"The Board's Goal Is That You Do Not Use the Term 'Nurse'

in Your Advertisements": That would make a lot of sense if the advertiser were, say, a health care establishment that didn't hire trained nurses, but only people who dressed as nurses. It doesn't make much sense if the advertiser is the Heart Attack Grill, a restaurant in which the waitresses wear skimpy nurse outfits, and are labeled "nurses" in a way that is highly unlikely to mislead the reasonable consumer. Yet the board's demand is right there in a letter from the Arizona State Board of Nursing to the Grill:

In Arizona State A.R.S. § 32-1636, only a person who holds a valid and current license to practice professional nursing in this State ... pursuant to Sections 32-1668 may use the title "Nurse" .... It would be appreciated if we could work together to resolve these complaints [referring to the "5-6 complaints" the Board had received]. The Board's goal is that you do not use the term "Nurse' in your advertisements or in the business establishment unless the persons meet the statutory requirements of A.R.S. § 32-1636.

The Grill doesn't seem to be budging, either to the legal arguments or to the objections from Sandy Summers of the Center for Nursing Advocacy, who reportedly complains (I borrow the quote from a Baltimore Sun article) that "The endless association of sex and nurses leads people to believe that maybe nurses really are available to provide for the sexual needs of patients and physicians. It degrades the professional image, it demoralizes practicing nurses and drives any self-respecting person away from considering the profession."

Does it really "drive any self-respecting person away from considering the profession"? What must Ms. Summers think of the people she represents?

This is part of the problem with overblown rhetoric. People just throw words around without thinking about what they're actually saying.
12.4.2006 1:49pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
My close friend is a nurse. Every year since she entered the profession she has worn a "slutty nurse" outfit for Halloween. It's cheesy, but leads me to wonder about how most nurses feels about Summers' representation of their profession.
12.4.2006 1:56pm
Indeed, Mike BUSL07 the thoughts of an individual member of a group often have anything whatsoever to do with how most members of that group feel.
12.4.2006 2:00pm
John (mail):
De minimis curat lex!
12.4.2006 2:02pm
Jennifer Perkins (mail):
John Stossel covered this story in a recent "Give me a break!" segment of 20/20 (11/17/06) and due (likely) to his coverage and the potential threat of involvement of my organization, the Institute for Justice, the state backed off (see I guess the AG's letter is still posted on the Grill's website, but it does not appear the state will pursue this further.
12.4.2006 2:13pm
jallgor (mail):
The Heart Attack Grill must be loving the free advertising. Is there a man alive who doesn't love the "slutty nurse" outfit? It just strikes a primordial chord. It's right up there with the french maid's costume.
I hope the fake nurses who work there at least know CPR and the Heimlich because I am picturing a lot of guys eating steaks.
12.4.2006 2:17pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
DJR, if it's any help, her friends all do the same thing, though some occasionally opt for the slutty firefighter guise.
12.4.2006 2:18pm
The fact that this type of thing is now on the agenda shows how far we've come toward gender equality. So I'm glad to hear that this is what's being debated. When cases like this end with the restaurants being defeated, as is already beginning in other cases, then we'll be on the other side of the hump and be declining toward a lousy equilibrium again.
12.4.2006 2:23pm
Houston Lawyer:
Couldn't they just be Candystripers?
12.4.2006 2:37pm
Tom952 (mail):
Just because they have a healthy appetite for sex doesn't make them sluts.
12.4.2006 2:42pm
M.E.Butler (mail):
Does that mean that you can no longer "nurse" a whiskey and soda in your local Arizona watering hole, or mothers in the Grand Canyon State can no longer "nurse" their babies--at least without a permission slip from the Nurse Diesel of the Arizons State Board of Nursing?
12.4.2006 2:42pm
gorjus (mail) (www):
Jallgor, offhand I can think of a whole lot of guys who don't like the "slutty nurse" outfit, for a whole heckuva lot of reasons--not the least of which that you presume they want a slutty nurse ever . . .

I vote with my wallet on this one, same as why I don't go to Hooters or, in an obviously more extreme sense, strip clubs. I don't think those places should be shut down, though (unless by the marketplace).

I do like chutzpah of the AZ State Board of Nursing--I wonder, would the ABA do something if a business based its primary attraction on having cariactures of lawyers that one could interact with? Would we care? Should we?
12.4.2006 2:50pm
I don't care for the slutty nurse -- but that's because my mom's a (now retired) nurse. Kidnapped Arabian princess does just fine for me.

Now, I believe there is an analagous federal statute regarding mail carriers. It was never invoked during the run of Cheers against the Cliff Clavin character.
12.4.2006 2:58pm
I don't care for the slutty nurse -- but that's because my mom's a (now retired) nurse.
Yeah, that would do it.

Even without a mother in the healing professions, I have never gotten the whole sexy-nurse thing. First of all, the fake nurses wear that starched-white get-up no actually nurse has worn since Father Knows Best went in to reruns. But second, wtf? Why nurses? Why not, I don't know, sexy female garage mechanics?

However, in case we want to continue the pretense that this is a legal blog, can someone explain the legal situation here? Can a state government restrict commercial speech that is clearly not fraudulent, to advance social goals?
12.4.2006 3:14pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Every year since she entered the profession she has worn a "slutty nurse" outfit for Halloween

12.4.2006 3:18pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Glenn - Sorry, she'd kill me. Incidentally, I wonder what this little guy has to say about all this. (God, I am such a dork).
12.4.2006 3:33pm
Houston Lawyer:
This is almost as bad as the head of the ABA complaining about lawyer jokes. Most laymen just don't understand that lawyers know a lot more lawyer jokes than they do.

Has the police union tried to stop the slutty cop outfits? Impersonating a peace officer is a crime in most jurisdictions and most wearing that outfit carry handcuffs.
12.4.2006 3:46pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

(God, I am such a dork)

Well, shake hands with another one:)
12.4.2006 3:48pm
rjb --

The federal statute concerning impersonating letter carriers (18 USC 1730) contains the Ciff Clavin exception:

The provisions of the preceding paragraph [criminalizing the wearing of "the uniform or badge which may be prescribed by the Postal Service to be worn by letter carriers,"] shall not apply to an actor or actress in a theatrical, television, or motion-picture production who wears the uniform or badge of the letter-carrier branch of the Postal Service while portraying a member of that service.
12.4.2006 4:45pm
I beleive that the union representing letter carries has objected to the "routine abuse of a member of their union" in the Blondie comic strip. This was around the time that the Postal Service was issuing the comic strip commemorative stamps -- one of which, of course, featured that character.
12.4.2006 6:01pm
Milhouse (www):
Next up, the American Barkeepers Association sues the lawyers.
12.4.2006 6:05pm
In my university, all the nursing students were ugly, which was a huge disappointment. Before I took undergraduate bioethics, I thought it might be a good course because it was mandatory for nursing students -- I thought it might be full of hot nurses. Instead it was full of heavyset mouthbreathers without much in their heads. Huge disappointment.
12.4.2006 6:15pm
Waldensian (mail):

Why not, I don't know, sexy female garage mechanics?

Oh my. You could be on to something there.
12.4.2006 7:31pm
Crunchy Frog:
If only there were actual mechanics who look like the girls in the Snap-On Tools calendars... hooboy.
12.4.2006 7:51pm
comatus (mail):
The offending employees in question are waitstaff, not prostitutes as the nursing advocate maintains. I'll bet a good lawyer could tell the difference between a waitress and a prostitute (drumroll: punchline in 3..2..1..)Nursie/advocate is due to get a reminder that you hain't been bitch-slapped until you've been bitch-slapped by a professional waitperson. Who knows, they may even have an advocate.
12.4.2006 9:18pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

the girls in the Snap-On Tools calendars

I prefer the Ridgid Tool version, personally.
12.4.2006 11:06pm
A very interesting business idea...a restaraaunt served by people dressed and acting entirely as sleezy lawyers. (Maybe they take forever to show up and threaten to sue customers who complain?) If done well it could be really funny...

Are we really sure that lawyers wouldn't complain?
12.5.2006 12:44am
Seamus (mail):
I guess nannies in Arizona can't be called "Nurse," like the famous one in Hilaire Belloc's poem.
12.5.2006 11:25am
E Daniel (mail):
Solution: The restaurant should simply misspell "nurse" to avoid sanction. "Nerse", "Nurce", "Nursse" or (my favorite) "Nurrrse".
12.5.2006 11:42am
this is one of the reactions that we see from the "perpetually offended". clearly, even given the statute, this is PARODY. if hustler can parody the image and likeness of an individual (falwell) to make a point, clearly this is the same sort of thing.

"Has the police union tried to stop the slutty cop outfits? Impersonating a peace officer is a crime in most jurisdictions and most wearing that outfit carry handcuffs."

no. most police union members, LIKE women in slutty police outfits. trust me on this :)

it's also not impersonation (at least in my jurisdiction) unless you ACT in some official manner, etc. merely dressing like a cop is not impersonation, especially when the uniform is obviously not a real cop
12.5.2006 1:36pm
bud (mail):
I sure went to different school than DR; by the time I was a senior, I would only date drama majors (from an adjacent school) and nursing students (whose dorm was directly across the street from the house we rented).

Acting on a stereotype? You betcha! Would I do the same today? I refuse to answer the question on the grounds that I'm married and my wife may well read this.
12.5.2006 7:38pm
Come on, waitresses (or, if you must, waitstaff, but I doubt there are any guys in naughty outfits there) in naughty nurse outfits might give patrons the idea that they are ...ahem..."available to provide for the sexual needs" of the patrons, but does anyone really think that is going to confuse anyone into groping the nurse coming at them with an IV (or even the orderly with a bedpan) the next time they are in the hospital?

If anyone should be complaining, I would think it would be an organization of waitstaff, not the nurses.
12.6.2006 12:35pm