Miss Evers’ Boys is a wonderful movie, which focuses on many aspects at the same time – racism, healthcare, love, sacrifice, devotedness, passion for life, and many others. Even though it is rather old (the film was released in 1997), it is still very valuable, since nurses as primary healthcare providers can take a lot out of it, as well as other people can. If to refer to healthcare in the movie, one can pay attention to the nurses, the violation of nursing standards, attitude to the government’s actions, and patient population.
The primary role of the nurse in the movie is providing primary patient caretaking blood samples and ensuring the satisfaction of basic patient’s needs. The very first minutes of the film show that Miss Evers and Dr. Sam Brodus examine a boy who has trouble breathing. The doctor makes the decision, but the nurse suggests her ideas about the condition and possible interventions to save the child’s life. The nurse also wipes the boy’s forehead from sweat, consoles him, telling that the doctor will find the way to help him breathe, and assists Dr. Brodus in the intervention to take out the liquid that did not allow a child to breathe properly.
Another duty of a nurse, as a health care professional in the movie, is delivering the information to the patients in the easy words. There is an episode where Dr. Douglas tells the black men coming to give their blood samples about the condition, its development, cause, and outcomes (Benedetti, 1997). The doctor uses professional medical terminology and simple laborers cannot understand anything, as they do not have the knowledge the doctor has. The duty of Miss Evers, as a nurse and a person who is closer to the patient population, is to explain with simple words what Mr. Douglas says. Although it is not her direct duty, the nurse does so in order to establish amicable relationships with the participants of the study and make them trust the healthcare professionals.
One more role that a nurse performs in the movie is consolation. Eugene Evers feels her primary duty to calm the patient, bring peace to his mind, help him go through everything that will happen to him, and make this person believe in recovery, even though she knows that he is on placebo. In the movie, a nurse was the one to support a dying person in the last minutes of his life. Miss Evers demonstrates compassion, patience, devotedness, persistence, and humanness.
Since the film deals with healthcare and shows the role of nurses in medical care, one can trace the adherence to nursing standards. Even though nurses perform their duties in a proper way, some of the standards that all healthcare professionals, including nurses, must adhere to are violated. The problem is that the patients are not informed about being part of the experiment. Moreover, they are told that they receive special medical treatment, when, in reality, everything they get is placebos and liniments. All nursing standards nowadays forbid involving people in the experiment before the treatment or needed tests are done on the animals and without obtaining their informed consent. The consent is actually obtained, however, it is not informed. The patients participating in the experiment know that doctors need to take their blood to determine whether they have the disease or not, but no one tells them that some sort of research is conducted with the use of their results and medical histories. Nowadays, every patient involved in the study needs to be informed about the purpose of research, methods, interventions, and privacy issues. Even if the scientists just monitor the state of patients without making them or medical staff undergo (perform) any procedures or take any medications, they still are required to inform all participants about the study.
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In the movie, the nurse (Eunice Evers) and both doctors (Douglas and Sam Brodus) agreed that there is no need to tell people about the participation in the experiment and even the disease they had, in order to prevent excessive anxiety, fear, and, more importantly, refusals from participation. All patients are told that there could be something with their blood. In fact, it is a good thing to avoid mentioning syphilis, as people could have spread panic. However, according to the practice and standards of modern nursing and medical ethics, patients need to know what is wrong with them and what disease they have. The information should be delivered to them in a manner that is easy to understand, just the way nurse Evers does, however, she omits telling them all the truth. Concealing the real state of things, medical professionals try to prevent panic, but, in reality, they violate nursing standards regarding obtaining informed consent. Miss Evers knows that if the boys get to know what they are really involved in, they will refuse to participate.
Another violated standard refers to doing the needed medical procedures. Black men that participate in the study rub the liniment into each other’s backs, when, in fact, it is the duty of a nurse as a primary healthcare provider. However, this violation is totally acceptable for that time (the action takes place in 1932 (Benedetti, 1997)), as there are not enough nurses to perform this procedure and Miss Evers seems to be the only person who controls the whole process and explains how everything should be done. Doctors just determine what to do and observe the interventions.
Doctor Brodus mentions another standard that is violated by the Government’s decision – do no harm (Benedetti, 1997). The Government can find the money for life-saving injections, but it decides to make experiments on people – deprive them of treatment to learn how they react to the disease, but the patients do not know that they are not treated.
Miss Evers violates one more nursing standard – no personal relationships between the healthcare provider and the patient. Eunice Evers does not object to going out for a date with one of her patients, Caleb Humphries. In reality, that kind of behavior can be observed nowadays as well, since nurses spend much time with people they take care of and, as a result, might become attached to them. Even though Eunice and Caleb’s relations do not prevent Miss Evers from performing her primary duties, the nurse cannot be objective in the treatment of her patient, since her personal interests are involved. As it is known, doctors rarely participate in the treatment process of their close people, as their emotions can affect their decisions.
The approach chosen by the Government was rather negligent. It started the program, but in the middle of an experiment decided to cancel it due to the lack of financing. It is what usually happens. The situation was extremely dangerous and almost epidemic. In the neighborhoods, where around 80% of inhabitants are Negroes (Benedetti, 1997), the Government decided it is the problem of black people. The crash in the financial market turned out to be more important than the health of millions of people.
More astonishing thing is that the Government did not have the money for the treatment of people, but it had the money for conducting the study, similar to one conducted in Oslo. People that initiate the study in the movie say that they want to know whether black people react to people the same way as whites do, even though Dr. Brodus supposed that they react the same way. The reply is that it is important to know the truth. Therefore, one can assume that it is more important for the government to make a great scientific discovery than actually save people’s lives.
The Oslo study conducted before focused on sick people without any interventions, as there was no cure known to people at that time. The Government decided to make the same research, whereas it could involve some treatment options. The discovery of racial differences became more important than curing people. Doctors conducting Tuskegee Study thought that in six months or a year, the Government would give money for treatment, but nothing happened, and when Penicillin became another available treatment option, the Government still did not take any steps to support people’s lives, as it needed to learn their reaction to syphilis. When the study was no more needed, the Government declared to be “outrages and intolerable” (Benedetti, 1997), but on no occasion, it acted for people. Even though the Government offered free treatment to those who survived the study and some financial compensation to the families of deceased people, it is still responsible for neglecting the problem before.
The patient population in the movie is quite interesting. The most noticeable thing is the patients’ passion for life. One of the participants left to get Penicillin shots, another developed his own “medication” and the third just believed and danced all his life. Their belief in what doctors did and trust to Miss Evers helped them go through what they were exposed to. All the participants were simple laborers, but, in many cases, they demonstrated that they were more caring than people responsible for it.
To conclude, Miss Evers’ Boys is a thought-provoking movie. In terms of healthcare, one can notice how many dilemmas the characters faced and what decisions they made. Moreover, the movie is valuable for its educational function. Nurses can learn many things from Miss Evers. The character performs her duties as a nurse very well – she is devoted, professional, compassionate, caring and eager to help, even sacrificing her interests. In addition to it, the film shows how some nursing standards, such as obtaining informed consent, forbidding experiments of humans, doing no harm, and having no personal relationships with the patients are violated. The Government’s actions require some attention, as well as they show the attitude to African American people at the time shown in the movie. The government’s deeds were ignorant, indifferent, and outrageous. The patient population, in contrast, is presented as full of devotedness, beliefs, and kindness.
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