MTV's "Scrubbing In" Rattles Critics

They flirt. Fight. Curse. Party. And that’s some of the behavior in the trailer of MTV’s Scrubbing In, a new reality show about a group of twentysomething traveling nurses in Orange County, Calif.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the controversy. Even before the show premiered on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 10 p.m. ET, critics were angered by the trailer and its less than flattering portrayal of nurses. (The trailer also featured the nurses working hard).

Already, more than 20,000 people have signed an online petition on, calling the show “a misrepresentation of the nursing profession” and demanding its cancellation. The American Nurses Association (ANA) weighed in last week with a letter to MTV about the show’s distorted depiction of nurses. 

ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN, fired off a letter to MTV president Stephen Friedman. “Negative nurse portrayals seriously damage nurse-recruitment efforts and may well exacerbate a shortage that is fast reaching crisis proportions in our nations,” she wrote. “Negative images reinforce sexist and inaccurate nurse stereotypes, and these depictions do play a role in shaping the values, impressions and ultimately career choices of young people.” Daley asked nurses and their supporters to walk away from networks, companies and sponsors who “persist in disrespecting the most respected profession.”

MTV online commenters who watched the first show last Thursday generally seemed unimpressed. 

“As a soon to be Doctor of Nursing Practice/Family Nurse Practitioner, I am so upset about this show,” wrote one poster. “It DOES NOT portray the art and science behind nursing.”

Wrote another: “This show is a disgrace to the nursing profession.” 

But on the flip side, do viewers really believe reality TV is...well, real? These programs have writers for a reason. Still, I suspect some impressionable viewers may think these young nurses being shadowed by cameras represent the nation’s nurses. But is a boycott, which will lead to more publicity, necessary? 

What do you think about Scrubbing In?

Robin Farmer is a freelance writer with a focus on health, education and business. You can reach her at


All of the cast are young nurses: both in age and experience. therefore why don't we just cut them some slack. I think the real problem with nursing is related to lack of leadership, lack of nurse advocates, and role confusion. As nurses young and older get to their assgned wards, they realize that they will be shunted, if they strongly advocate for their patients and for their peers. to make matters worst, their nursing managers are not necessarily the brightest, as many rose up the ranks by playing politics and keeping quiet rather than being advocates for those they are supposed to lead.

     I did see one interesting thing on the show, which was how RN Chris (male) got caught in a situation that he should have not by trying to help a female nurse with her IV skills. Chris was admonished harshly by his supervisor (he deserved some of it for assuming the female RN has cleared things up) for leaving the ER, and given a very stern first and last warning, while the female was counseled in a more "mother goose" kind of fashion. To make matters worst, RN Chris had to endure the ostracizing by the whole female cast, as he was assumed to be in the wrong by the other females simply because the female cast member said so. No one sought to get his side of the story. Then another male cast member gets in trouble with the female cast member because according to the female RN, he didn't defend her from the male RN bullying. There is, without a doubt, a bias amongst a majority of female nurses against males nurses, and, as some of male peers have told me, that kind of thing that is driving them out of nursing rather the perils of nursing themselves.

Carlos Feliciano, RN. MSN, CHC  

This is interesting. I will share this to my cousin. He will love this. - Mint Springs Farm

You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.