The New Zealand representative of an international nursing group has taken the critically acclaimed TV drama Grey's Anatomy to task over its portrayal of nurses.
The "bimbo" image of nurses in the popular American TV show is damaging to the profession, said Anita Bamford, a senior lecturer at Auckland University of Technology and member of the US-based Centre for Nursing Advocacy.
"Nurses in this series are nothing more than a pathetic foil to the god-like doctor heroes. They are typically presented as marginally-skilled physician subordinates, usually faceless and mute - like wallpaper."
Revolving around the lives of a group of junior doctors at a fictitious Seattle hospital, TV2's top-rating series is up for 11 Emmy awards this year, including best drama.
Despite its popularity, the show has been widely criticised by professional groups for inaccurately presenting medical situations. Its season finale screens tonight.
The centre has launched a campaign against the producers of the series, calling for nurses to be rewritten as skilled professionals who play a central role in patient care.
"The show presents an inaccurate and damaging portrayal of nursing. You frequently see surgical interns performing key tasks normally done by nurses - like patient monitoring and psycho-social support," said Ms Bamford. "Mostly, the nursing characters are restricted to menial tasks."
Research showed that shows such as Grey's Anatomy had a real effect on the public's healthcare views and actions, she said.
The centre is a non-profit organisation which monitors the depiction of nursing in the news and entertainment. Along with Grey's Anatomy, it currently has campaigns against hit medical shows House and ER.
It has been monitoring Grey's Anatomy since it first aired in 2005.
"In earlier episodes they portrayed nurses as fawning or vindictive losers. Most offensive is when the physicians show outright contempt for nurses."
Ms Bamford, who was previously director of nursing at Capital and Coast District Health Board, praises Shortland Street for its realistic portrayal of the nursing profession.
While at the board, she challenged a plan by a brewery to dress young women as 'Lion Red Nurses' for the 2003 rugby sevens at Westpac Stadium.
Following her complaints about "transforming nurses into dolly-birds in a bid to sell more beer", the promotion was axed.