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Nursing on the Set in the Entertainment Industry

Monday January 24, 2000
To these RNs,
To these RNs, "nurses notes" can also mean sharing entertainment industry experiences and tips.
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Entertainment industry nursing presents exciting opportunities for nurses who are courageous enough to explore nontraditional practice. On November 13, 1999, a panel of RNs-in-ShowBiz shared some themes in nursing practice for the millennium with RN colleagues at the First National Conference of Entertainment Industry Nurses. Here are some of the prevailing themes for the aspiring showbiz nurse.
Nurses Are Teachers
According to some of our panelists, nurses are natural teachers. We teach our patients, their families, and our staff members. In turn, nurses parlay this talent to the entertainment industry. One nurse/actor, Nancy Harris, RN, from New York City, NY, said "Many of the student filmmakers are young and at the age where they need a little directing from an older person, although they don't think they need it." Claire Pank, RN/filmmaker, also from New York City, added, "My experience in nursing has helped me to teach the cinematographers and the actors that I work with." Nurses are always teaching - even in showbiz. "When you're sharing information, you're teaching whether you're behind the scenes, in front of the camera or directing," said Carol Wilson, RN, a writer/director from The Bronx, NY. Panelist Sandra Anderson-Rashad, RN, said, "When I speak in front of my colleagues, I feel more confident in presenting information."
Nurses Are Writers
Wilson emphasized that for RNs, writing is an everyday occurrence. "Every nurse at this conference is a writer. Write about the things you know about," added Panke. Many of the panelists agreed that writing in the entertainment industry can provide opportunities for RNs to share their stories and provide a voice for nurses, their patients and families, and the healthcare system.
Nurses Can Have Fun
"I realized that what started out as a hobby became another way to 'nurse' - that is, to educate and have fun at the same time," said Anderson-Rashad. Many of the panelists agreed that entertainment industry nursing is enjoyable. "It is fun to be on-set and it is fun to direct a film," said Panke. "Fun does not necessarily mean easy. You can have a lot of fun and work hard at the same time. Some nurses think that what we do in our everyday nursing is very hard and not always fun, but it is rewarding."
For the aspiring RN/actor who is concerned about the never-ending struggle for fame and fortune, Harris said, "I'll never be a star but I'm having a lot of fun." Courtney Chandel, RN, an actor director, advises, "Let your dreams go a little crazy."
Nurses Can Do It All
Many of the RNs-in-ShowBiz panelists are juggling two careers - one in nursing and the other in the entertainment industry. Go for it! was the common advice for the RN wanting to combine the two careers. "I had to do something more with what I thought I had to offer and with what I learned in nursing," said Chandel.
Doing well and doing 'good' are both important. Panke said, "I've tried very hard to keep both roles alive in my life. I'll always do nursing because it keeps me grounded, focused, and in touch with what's important in life. Nursing helps us cut through all of the outside distractions and get to what's going on inside of people - the human side. I've been a registered nurse for 20 years and have been acting all my life. I try to take the respect for people that I learned from nursing and put it into my projects," said Panke.
Teaching, writing, having fun, and "doing it all" were the major themes from the RNs-in-ShowBiz panelists at the First National Conference of Entertainment Industry Nurses. As Chandel said, "I'm not in it for the fame. I'm not in it for the money. This is something that I have to do because I have something of myself to give. And I need to do it."
See you on-the-set!