MTV’s “Scrubbing In” Rattles Critics

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