I Might Like Nurse Jackie


I’ve only seen the promos for Nurse Jackie, the new Showtime series with Edie Falco as the lead character. That’s right. Not Doctor Jackie, but Nurse Jackie.

I will probably be stoned by some of my colleagues for not boycotting a program that revolves around a nurse who has an addiction. But as far as I can tell, Nurse Jackie is tough, funny, and, above all, a smart nurse who is a fierce advocate for her patients. After so many hospital-based programs that feature doctors doing nursing care and nurses in bit parts taking their abuse, I’m all for a nurse character who is not perfect but who is outspoken and outrageous about getting her patients the care they need.

I spoke with one of the writers of the program months ago. I told her that I wasn’t looking for a perfect nurse—nurses have complex, funny, sad, tragic, and interesting lives that can make for programming that will rival the drama and comedy of the best doctor-focused series. I said I wanted to see a program that provided an accurate portrayal of the kind of heroic work that nurses do every day.

I hope Nurse Jackie will break her addiction as the series moves on, but if the lead doctor of the popular series House can have a drug addiction, then why not a nurse? If she comes off as a dimwit or kowtows to what docs and administrators want to do that will endanger patients, then I’ll boycott.

Until then, I will be signing up for Showtime and checking out this series. After years of complaining to producers about how they are misrepresenting nurses in entertainment media, the nursing community better get over perfection and spread the word about this series. We may not have another chance for a strong nurse character in a major TV program for a while.

Diana Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, AJN editor-in-chief

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. […] (Click the video above to watch the first episode.) The publicity people at Showtime saw my initial post on the trailer, so they sent me the first six episodes to watch. (Don’t worry, nothing I write […]

  2. Jennifer Bredemeyer June 3, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I watched the first show. I did enjoy the show. It’s well written and absurd, but honestly, in the real world, I wouldn’t want this nurse taking care of me.

    I can see why you think Jackie has a lot going for her (NOT). She cheats on her husband and has two young little girls. She steals money and shoes from the hospital staff and slips them secretly to a pregnant unmarried woman whose boyfriend died in a bike accident because she feels sorry for the pregnant woman. She is drug addicted and almost kills a patient during her shift. She shows that she can be smart and a good advocate for her patients but not enough to save their life, but what I see represented is a burned out nurse who is an accident waiting to happen. I know we are talking about a fictional character but I would prefer to see television challenged by attempting to create nurse role models guided and driven by a keen sense of right and wrong since being able to tell the difference guides us every day in our profession. I don’t see this character struggling enough with that This character says “make me good but not now”.

    Jennifer Bredemeyer, MSN, RN

  3. Luz Huntington-Moskos May 19, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I wholeheartedly agree. I am very tired of the simple portrayal of nurses in the media. For all the hard work we do, the entertainment community certainly owes us a complex, honest portrayal of our committment and our humanity.

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