Certified Nurse Assistants in Pop Culture

The image of nursing has changed and developed throughout history. One of the main causes of this change is the media’s portrayal of the profession. American culture and major historical events have also played a factor in shaping the public’s perception of professional nursing. Views of nurses also vary globally, as seen in the comparison between the popular image of Japanese and American nurses. Despite the challenging negative impressions established by the media and pop culture, nurses must adhere to a moral and ethical code, in providing the highest quality of care.

Pop culture has become the way in which many of us recognize the events that are going on in the world through a different light, as well as become informed of many positions through an entertainment venue. While nursing in pop culture has been a trend dating back to the early twentieth century, certified nurse assistants have additionally become a prime target for the many hospital shows that are on tv, and allow many of us an insight into the balance between nurses and nurse assistants.

Grey’s Anatomy is an ABC sitcom which generally revolves around the lives of surgeons at Seattle Grace Hospital in Washington, although the nurses in the show have had prominent roles as well. Even more important is the fact that nurse assistants have been mentioned, especially in episodes where there are mass patients due to some catastrophic incident. Therefore, their nurse assistants are ready to jump in and care for patients who may not be getting the attention they need from registered nurses.

ER was the quintessential hospital show, running 15 years before airing the last episode in 2009. The show revolves around the lives of doctors and a few nurses as well. Different from grey’s anatomy, this show builds up the characters of its nurses, rather than focusing solely on doctors becoming more analogous to real life hospital settings. While nurse assistants were not readily featured on the show, they played many recurring characters, especially since one of the primary care characters on the show was Nurse Carol Hathoway, distinguishable from the doctors due to her pink scrubs.

Finally, the medical comedy scrubs takes a different spin on the medical community by making interactions between doctors, nurses, and patients comical, rather than the dramatic approach other medical tv shows take. Ending earlier in 2009 as well, the show revolved around the lives of several doctors and nurses from the the point of Doctor J.D. Dorian. The head nurse in this hospital is one of the main characters of the show and demonstrates how important nurses are to the structure of the hospital. Additionally, her nurse assistants are a prominent force within the hospital and tend to many of the patients throughout the series.

While certified nurse assistants may not be a primary role in any pop culture reference to nurses, they are typically in the background tending to patients, both in tv and in real life. Registered Nurses would not be able to do their jobs without their assistants, thereby emphasizing their vital role within the hospital.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and NursingAssistantGuides.com.