The contemporary American medical industry feels the lack of those, who directly take care of the patients and satisfy most of the patients’ needs. The thing is that there are not enough nurses in the American hospitals and clinics due to the small salaries and the lack of perspectives for the career development the registered nurses have. Fortunately, in the last decade numerous shows appeared which create a positive image of nursing and encourage young people to choose it as their career.
The ER was one of the first TV series which took this mission. There were several remarkable actors who played nurses in this show, but the most remembering is Julianne Margulies’ character, Carol Hathaway, the head nurse in the Emergency Room. There also were several nurses on the second roles. Carol, the head nurse, was often shown at leading roles in the ER series. She was always on duty to save the patients and to assist the doctors. The ER displays Carol and other nurses working directly with the patients, fulfilling their professional chores. In this show nurses are shown providing nursing care to the patients, but it is also noted that sometimes these medical practitioners have to make the decisions and fulfil functions that are out of their professional competence.
In scenes with physicians, where other nurses take part, those are the doctors who do most of the talking, but when Carol Hathaway is aired it is her who talks the most. She always has her own opinion about the issues discussed, and she is ready to stand for her viewpoint. In the ER lots of episodes with doctors and nurses are aired, and the who is deciding what help the patient actually needs depends on the personality of the doctor and of the nurse. Of course, usually it is the doctor who guides the process, but sometimes the nurse has to take this role. Let’s, for example recall Dr. Carter’s first day in the ER as a doctor. He was really scared when he got his first patient, so Carol had to fulfil his chores.
Carol Hathaway is portrayed as one of the strongest and most intelligent women in the whole series. She’s strong, ambitious and intelligent, capable and eager of learning something new. Carol’s character is even stronger than most of the doctors who work with her have; but she’s an exception, as most nurses are shown as less ambitious and, more light-headed. Most of them have time for activities besides their job, so they seem little touched by the problems that happen in the hospital. Thus the personality traits depicted in Julianna Margulies’ character, Carol are shown as abnormal for the person of her occupation.
Carol Hathaway’s values change as she’s developing personally and professionally through the series. At the beginning serving people, saving them is the most significant for her, but with the time passing we notice that Carol becomes more and more ambitious, she longs for recognition and scholarship. In the same time the other nurses long for various things – most of them still feel that their work is of greatest importance and try to fulfill their chores as drudgingly as possible, but there are also some nurses who just want to sit and do nothing. Most nurses are shown as less intelligent and ambitious than the doctors are.
In the ER the nurses aren’t portrayed in sexually demeaning terms, it’s rather they are evaluated on the basis of their professionalism and excellence. Of course, most of the nurses depicted are attractive, and several romantic lines appear which involve nurses.
It’s interesting that in the ER nursing is not portrayed as a fulfilling career. The nurses are complaining that the doctors underevaluate them, and in the middle of the series Carol decides to continue her education for to get the doctor’s diploma. Despite of that, the job of a nurse is shown as quite an interesting and exciting one, but in the same time very tiring and demanding.
In the ER the profession of a nurse is shown as a deficit and exciting one, but it is also said that the doctors are superior to the nurses, and that the nurses have few opportunities for the career development.
“ER” (1994) TV-Series 1994-????. Retrieved October 1, 2005 from the IMDB website.
< http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108757/ >
ER. About the Show. (2005). Retrieved October 1, 2005 from the NBC website.