Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Lessons Learned from MTV’s “Scrubbing In”


When I learned MTV was to air the show titled “Scrubbing In,” I was not sure what to expect.  I thought it would be great to have a program that would accurately depict what nurses actually do.  However, once I learned it was a reality TV show, I had some genuine concerns.

I don’t like to say anything negative and I really struggled how I could get my views across in a positive manner.  So, let me just speak my truth and say for the record that I do not like this show!

To turn it into a positive, I would like to share some lessons I learned after watching the broadcast:

  1. You are a nurse 24/7!  Whether you are on duty or not, your actions affect the public’s perception of our profession.  It is no coincidence that nursing is consistently voted the number one trusted profession.  Yet, with programs like this, let’s hope that it does not affect our trust factor.
  2. Never drink while in scrubs.  Drinking while wearing scrubs, especially with your name badge on display, is a clear giveaway about your occupation.  The producers of shows like this would never show a physician drinking alcohol while in scrubs.
  3. Don’t use hospital equipment on a co-worker without permission.  Using hospital equipment or supplies without permission is akin to stealing.  I represented one nurse before the licensing board who was charged with having her friend come in to an OB/GYN office after hours to perform an ultrasound to determine the sex of the unborn child.  The nurse’s qualifications to do an ultrasound were never questioned as she was adequately trained.  She was not reviewing the ultrasound for medical care.  Ultrasounds to determine the baby’s sex can be done without a physician’s order or a physician’s interpretation to determine the sex.  However, since it was not her equipment (or supplies), her act was a violation of the Nurse Practice Act.
  4. Do not move out of State for a job without making sure you have your license.  On the program, two of the ten nurses (or 20%) apparently arrived at their new job and were sitting in orientation when they realized that there was a holdup in issuing their California licenses because both had a DUI charge in their past.  I frequently represent nurses in license renewal matters who have had something in their history that impairs their ability to get their licenses in a timely manner.  However, with this program, the “dirty laundry” of those two nurses was aired on national television.
  5.  Just be the whole package.  One of the nurses on the show said she had breast augmentation surgery and, though she feels she is attractive, she wants people to like her for “the whole package.”  Well, just be the whole package!  You don’t need to say or do anything.  Just be who you are and others will see that you are the whole package.

Let me end by asking you a question: would you want any of these nurses to take care of you?  They may be good nurses but I am concerned about their future and their ability to get a job from anyone who viewed the show.

To give you an idea of what such an impression can leave for your career, one client of mine worked in a small community and was charge with a criminal offense.  Her photo was on the front page of the local newspaper and even though she eventually was acquitted of the charge, she since has not been able to gain employment as a nurse.

What will a hospital think of a nurse applicant who consumes alcohol after they get off work and is flagrant with other such behaviors?

Our profession starts with us.  Do we want the nursing profession displayed in this manner?  MTV and their producers’ job is to provide entertaining TV.  The nurses’ job is to be professional and practice within the standards of our profession.  We can complain all we want to the producers of the show but it is really the nurses on the show who we need to talk to.


  1. Nurse K

    I really like how u expressed your views about this show, and u nailed everything correctly about the nurse practice act and how u are viewed by the public and u are a nurse 24/7. And no I would not let them take care of me and this will damage their career in the future. And don’t get me started about the drinkin in scrubs and with a name badge on, that is such a disgrace to our profession.

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