The November segment about weight loss featured six women wearing high heels, retro nurses' caps and white dresses with red lingerie peeking out. The women danced briefly with series host Dr. Mehmet Oz and the audience.
Sandy Summers, executive director of the nonprofit group The Truth About Nursing, called the segment demoralizing and demeaning to nurses. She has launched a letter-writing campaign encouraging others to protest it.
"Many people look to Dr. Oz for reliable health information, and he should teach them who nurses really are, and be part of the solution to the nursing crisis," she added.
American Nurses Association spokeswoman Joan Hurwitz also criticized the segment.
"It's disappointing in terms of a show like 'Dr. Oz' using that kind of sexist caricature of nursing," Hurwitz said. Fighting media images that belittle nursing is an "uphill battle," she said, adding, "with a physician, I guess we would expect more."
Hurwitz suggested Oz and his show highlight examples of the innovative work nurses are doing to foster preventative care and their crucial role in the changing health care system.
In a statement Monday, the show apologized for any unintended offense and promised, "We will do better in the future."
Summers responded by calling for an on-air apology and said the show about health should work to expose media distortions that undermine efforts to create robust, well-funded nursing ranks.
The "Dr. Oz" segment featured guest Angel Williams, who attributed her weight loss to dancing. Williams announced she would "get sexy" and unbuttoned the top of her outfit to show her red undergarment as she invited Oz to dance with her. Five other women in similar costumes joined with Williams, Oz and the audience in a few steps.
None of the women are believed to be nurses, a "Dr. Oz" spokesman said. In its statement, the show said it was sorry for "any hurt feelings."
"Dr. Oz has worked alongside extraordinary nursing professionals throughout his medical career and holds nurses in the highest regard as they save lives and heal patients," the statement said. "Any attempt at humor should never call into question Dr. Oz's utmost respect for the nurses with whom he works and has lauded in other shows."
The Truth About Nursing, http://www.truthaboutnursing.org
American Nurses Association, http://www.nursingworld.org
"The Dr. Oz Show," http://www.doctoroz.com