Does Grey's Portray Nurses Unfairly?

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The New Zealand representative of an international nursing group is taking Grey's Anatomy to task over its portrayal of nurses.

Anita Bamford, Senior Lecturer at Auckland University of Technology, and a member of the U.S.-based Center for Nursing Advocacy, says that the show portrays nurses in a way that is damaging to the profession.

"Nurses in this series are nothing more than a pathetic foil to the god-like doctor heroes," she said. "They are typically presented as marginally-skilled physician subordinates, usually faceless and mute -- like wallpaper."

The series, which is up for 11 Emmy awards this year, including best drama, has been criticized by some for its inaccurate presentation of medical situations. In New Zealand, the Season 2 finale aired last night.

The nursing group is urging the producers of Grey's Anatomy to incorporate nurses as skilled professionals who play a central role in patient care.

"The show presents an inaccurate and damaging portrayal of nursing. You frequently see surgical interns performing key tasks normally done by nurses - like patient monitoring and psycho-social support. Mostly, the nursing characters are restricted to menial tasks," Bamford said.

The non-profit organization, which monitors the depiction of nursing in the news and entertainment, says research shows that Grey's Anatomy has a real effect on the public's healthcare views and actions. It is making similar cases against popular shows ER and House.

The Insider feels this criticism of Grey's Anatomy is overblown. Have these people seen the episode "Break on Through," in which George refuses to cross the picket line and helps the nurses campaign for better hours and wages? Of course, George also got syphilis from a nurse, Olivia (below), but that was all Alex's fault in the end. We're not sure what the problem is!

George & Olivia

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


It does matter, because the public views these shows and nurses deal with the public. Nurses have a very specific scope of practice and that should be respected.


If you don't like the way the show portrays characters then don't watch. Simple as that. It is television. If everything in television and cinema were portrayed as real it would be boring. It is entertainment people...get over it.


My gal pal has been a nurse for twenty years and she loves greysanatomy. What I have learned from her, nurses are quirky! Smart, quirky and awesome! She says the show is right on, it tells it exactly like it is. Must be why its such a huge succes!


Ugh. Stupid my country..I'm a New Zealander and I think they portay nurses fine! I think the stupid nurses whatever campaign thingy in my country is just annoyed that shows like Grey's, House and whatever else there is, doesn't show the nurses as much as our New Zealand medical soap 'Shortland Street'. Shortland Street is central around the lives of the doctors AND nurses of the Shortland Street hospital, but recently it's REALLY gone down hill and it focusing more on the outside the hospital drama, which is why I like Grey's so much - it's medical, mixed with social. Shorty hardly has any medical anymore. -kicks country- Stupid my country..


The reason they portray nurses so unfairly is because they're trying to show how unfairly REAL doctors treat nurses.


I lived with a Dr. in training and I think the view the Grey's Anatomy Drs. take of the nurses is spot on. Let's remember when Christina pissed off one of the nurses and what the ramifications were. I believe Christina received some very valuable advice from more than one person about how to treat the nurses!


Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

Burke was- He took something from me. He took little pieces of me, little pieces over time, so small I didn't even notice, you know? He wanted me to be something I wasn't, and I made myself into what he wanted. One day I was me Cristina Yang, and then suddenly I was lying for him, and jeopardizing my career, and agreeing to be married and wearing a ring, and being a bride. Until I was standing there in a wedding dress with no eyebrows, and I wasn't Cristina Yang anymore. And even then, I would've married him. I would have. I lost myself for a long time. And now that I'm finally me again, I can't. I love you. I love you more than I loved Burke. I love you. And that scares the crap out of me because when you asked me to ignore Teddy's page, you took a piece of me, and I let you. And that will never happen again.