Interacting with the media

Interacting with the media

FROM OUR COLUHN]ISTS The Nurse Executive Interacting With the Media i::i O N APRIL 1, 1987, President Ronald Reagan came to Philadelphia to address th...

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FROM OUR COLUHN]ISTS The Nurse Executive Interacting With the Media i::i O N APRIL 1, 1987, President Ronald Reagan came to Philadelphia to address the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. I was & • privilegedto be part of a forum that iliiiii~ii::::iiiiiiiii::iiii::::iii::iiiii:#:~iii~iiiii~iii~i~iiiiii:~ addressed health care issues of the present and future with a specific look at how we might prepare for the 21st century. The forum program consisted of a panel of fellows of the college and was moderated by Lewis Bluemle, MD, President of Thomas Jefferson University. Each panel member addressed different but consonant issues. Panel members were: Paul Brucker, MD, Chairman, Department of Family Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University; Maurice Clifford, MD, Commissioner of Health, City of Philadelphia; William Kissick, MD, Director of Health Policy and Planning, University of Pennsylvania; Richard Rothman, MD, Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; and myself, Dean of the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania. Lewis Coriell, MD, President of the College, introduced this session. A small audience, the Council of the College, was present. My remarks focused both on nursing as a solution to the problems facing us now and in the years ahead and the need for collaboration between physicians and nurses. The forum was carried live on major networks. Interviews following President Reagan's later address to a large audience were carried on local and national television and radio. Nurse executives are participating in such publicized events with greater frequency. The number of requests to nurse executives for comments to both print and electronic media can be expected to increase because of the applicant and nurse shortage. Recently, I was asked to give some advice on how to maximize one's contact with the media, since I have had considerable experience on live TV and radio. (My first experience was in 1966 on the Today Show, and was followed by many other interviews on varied topics related to nursing and consumerism.) Thus, following are my few "rules" on media contact. i~i

Rule I. Be prepared with your agenda. No matter what question you are asked, swing right into your agenda, whether it answers the question directly or not. Don't stop speaking until you have said everything you want to say. Otherwise, you will be interrupted by the interviewer. Speak rapidly.

Let me give two examples. When Bryant Gumbel asked me about the "new" nurse practitioner, I told him about nursing and provided a quick summary about why nurse practitioners weren't new, although that was the theme of the program. Building understanding of nursing as a whole was my goal, so I launched into that topic rapidly and eventually answered his question within my context. The second example shows what can happen when you are not prepared with your agenda. Not long ago, I heard a radio interview with a nurse stimulated by reports of the nursing shortage. When asked whether or not there was a nursing shortage, the nurse replied, "Yes, there certainly is." Technically, the answer was correct, but the nurse relinquished her control over the content and length of her answer and the interview by not going into greater detail. She also wasted valuable teaching time on what the shortage meant to nurses, to patients, how this nurse defined shortage as opposed to the interviewer's definition, how listeners defined shortage, etc. Rule 2. Don't feel you have to be a representative of one of the major nursing organizations to talk about nursing. Inevitably, we are asked how nurses are prepared. I never give information on anything but baccalaureate and higher degree preparation. I don't mislead, but I do talk about trends and preferences and what I believe consumers need. There is absolutely no reason for someone interviewing a nurse to expect a totally objective and usually boring encyclopedic explanation of nursing education. Journalists want opinion as much as information. Opinions, which should be backed up by good examples of patient needs, are interesting and lively. Rule 3. Be as charming as possible and assume that the interviewer is friendly to you and nursing. President Reagan commented on my remarks by saying he had understood me and knew much about what I was saying because his wife was a "nurse's aide." (I assumed this meant during his recent hospitalization.) Many of my colleagues thought I would be insulted by his response but I took it as friendly and gracious and believe that is what the President intended. Even if I had had the opportunity to respond, I would not have chosen to respond to that series of remarks.


Continued on page 320 261



From Our Columnists, c o n t D u l e d The Nurse Executive, Continued from page 261. If I had to sacrifice one of these three rules, it would be the last. The first two are essential. If they cannot be followed, the interv.Jew will be worth little. These rules can be mastered. Rule 1 takes some thinking, planning, and organizing before the interview, but in time all three rules come naturally since we often follow them without realizing it on a daily basis. Being prepared, which helps you give thoughtful, reasoned opinions to an interviewer you assume is friendly and open to your point of view, is a reasonable way to function. Our effectiveness as representatives of nursing will increase as more of us learn to master the m e d i a , demonstrating the number of nurses who can be helpful in the publication information arena. Our role as leaders of the profession includes education of the public. Besides, it's fun.


Dean, Schoolof Nursing University of Pennsyh,ania Philadelphia, PA 19104


Continued from page 265. up; to keep safe; to be the best possible resource to students; to invest their time for upgrading quality of patient care; to keep classroom presentations timely, relevant, and fresh; to find clinical material and cases to invigorate teaching in all settings; and to confront the researchable questions.

Is Service an Expectation? For the university in which service is weighed as heavily as teaching and research, the educator attempts to spread time and attention over three areas that may not be as interactive as necessary for success. However, when one is teaching one subject, researching another, and participating in the larger life of the community in diverse ways, time is fragmented and, instead of the hoped for traction, distraction is the result. For the institution in which clinical care is the defined service, health professionals (faculties of nursing, dentistry, medicine, pharmacy) may be required to run student infirmaries, cover inpatient services, staff outpatient clinics, supervise students at all levels and at all hours, take calls, and implement a host of service initiatives valued by the department or college. Only slowly has faculty practice in nursing developed in such a way as to provide incentives and rewards to those faculty who choose to align themselves with the plan. In some cases, nurse faculty are pursuing tenure, in other cases tenure has been achieved, and fre-


quently a portion of nurse faculty hold clinical or nontenure track status. Where there is clear recognition and reward for service, few strains beyond overcrowded hours and days occur. When these activities are required but neither recognized nor rewarded, what is rewarded such as research and scholarly activities must take second place, be squeezed into evenings, weekends, summers, and sabbaticals. Welcome are the excellent but rare examples where clinical service and ongoing research and clinical teaching are inseparable and .interact compatibly to produce a synergistic effect.

How Do You Express Your Professionalism? There seems to b-e a natural proclivity to certain activities based on what one does well. Some faculty members express themselves in hyperkinetic activities; others mull and ponder. Some faculty members feel incomplete without regular hours in the library as part of their academic diet; other faculty members just "can't ever seem to get there." As our career develops and our interests change, our work habits and settings o f choice are more clearly defined. W e come to recognize what type of professional climate feeds us, excites us, and challenges us. It is important that each of us assess and reassess as our career develops. W e see what we can and cannot balance; we understand what we do and do not wish to balance. Some faculty members put students first, and make a sacrifice of research or writing time if a student places a request or demand for special time. Other faculty members respond to reasonable requests for student contact time out of the classroom, delegate to a teaching or research assistant where possible, commit to research and scholarly activities, and guard the intrusion and invasion of their time and space judiciously. Some faculty members feel responsible for the work of the school and for its governance. Certain faculty members feel real only when they are in the classroom. Surprisingly, some even like committee meetings and make their contribution through that mode of expression. All make an important contribution to the institution. Which brings us full-circle to our first question! What does the institution value? Compatibility between individual values and institutional values is the stuffofwhich long, satisfying academic careers are made. LAUREL ARCHER COpp, PHD, RN, FAAN

Dean School of Nursing University of North Carolina-ChapelHill 107 Carrington Hall Chapel Hill, NC 27514



Continued from page 265. the establishment of an International Network of Nurse Scholars who would work collaboratively toward the development and the dissemination of knowledge within the