Nurses: Their Vital Role in Transforming Healthcare, a documentary produced by the founder and president of Inovia Media Group/TML, Robert Doran, will premiere on Tuesday, May 12 at 9 p.m., on CPTV (Connecticut Public Television) as part of a healthcare block of programming. The documentary, narrated by Joan Lunden, is the culmination of more than two years of work for Doran, a New Canaan resident.
“If you’re in the hospital, who’s the person there ninety—if not a hundred—percent of the time? Who’s got that three-hundred-and-sixty degree view of everything that’s happening to you? I wanted to celebrate [nurses’] efforts, understanding how they work and live.”
Doran admits he set out to make a documentary that gives nursing nationwide “a pat on the back,” but—due to what he was hearing in his interviews and research—he felt he could share their stores while addressing some problems with our healthcare system.
“[Nurses] have been seen as overhead, rather than caregivers, by insurance companies,” Doran says. “With this documentary, we set out to inform people of how the healthcare system is evolving into a flat, rather than hierarchal, structure—physicians and nurses working as part of an equal team, rather than a command and control system.” It might not be there yet, but Doran feels there is progress, that the shift is happening right now.
Doran drew on years of experience consulting for healthcare clients in the making of the documentary. “I’ve seen up close and personal how nurses impact our care by being bedside advocates. Through my research, some recurring themes kept coming up around quality of patient care, [including] the fact that nurses are not always allowed to practice to the full scope of their education. In some states they can suture a wound but they can’t administer the pain medication. They’re really treated more as overhead of the institution, like the electricity. Therefore, they’re not billed out in that sense, [their work is] not captured.”
Doran specifically recalls flying out to Big Sandy, Montana—population estimated at 605—which took “two planes, a bus and a hike” to get to. “I’m joking of course, but the town is three hours from the nearest hospital,” Doran opines. “There’s no physician out there, but there is a nurse practitioner who takes care of everybody. Broken bones, hips, shotgun wounds, everything you can imagine. If [nurses] need a physician, they can call one, or they can airlift people to the nearest hospital quickly.
“Nurse practitioner is a big, new area that’s expanding, and really, in a vital way, this professional is beginning to assume [the general physician] role in certain areas. So there is a growing recognition of how nurses can impact healthcare. If we allow nurses to do more of the work they’re educated to do, service providers would be lowering their costs, patients would be lowering their costs, and we could improve patient outcomes.”
“I’m not saying that I found the solution to healthcare,” Doran admits jovially, “but what I believe I have hit upon is a very key and important area for healthcare going forward. And the documentary is a starting point to engage communities, healthcare leaders and government officials in the discussion around the impact of nursing.”
If you’re interested in how nurses’ roles in healthcare are evolving, pick up the book that Doran ordered within minutes of our interview’s conclusion, The Call of Nursing: Stories from the Front Lines of Health Care, by Bill Patrick, co-director of Fairfield University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Patrick conducted nearly fifty original interviews with nurses (yielding nearly 2,000 pages of transcripts) and whittled it down to twenty-three for the final product. In this volume, a hospice nurse reveals the connection she develops to dying patients; a labor and delivery nurse details the tribulations of caring for high-risk mothers and babies; a flight nurse delves into the emotional weight of critical care training; an emergency and critical care nurse recalls September 11 as a rookie paramedic. “This is more than a book of healthcare stories,” writes Patrick. “This is an anthology of hard-won wisdom, and I celebrate these nurses for offering their version of it.” Patrick, author of 2005’s harrowing Saving Troy, which details his year spent with firefighters and paramedics from Troy, New York, is wonderful at capturing the intricacies and fragilities of the human condition; he does so again in The Call of Nursing.