Last weekend I saw an NPR headline that caught my attention:
In the article, author Kelli Dunham (herself a nurse) discusses the prevalence of unsatisfying media representations of nurses. She details nurse representations in popular media that include hyper-sexuality, incompetency, lack of professionalism, and just plain mischaracterizations in shows like “Getting On,” “The Mindy Project,” “House,” and “Red Band Society.” While Dunham concedes that the shows are meant for entertainment, she also emphasizes that the issue of nurse representation in media has real effects.
For example, she quotes The Truth About Nursing which wrote that they believed, “the vast gap between what skilled nurses really do and what the public thinks they do is a fundamental factor underlying most of the more immediate apparent causes of the [nursing] shortage [such as], understaffing, poor work conditions, [and] inadequate resources for nursing research and education.”
So, what does all of this have to do with robots?
If you’ve seen Disney’s 2014 computed animated feature Big Hero 6, you probably have an idea. The movie tells the story of a 14-year-old robotics wunderkind, Hiro, who puts together a team of superheroes to avenge his brother Tadashi, who was also a robotics genius and who died in a horrible accident. One day, Hiro fortuitously turns on one of Tadashi’s projects, a robotic “personal healthcare companion” named Baymax, who cares for Hiro in many ways, illustrating why a nurse is the ultimate “big hero.”
The entire film — but especially the adorable, compassionate, hard-working Baymax — is extremely charming and fun. And while a robot is absolutely no replacement for a real, live nurse, Dunham’s NPR piece applauds how Baymax’s holistic approach to healthcare represents nurses.
Dunham wrote, regarding her impression of Baymax as a media nurse representation, “You know your profession has an image problem when you point to a balloonish animated robot doll and say, ‘Yes, that’s good. That accurately reflects what I do on a daily basis. More representations like that, please.’”
Have you seen Big Hero 6? What did you think of the film and it’s relation to nursing?