Should nurses boycott MTV’s new reality show ‘Scrubbing In’?

When MTV aired its new reality show “Scrubbin In” about a group of nurses, there were more outraged reactions than praises from the different communities of Nurses in and out of the country. The show gained a lot of criticism against the dramatization of the daily lives of nine individuals who happen to be in the nursing profession even before it premiered on October this year. Most of the criticisms circled around the segments that show the nurses’ activities outside of their profession which were viewed to create many negative images about nurses and reinforcing the stereotyping of “naughty” nurses as objectives of sexual desires. Quite inevitably, boycotting the show has rolled out among those in the nursing profession in just a few episodes.

Petitions from various associations of nurses to cancel the show, not only from the U.S. but also from Canada to “scrub out” Srubbin In from TV have reached massive positive responses from diverse groups of viewers who are and are not in the nursing profession. MTV producers and executives have initially responded by asking the critics to “watch the show first” before making any comments. But the groups of nurses were not contented. While the show was running its first few episodes, some of the larger groups of nurses like the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) have taken the hard steps to make MTV take more concrete actions by making a wide campaign over the web to boycott the show that will eventually cancel it from airing.

After about 10 episodes of the show, The Truth About Nursing, a non-profit organization that focuses attention on media’s portrayal of nurses, have met with MTV to take actions on the call for the cancellation of the show or a reduction of its “damaging” portrayal about nurses. The group has made some pronounced analyses of MTV’s show, stressing on the personal activities of the nurses that revolved around their social lives, which created a more negative image about being a nurse in general, especially among young impressionable viewers that MTV catches in its demographic.

The Truth About Nursing also emphasized criticism on the show’s cast that portrayed what seemed to be a lack of skills and understanding of their jobs. One example of this was when one of the cast nurses was shown on duty starting an I.V. but appears to be clueless of what she was doing. There were so many other dramatizations in the show that depicts the lack of skills of the cast nurses and how they give very low importance to their jobs and the value it provides to the patients. This portrayal supports further to the stereotyping of nurses in the media being the low-skilled workers in health care who are nothing more than “sexual objects”. The group was very much concerned of the negative impressions to people about the nursing profession and that the show could significantly contribute to the shortage of skilled nurses in the field of health care.


Majority of the netizens on various campaign websites couldn’t approve more. The show has created a wave of criticisms coming from the different parts of the world from a diverse set of professionals over the internet. Nurses and even those who are not in the profession have responded positively to the call for the boycott. But MTV is a popular network with a strong following among the young netizens, especially those who are currently still choosing a profession. While a boycott will reduce the viewership of the show, this action does not directly educate the young viewers about nursing as a profession and the real role of nurses in health care. An educational campaign would greatly help the movement for a positive view of the nursing profession. has spearheaded an open letter petition to cancel the show. The petition gained more than 30,000 signatures in about one month from all over the North American areas. Even people from other continents expressed their support for the cancellation of the show. The surge of criticisms has helped to make MTV meet with the groups of nurses and promised to make some actions. MTV promised to make five critical steps in response to the campaign of the Truth About Nursing to make more positive portrayals about nursing as a profession. These promises include featuring stories of real work of nurses on MTV’s website to reinforce the positive contributions of nurses on health care.

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