“Nurse Alice” Shares What It Takes to Be a TV Health Expert

“Nurse Alice” Shares What It Takes to Be a TV Health Expert

Have you ever seen a health expert doing a spot on television and think, “Hey, I could do that?”

Then you’re in luck, because Alice Benjamin, APRN, MSN, ACNS-BC, FNP-B, CCRN, CEN, CV-BC, Chief Nursing Officer & Correspondent for Nurse.org, Clinical Nurse Specialist & Family Nurse Practitioner, and a critical-care and emergency medicine nurse with over 23 years of experience does just that. She also has her own podcast.

Benjamin gave us information about how she got into being a TV Health Expert.

Alice Benjamin, Chief Nursing Officer and Correspondent for Nurse.org, on ABC news segmentHow did you get into being a TV Health Expert? How long have you been doing it?

I have been long-term volunteer with the American Heart Association and was asked to do radio spots for them around being heart healthy. That then segued to different TV opportunities until the next thing you know it, I had become a freelance TV health expert on several shows and outlets, NBC Los Angeles being one of them. After about a year with them, they offered a paid position that required me to be exclusive to NBC locally, and I accepted the offer. I have been a TV health expert in total for about 10 years. I appear on NBC anywhere from 4-12 times a week depending on what’s going on in the news.

Explain to me briefly what you do as a TV Health Expert. Did you have to get additional training/education to do it? 

I take complex studies and medical information and translate that into simple bullet points for the audience. I use my expertise to sift through the studies to make sure it is reliable information and generalizable to the public, and if not—I explain that. I make sure that data isn’t regurgitated that isn’t helpful to public health.

I also take this opportunity to educate the public with information to help them make healthy and safe choices for themselves and families. I have taken several courses in communications and journalism to bring myself up to speed with the TV broadcast skill set. That coupled with my more than 23 years’ experience as an advanced practice nurse is what has duly prepared me to be in this role. I’ve also been a long-time community health advocate, so speaking to the general public has always been part of my wheelhouse.

What types of topics do you discuss? Do you suggest them or does someone at the station?   

Pitching topics is a shared role between myself and the producers. Sometimes they get stories before I do, and sometimes I see stories that need to be shared. I also have journalistic privileges that allow me to see studies before the public roll out so I get to help the station prepare a story for when that embargoed date comes.

What do you like most about working as a TV Health Expert?

I enjoy being able to speak to people before they become my patients. I enjoy educating and empowering people with information to help them live healthy lives. I also like to answer many viewer questions so they feel heard and provide them with some things to ask their main provider. I also love the fact that I am a nurse in this profession. There is not another nurse (that I know of) who is a regular health/medical contributor on TV.  

What are your biggest challenges as a TV Health Expert? What are your greatest rewards as one? 

My greatest reward is helping people. My biggest challenge is always having the time to do so. I still work as a nurse so making time to research, prep, and be on TV takes a lot of time and work.

If someone wanted to get into the type of side gig you’re doing, what steps would you tell them to take?

I get that question a lot and I’m always a little confused with how to answer it. I never sought out to be a TV health expert. It’s something that I fell into. It was a natural calling. And I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

My recommendation to others would be to study journalism and communications along with being a nurse. This isn’t something that you just pick up and do. It requires training and orienting for a specialty. Health media/communications is definitely a specialty.

Anything else?

Being on television as an advanced practice nurse talking to the masses about health, wellness, and medical issues has been extremely fulfilling. Some have told me that I make it look easy, but believe me it is not. As an experienced clinical nurse specialist and family nurse practitioner with lots of life experience, this has allowed me to feel comfortable with doing this. I still participate in media training provided by NBC. I am continuously learning communications, just as I am continuously learning health care as things change.

Balancing a Nursing Career with a Side Gig

Balancing a Nursing Career with a Side Gig

For the last 15 years, Ashley Watkins, MSN, RN, has worked at the University of Maryland Midtown Campus. When she’s not working in the Perioperative Department, she’s probably involved with her side gig, Little Picasso Events.

She took time to tell us about her side business and how she manages both.


How did you come up with the idea for Little Picasso Events? Why did you want to do this? How long have you been doing it? What areas do you serve?

Little Picasso Events has been in business for almost 6 years. Two lifelong friends decided to mesh their talents to create something beautiful! I am a self-taught seamstress, crafter, and painter. Because I’m really creative and is not easily defeated by new tasks, I also have a keen eye for colors and design. Ashley Fadiora is the co-owner, and is known for her sociable and free-spirit. She loves art, planning, organizing, and has more than 10 years of experience training and facilitating group activities.

Our company was created with the goal to bring family and friends together to create lifetime memories. Little Picasso Events serve all areas of Baltimore City and County in Maryland.

Explain to me what Little Picasso Events is, does, and what ages it serves.

We are a mobile Sip & Paint company offering art activities for children and adults ages 4 and older.

Each Little Picasso event includes a guided painting activity for a theme of your choice. We hope to disrupt technology, if only for a few hours, to promote personal growth and stimulate social skills. We believe technology has put a huge strain on everyday life. The reintroduction to art in this form aids in nurturing talents that technology may limit. Providing opportunities to be creative during structured group activities affords children and families an opportunity to acknowledge and accept the differences in others. This helps with social skill building, communication, and the development of coping skills for our customers.

Do you find that this is easy to do even while working as a nurse?

Running the business and working has never presented much difficulty.  Painting is therapy. It’s self-care and actually helps to decompress from any stressors presented during the course of the week.

What do you like most about working with Little Picasso Events?

We really enjoy getting to meet so many different people, making them smile, and helping them to create something they didn’t think they could. As a nurse, oftentimes when families come together, it’s not always for a joyous occasion. Working with Little Picasso Events changes the narrative and allows the opportunity for decompression and self-expression.

What are your biggest challenges with this side gig? What are your greatest rewards?

We can be our own worst critics. Oftentimes participants are super critical of their work, or doubtful of themselves even before they get started. Sometimes it can be challenging to help change that mindset. We have all of our participants recite a pledge before each paint session to help boost self-confidence and remind them that whatever they create will be great.

We have them point at their canvas and repeat:

“This is my canvas,
It’s all mine,
Whatever I paint,
It will be just fine!”

 It is extremely rewarding to be a part of helping others create positive memories. We have the pleasure to be involved with many celebrations and events including birthdays, anniversaries, bridal showers, camp activities, conferences, and mixer events.