Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH Founder and Executive Director
Sandy Summers is Executive Director of The Truth About Nursing. Since 2001 she has led the effort to change how the world views nursing by challenging damaging media depictions of nurses. Ms. Summers is the co-author of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk. Her media advocacy work began when she and fellow Johns Hopkins graduate students began the movement in April 2001. (More on our history page.) She speaks frequently on nursing's image and empowering nurses to change how they are perceived. Ms. Summers has Masters Degrees in Nursing and Public Health from Johns Hopkins University (2002). She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Southern Connecticut State University in 1984. Sandy Summers has worked in cooperation with major corporations in creating accurate images of nursing. In 2013 she worked with others to convince MTV to ameliorate the damage done by its television show Scrubbing In, that focused on the tawdry details of the personal lives of a group of travel nurses. That same year she convinced American Family Care, a chain of quick clinics, to stop advertising in a way that suggested that NPs are inferior to physicians. In 2012, she led the effort to remove two basketball naughty nurse images--a television commercial by Hooters, and a routine by the Dallas Mavericks dancers. In 2010-11, she led the effort to ask Dr. Oz to apologize for having naughty nurses featured in episodes two weeks in a row, which led to global press coverage and a public apology. In that same year her work with the Truth About Nursing led to the cessation of a development of a television program called Cali Nurse, which was to feature naughty nurses. In 2009 she led the effort to persuade the Lung Cancer Alliance to remove its "Dr. Lung Love" public service announcement that aimed to increase funding for lung cancer research through a video utilizing the naughty nurse stereotype. In 2007 she convinced Heineken to digitally alter the outfits on frivolous women in a Dos Equis commercial so that they no longer resembled nurses. That year she also convinced Cadbury-Schweppes to cease its Dentyne Ice commercial which featured 2 nurses hopping into the beds of two male patients. In 2006 she convinced Schick to cease its naughty nurse print commercials; and Coors to stop using nurses in its Coors Light Trauma Tour. That same year she convinced Constellation Brands to end its Water Made Naughty ads and tour, featuring naughty nurses selling vodka. In 2005, she persuaded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to change the name of its major annual minority health campaign from "Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day" to "Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day," in order to better reflect the key roles nurses play in addressing the very disparities the campaign targets. Her work has won Media Awards from the American Academy of Nursing in 2004 and 2005. The 2005 AAN award was for the Skechers/Christina Aguilera campaign, in which more than 3000 supporters sent letters to the Skechers shoe company about a prominent naughty nurse ad. The company pulled the ad worldwide. The 2004 AAN award recognized her efforts to improve the portrayal of nursing on NBC's influential "ER," efforts that had an effect, as some episodes reflect attempts to address key issues they have been raising with the show's producers since 2001. In late 2004, television psychologist Dr. Phil suggested on the air that the health care system is full of "cute little nurses" who are out to "seduce and marry" physicians "because that's their ticket out of having to work as a nurse." After 1400 supporters flooded the show with emails in response to the campaign, Dr. Phil issued at least two on-air statements of support for nursing. And in 2005, after Summers led a campaign to "ER"'s sponsors, Schering-Plough asked "ER" Executive Producers to develop "stories that highlight accurate roles, responsibilities, skills and contributions of today's modern nursing profession." That same year, Summers led the effort to convince Gillette to pull a TAG Body Spray naughty nurse commercial. This was one in a string of successes in discouraging degrading nurse advertising and product placement by major corporations including Wal-Mart, Disney, CVS, Pennzoil, Tickle, Clairol, Physicians Formula and others. Ms. Summers' work has been covered widely in the lay media on television programs, such as CNN and 20/20, as a guest on myriad radio shows, and in many hundreds of articles in the print media from the Associated Press to United Press International and from the New York Times to the Times of India. (See press coverage page.) Prior to her graduate work, Ms. Summers practiced nursing in the emergency departments and intensive care units of some of America's major trauma centers, including San Francisco General Hospital, Charity Hospital at New Orleans, Washington Hospital Center (D.C.), Georgetown Hospital, and D.C. General Hospital. From 1994-97, Ms. Summers lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where among other jobs, she taught nursing teachers at the Central Nursing School, and undertook nursing research for the International Research Development Centre and Redd Barna (Norwegian Save the Children). She also lived and worked for a year each in New Zealand and St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Ms. Summers is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the international nursing honor society, and Delta Omega, the public health honor society. Ms. Summers lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband and two children. She spent her childhood in Vernon-Rockville, Connecticut.