An Internet-based reality show about nurses made its debut Wednesday in a bid to improve the image of the profession and attract more nurses to California.
The show, "13 Weeks," started Webcasts on www.nursetv.com. It follows six nurses recruited from across the nation as they live in a rented $10 million mansion, go surfing and sky diving in their spare time and work in hospitals in Orange County -- home of MTV's reality show "Laguna Beach" and the hit Fox TV drama "The O.C."
The show was the brainchild of San Diego-based recruiting agency Access Nurses as part of efforts to resolve a desperate shortage. California will soon implement a law that mandates one nurse for every five patients in most hospital wards.
Alan Braynin, chief executive officer of Access Nurses, wants to sell the show to television and hopes it will do for the nursing profession what the 1980s TV show "L.A. Law" did for the legal profession.
"We want to change the perception of nurses as older women who just change bedpans and show people that this can be an exciting lifestyle," Braynin said.
Other hospitals and agencies are trying to bring nurses to California -- where wages are the highest in the nation at an average of $33 an hour -- by offering gift cards of up to $200 and direct-mail ads.
According to California's Economic Development Department, the state faces a shortfall of more than 109,000 registered nurses by 2010.