely a shortage in staffing,and maybe you are the voice they need to hear.
      Giving 10 a.m. medications,or tube feedings for 38 ill and,or disabled patients – with the 2 pm’s right at your heels – is a tough thing.
      I’ve seen it – at a place with a good reputation even – and I don’t know how those nurses were able to do it everyday.
      Of course my heart goes out to you,and anyone who has experienced the pain of illness and death of a loved one. I know what that’s like.

      I cannot help but notice tho’,that as a non-nurse,you are responding in defense of the show,with insults to nurses.

  5. Andrea Aughenbaugh Says:

    I think all should read Sandy Summers review of Nurse Jackie. It is well reasoned and she has been reviewing media portrayals of nursing for years. You will find it on truthaboutnursing.org Andrea Aughenbaugh

  6. Andrea Aughenbaugh Says:

    FYI I did not write “Your comment is awaiting moderation. ” I never say awaiting. Andrea

  7. jm Says:

    Isn’t there something a little absolutist in wanting only an idealized portrayal of a nurse? Do we really believe the public won’t understand that this is drama, not a class in best practices for nurses? For a more open-minded and nuanced view of “Nurse Jackie,” go to the American Journal of Nursing (AJN) blog, Off the Charts: http://bit.ly/Jcsk9


  8. Roberta Says:

    After watching the premiere episode of Nurse Jackie I was open-mouthed and absolutely appalled to think that this “realistic portrayal” of an amoral, drug-addicted thief was being broadcast to millions of people!!! I have been a practicing RN in New York City for many years, and only recently have nurses finally achieved the status of respected, educated professionals in the media for which we have battled over the years. Nurse Jackie is a resounding slap in the face to nurses all over the country!! I will be cancelling my subscription to Showtime immediately, and I suggest a massive response from other nurses to send letters, emails, etc. to Showtime until this “realistic portrayal” is no longer visible. SHAME ON EDIE FALCO, who recently battled cancer, for taking part in this insult to the nursing profession!

  9. NY ER nurse Says:

    We all know that “Jackie” is a fictional character but it’s unfortunate that the greedy executives of these networks (who by the way I hope one day encounter a nurse just like Jackie right after she pops a few Percocet) continue to create shows that portray disfunctional nurses. I’m sure someone will point out the few shows that include the ideal nurse, but it’s the disfunctional ones that make an impact on the viewers, just like other shows that demean other professions. It amazed me to see how many nurses enjoyed this show on Facebook’s Advance for Nurses page. It makes me wonder if in reality they are no better than “Jackie” in some ways and don’t belong in the profession. I don’t subscribe to Showtime and never will. I watched the edited version online. Unfortunately it’s all about the money to people like Stuart Zakim and Edie Falco…greedy greedy, greedy at anyone’s expense. But let’s not forget what’s happening to all the greedy people lately….so one day we may just see these two and whoever else is involved in this show sitting on the step of an old church down town begging for a nurse to treat their scabies.

  10. NY R.N. Says:

    You said it NY ER nurse!
    And you know? Regarding ‘nurses’ online saying they like the show……I don’t know if this is true but I read that Showtime has people posting as nurses that they like the show and that’s it “spot on” and such.
    Of course it’s the internet and that can happen,- no doubt probably goes on all the time about different things- but it’s just something to keep in mind. And it’s a total shame on them if that’s being done.
    I’ve never subscribed to that channel and watched it online too.
    And sure we all know this is ‘just a show’! We’ve seen nurses portrayed in all sorts of ways on television for years and years.
    But this show,about a registered nurse, really does take things to a disgusting level. It’s simply disgusting.
    The feeling it gave me really is one of being hurt and sad.
    In my opinion,Edie Falco is a disgrace. And yes,I do connect Edie Falco with the character. Can’t help it. I don’t think I could ever like or have respect for her.
    And there lies the reality of why we have to speak out against this show.
    People *do* make connections,associations,with what they see on TV. We all do. This is why it’s so important for us to speak out about how wrong this show is. People are watching a nurse. A nurse!
    : (
    Very sad. That’s how I feel about it. Not even mad really. Sad and hurt.
    I’ve been a nurse in NYC for 29 years.
    NYSNA,thank you for giving us a way to express ourselves here. I appreciate that so much.
    ~ M.L.

  11. Patrick Orlando RN, BSN Says:

    I watched this show hoping for something different. Different yes, a fictional character behaving more like a criminal than a nurse. Every aspect of her behavior is horrible. At work she is impaired, trading sex for drugs with a corrupt pharmacist, stealing, lying and worse of all, cheating on her husband. This fictional nurse would never pass muster in any real nurse’s book. I am so dissapointed in Showtime.

  12. kathleen cully Says:

    this is an absolute disgrace to the profession.

    The AMA would never have a MD protrayed in this image!!!!!!!\

    The AMA has a movie/TV committee to oversee the image of
    the medical profession

  13. Janice Viola Says:

    I did not watch the show, because the commercial advertising it wshowed what a horrible portrayal of nurses and nusring it was bound to be. I think we should boycott any channel that allows shows like this, and any products associated with shows that portray nurses in such a poor light. It will only serve to further the nursing shortage.It is a disgrace to nurses everywhere.Why would intelligent people enter a profession that commands so little respect.? Boycott it!

  14. Lois Youdelman Says:

    While I agree that the show puts nurses in a bad light, I also realize that it is a “show”. Anyone that has come into contact with a nurse knows that this is far from the normal behavior. I also believe that it was a poor portrayal of physicians. No doctor would ever take that kind of disrespect from a nurse. I watched because I was curious but I won’t watch it any more simply because the show stunk. Showtime has made a big mistake with this one…..BIG!

    • Jewel Cooper Says:

      please check out my recent responses….I have written to 4 nursing journals, had letters published in my local paper and just last week wrote 2 comments to the nysna web site. I kind of hate computers so one of the responses I wrote went to another site. I want this character dead and off the air. thanks. jewel

  15. Sarahjeanne Goldstein, RN, MS, NP Says:

    A nurse portrayed as an addict, an adulterer and nearly killing her patient while high what a surprise it’s Hollywood. Disappointing that Edie Falco is the main character with such immoral, criminal behavior. I hope that future shows tend to focus on the more relevant aspects of nursing and leave the criminal behavior to the patients that we in nursing must deal with while we maintain our professiona behavior.

    I am sad that the first two show failed to show nursing in an honorable light.

  16. Martin Goodman Says:

    As a physician, both during training and in practice, I had (consenting) sex with MD and RN colleagues in the on call room and similar venues… and I can’t really see such behavior as any more compromising of patient care than masturbating while in an on call room), and in my youth enjoyed greatly at times… in my spare time… experimenting with rather a wide variety of both legal and illegal mind and mood-altering substances. I state this to make clear my point of view is not that of a prude.

    It’s important to distinguish between bureaucatic form and actual substance when it comes to competent medical care.

    The fictional Nurse Jackie is an insult to medical care in general, and nursing in particular, violating one after another basic principle of providing quality and responsible medical care.

    My good friend for over 35 years, a RN, Karen G. put things well with these comments:

    “I saw the first episode of “Nurse Jackie.” Yes, funny, amusing, very well acted. Edie Falco who played Carmela Soprano is very good. But at the same time it is very scary the image they are portraying of nurses.
    In the first episode Nurse Jackie is portrayed as a drug abuser who provides sexual favors to a pharmacist for drugs for her back pain, allows a resident to kill an injured bike messenger patient (not going to the attending when he refuses to do a head MRI that would have diagnosed the subdural hematoma), forges signature to a donor card, flushes a patient’s ear down the toilet after whispering “f*** you” several times into it, then steals money from that same patient to put in the purse of the pregnant girlfriend of the bike messenger who died.
    Finally, a youth who is high and had had sex with a Roman candle that went off, the student nurse is allowed to take a picture with her camera phone (yes, she asks his permission, but he is very high on drugs when he gives it!), and his curtains are never drawn allowing passers by in the hall to gap and give amusingly horrified expressions of the injury.
    The NY State Nursing Association has asked for a disclaimer in the credits that it does not represent nurses. This has been to no avail.”

    While I found positive Nurse Jackie’s expressions of sexual freedom and experimentation, to the extent they presented a challenge to the sick institution of the monogamous family, her iconoclasm was presented in the ugly and reprehensible context of her being grossly deceitful BOTH to her husband AND her other lover.

    This is an appalling image of nursing, served up with the lie of it being “gritty reality” and “thoughtful and challenging and artistic presentation of a real world, flawed character.”

    It is my hope this third-rate garbage derivative of the second rate (tho very occasionally interesting) show House dies a swift death.

    M.G. MD

  17. Ezekiel Says:

    I’m going to start off by saying that I hope that most of the people who watch this show look at it in the same manner that I do. It’s nothing more than entertainment.

    I’d be lying if I said that I’d never encountered a nurse who was rude, brash, or overall unhelpful. But at the same time, I can assure you that I’ve run into nurses who were incredibly empathetic, went out of their way to make a connection with their patient, and all together make hospital stays safer and enjoyable. I, myself, have had nurses whose word I felt was more trustworthy than my doctor.

    I don’t take my experience with one nurse and then decide that “all nurses are like that”. The matter of the fact is that no matter what profession you’re in, you’re going to find a multitude of personalities. And people in general are not one-dimensional. I’m sure there are nurses who aren’t very personable, but at the same time are willing to do everything possible to ensure the best patient care possible.

    So this is how I view Jackie: 1. An immoral, unscrupulous nurse. 2. A caring, protective nurse, and 3. A fictional nurse — one who represents herself and not all of the nurses in the US (or New York for that matter).

    In the end, if we’re lucky, the general public is smart enough to see it this way and not use television or pop culture as a way to determine how an entire group of people act. If we’re not lucky, then I apologize on the behalf of all television lovers for their overwhelming ignorance and baseless prejudice.

  18. NNY nurse Says:

    “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch”.The fact of the matter is that there are nurses out there who are as corrupt as the day is long-that doesn’t mean all nurses are the same-we are all human beings-be nicer than necessary-everyone is fighting some kind of battle-god bless.

  19. April RN Says:

    I think it is highly insulting, but i know there are many impaired nurses out there, I got made painfully aware of that my first job after school, i was very sad and dissapointed.

  20. Stacy RN Says:

    It’s not real. Hello! Did you comment on House or Mash…etc.? This is just another twisted show. Who knows could be based on a true story 🙂

  21. Jewel Cooper Says:

    i hello…I wrote a long response, but it went into another site…I am a recovering drug addicted alcoholic nurse who has been clean and sober 25 years as of Sept 5 2009. I want Nurse Jackie ‘s character dead…and off the air. I have called Showtime to make suggestions as to how the show could be terminated. 1. Either have her found over-dosed either at home or in the hospital or 2. Have her escorted out of the hospital in handcuffs. Both of these scenarios I personally witnessed over the past 27 years. Believe me I did not intend to end up alcoholic and drug addicted. I am extremely intelligent…which, by the way, can be a hindrance to people who seek recovery. I am active in 12 step recovery… I am 60 years old….and have been working in hospitals since I was 14. I have worked at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point NJ for the past 23 years….11 years in Detox and the past 12 in the Operating Room. I am NOT anonymous. (I do respect the anonymity of those who wish to remain so) Everyone I work with is attuned to addiction and recovery. Nurse Jackie is marketed as a comedy. There was no laughter at the funerals I’ve attended….of the physicians and nurses who died as a result of substance abuse. Jewel Cooper, RN,BSN, CNOR ….previous certifications in chemical dependency and critical care

  22. Jen Says:

    How come no one ever had a problem when House gave out candy instead of a prescription, or performed unnecessary (and painful) procedures b/c he found certain people irritating?
    How many movies have there been about therapists and doctors AND nurses who are ignoring their professions code of ethics?
    You all either don’t get it, or you assume today’s population to be complete morons.
    It’s a TV show. Fiction. Not based on real individuals.
    The next time a TV shows a father who is raping his daughter are you going to start a campaign to shut down the show b/c people will assume that ALL fathers are like that?

  23. GAguila RPN, BScN. stud. Says:

    I am BScN. student and I am so sad and angry how the media destroys the image of the nursing profession. If the nursing profession were how they portray it in “Nurse Jackie”. I would not spend nights without sleep studying ethics, leadership, pathotherapeutics and the pathpsyciology of acute and cronic illness, also other important subjects that enhence nurses knowledge and skill. I strongly believe that this nagative images impact other young students from entering the profession. I also think that we as nurses should demand to be respected becuase this SHOW is an insult.

  24. Adam West Says:

    This… is what television is about. Incidentally this is also why I threw out that device from hades out my house years ago and smashed it so it couldn’t be repaired, and why none will exist in any place I call home.

    Hollywood, etc. are places for base and immoral people who create base and criminally immoral material in the name of art, then publish it to the masses who for the most part are also base and immoral and neither understand nor care what is actually happening to them when they behold these base things, so they cry “it’s just a show!” or “Get over yourself!” to the people who are not as blind as they and are trying to warn them against such dangers… not understanding the irony or stupidity of such statements.

    Neither do they understand anything about the institutions which these people constantly undermine daily, so they cry “this is the real world and sh#$ happens so deal with it!”

    Then everybody wonders why crime, heartbreak, world-hunger, evil politics, corrupt churches, etc. cannot stop?!

  25. Jennifer Says:

    haha. You think those things continue b/c of television?

    Our world is corrupt because all of us continue to live self-centred lives instead of living for others.
    Those in Hollywood are no more immoral than the rest of the world. They just live it out on a stage while everyone else commits their sin behind closed doors.

    Yes, some people are indeterminably affected by what they watch on television. You were probably right to throw out your television, as it seems you are easily influenced by the latest theory.
    Others, though, have the presence of mind to separate fiction from reality.

  26. peter clarke Says:

    junk as stated mds would never allow themselves depicted in this manner

  27. ANNETTE Says:


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