Reality TV Tackles Nurse Shortage
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
Web browsers can get a dose this fall of what TV viewers have been glued to season after season. On the Net will be the first Web-based reality show called "Nurse TV." In this case, the producers run an employment agency for nurses. They hope to entice nurses to sign on with their company and encourage young people to a profession that's suffering a severe shortage. NPR's Patricia Neighmond reports.
PATRICIA NEIGHMOND reporting:
Log on to nursetv.com, and this is what you'll hear.
(Soundbite of nursetv.com)
Announcer: Compassionate, adventurous, heroic.
NEIGHMOND: This is an online commercial for a video Web production that will follow six nurses from different parts of the country who come to Southern California to work in local hospitals for 13 weeks.
(Soundbite of nursetv.com)
Announcer: With a thirst for adventure and a dedication to their profession, these six people will change the way you think about nursing. See how they live, work and play. See the drama and the adventure as these heroic nurses share their lives with you. "13 Weeks," coming this fall.
NEIGHMOND: People who log on to nursestv.com will vote for the six nurses who will appear on the show. "Nurse TV" is the brainchild of Alan Braynin, who runs a nurse employment agency called Access Nurses. Braynin's only in his early 30s, but he's been involved in Web advertising and information technology since college. He says he knows he can find six nurses who will be exceptional, both professionally and personally.
Mr. ALAN BRAYNIN ("Nurse TV"): We have nurses that work for us right now that are triathletes. We have nurses that travel so they can ski in the winter and surf in the summertime. And we'd like to highlight those kinds of nurses on the show, to show young people that may be looking at a career in nursing that you could surf and have an adventurous life and travel and do good and be a nurse.
NEIGHMOND: Allison Skorvanik(ph) is one of those nurses who's already getting temporary jobs through Access Nurses, and she wants to be on the show. Right now she's assigned to the ER at Irvine Medical Center in Southern California. Over the past two years, Skorvanik's worked for hospitals in Northern California, in Los Angeles and in Arizona on a Navajo Indian reservation. If she gets picked for the show, she'll be working at a local hospital but living with five other nurses in a beach-side mansion in Orange County, an enticing prospect.
Ms. ALLISON SKORVANIK (Nurse): Especially the mansion part, because in reality, you really don't stay in a mansion. You have nice housing but nowhere near a mansion.
NEIGHMOND: Initially a little on edge about the idea of people following her around with a camera, Skorvanik quickly got over it.
Ms. SKORVANIK: I just think it would be a fun thing to do, and I think it would be a good way to get--for the public to see what emergency nursing and nursing in general is all about and maybe get the word out to younger people to say, `Hey, you know, there's more to being a nurse than'--I know, you know, a lot of people are afraid of the things that happen in the emergency room or in the hospital in regards to vomiting and things like that and blood, and nursing's a lot more than just those aspects.
NEIGHMOND: And there are plans for group activities on the show, dining at a trendy restaurant, for example, going to Disneyland or even taking a hot-air balloon ride, all on camera. Then, says Alan Braynin, each nurse will try to achieve a personal, non-work-related goal.
Mr. BRAYNIN: Say someone that wants to lose weight. We're going to get them a personal trainer for 13 weeks so they can work in the hospital, experience Southern California and at the same time achieve their personal goal of losing weight or whatever that goal happens to be.
Ms. SKORVANIK: Mine would be surfing.
NEIGHMOND: Hopeful candidate Allison Skorvanik.
Ms. SKORVANIK: I have wanted to learn how to surf. When I was up in Northern California, I actually had two lessons, and then the girl that was teaching me--she was a private teacher and she got a job in South America, so she left and then I never got into it again. So that would be one thing I would love to pursue, to learn how to surf.
NEIGHMOND: Details of the show are still in the making, but Braynin says it will probably run about seven minutes on the Web a few times a week. In San Francisco, Erin Hunter works with the market research firm comScore Media Metrix. She says streaming video shows like "Nurse TV" are possible now because of the dominance of broadband Internet connections.
Ms. ERIN HUNTER (comScore Media Metrix): If you look at something like--let's take a very popular television show such as "The Apprentice." Obviously there's a broad audience for "The Apprentice" on television. There's also a very high number of consumers that will--after the television show or even during the television show will use the Web site to stream additional clips and video from that particular television show. So it potentially is the same consumer who might prefer to do it over the Internet rather than on the television.
NEIGHMOND: Access Nurses' Alan Braynin is advertising "Nurse TV" on Web sites that reach nurses and other health professionals. He's hoping the new show will turn out to be so entertaining, it's picked up by television. Patricia Neighmond, NPR News.
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