Imagine this scenario: An oncology nurse encounters a new young male patient in the infusion center one morning. They enjoy good conversation, and she becomes a source of encouragement in his cancer battle.
He finishes treatment. Fast forward five years: This young man has completed nursing school and now works with HIV-infected patients in San Francisco. His inspiration was that oncology nurse, who likely would tell you, “I was just doing my job.”
Sounds like a heartwarming movie script, doesn’t it? It is, and the story is real; it’s one of many in an upcoming true-to-life film about nurses.
This narrative and others that are equally inspiring will populate the film in production by On Nursing Excellence, a nonprofit organization.
When it is released this October, the feature-length documentary will depict the work of nurses from the bedside to the boardroom, according to director Kathy Douglas, RN, MHA.
Influencing healthcare’s future
As founder and president of the Institute for Staffing Excellence and Innovation and its parent, ONE, Douglas is the film’s driving force.
“It’s really important that everyone — from policymakers to the public — understands who nurses are and what we do,” Douglas said. “It’s essential that they comprehend this as we form our future in healthcare. Often nurses are so busy delivering care that their voice isn’t heard.”
Douglas, based in California, outlined the film’s three goals: to help people understand what it means to be a nurse; to bring out the realities of nursing and how it touches people’s lives; and to show nurses how beautiful and powerful they are. “We nurses don’t often pause and reflect on how amazing this profession is,” she said.
Karen Kirby, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, FACHE, in Philadelphia is involved largely with fundraising for the film’s $80,000 budget. The DAISY Foundation, founded by Bonnie and Mark Barnes in memory of how nurses cared for their terminally ill son, is a major supporter along with corporations, hospitals and nursing organizations.
Kirby is gratified to see individual nurses also contributing financially to the project. ONE’s goal of $10,000 donated by individuals was more than 75% satisfied as of mid-April.
“This film will be very positive for nurses and create a lot of excitement,” she said. “I think it will give nurses a feeling of pride in being a nurse; they have so many different roles. This will broaden horizons and show what’s possible in this profession.”
Real nurses in real time
Dedicated in honor of the late nurse leader Joyce C. Clifford, RN, PhD, FAAN, the film features spontaneous interactions with nurses all over the U.S.
“There’s no scripting or prepping. We show up with a camera crew and just chat with selected nurses — no rehearsal, it’s authentic and real,” Douglas said. Nurses in government, the military, corporations, a Navajo reservation and hospitals are included.
Betty Long, RN, MHA, founder of Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates near Philadelphia, is featured because of her entrepreneurship. Her nurse employees improve patients’ experiences with the healthcare system through communication, intervention and advocacy.
“I’m excited about this film. Nurses are being very creative in their profession, and Kathy Douglas is capturing that,” Long said.
Douglas plans to debut the film, scheduled for completion by this October, at the ANCC National Magnet conference in Los Angeles. She hopes to disseminate it further to film festivals nationwide as well as via digital downloads and DVDs to policymakers, with short versions potentially extending to professional nursing organizations, nursing conferences, hospitals and schools of nursing.
In addition to trampling public misconceptions of nurses often generated by TV and other media, this movie aims to give nurses a fresh, inspiring look at themselves as professionals. After all, as Long noted, “We don’t toot our own horn often enough.”