‘A Special Calling:’ A Nurse Responds To Bashing By ‘The View’ Co-Hosts

19 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Advertisers leave ‘The View’ amid Miss America controversy.

The View’s Joy Behar made a surprisingly ignorant comment about nurses this week during a discussion of the Miss America pageant. In light of the recent controversy surrounding co-hosts Michelle Collins and Joy Behar’s comments regarding Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson’s Miss America monologue about being a nurse, The View brought out several special guests on Friday to further hit home the importance of nurses. “When you think about how nurses are perceived and you look at the Gallup poll, for 13 years running we’ve been listed as the most honest, ethical, and trusted profession out there.

Miss Colorado (Kelley Johnson), dressed in scrubs and wearing a stethoscope around her neck, gave a heartfelt monologue about her work as a registered nurse. But sometimes we don’t feel like we’re the most respected,” said View guest Larry Slater, clinical assistant professor from NYU College of Nursing. “Nurses come to the forefront a lot during times of tragedy, with the countless amazing women and men who have saved lives after 9/11 or Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, or the tsunami in Asia in 2004, or the military nurses on the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Added Slater, “The truth of the matter is that there are countless heroic nurses and countless Kelley Johnsons that are impacting lives every minute of every day without so much as a whisper.

The View co-host Michelle Collins didn’t find the monologue moving, and mocked Johnson for “basically read[ing] her emails out loud” in Wednesday’s show. Behar was incredulous, asking why the nurse was “wearing a doctor’s stethoscope.” Behar apologized the next day, but not before the #NursesUnite hashtag had caught fire on Twitter and the American Nurses Association had issued a sharp rebuke; advertisers Johnson & Johnson and Eggland’s Best have also pulled advertising from The View.

Her colleague Joy Behar added, “Why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope on?” There was an eruption of outrage at the comments on social media, with nurses and others circulating the hashtag #NursesUnite to show support for Johnson. They’re doing it because of their passion and their love and the impact they can have on those they care for.” Co-host Collins said that she “really didn’t understand the challenges facing nurses,” and acknowledged the necessity of improving the public’s perception and appreciation for the profession. “I’ll be honest I think the comments made Monday kind of played into that, and I’m sorry about that. We disagree with recent comments on daytime television about the nursing profession and we have paused our advertising accordingly.” Behar attempted to salvage the situation somewhat on Wednesday’s show, telling the audience that she was “used to seeing [the contestants] in gowns and bathing suits. For her talent, Johnson donned her nursing scrubs with her stethoscope and recited a monologue which revealed her work with an Alzheimer’s patient that she helped to overcome night terrors. The problem with Behar’s quip, though, isn’t that it’s dumb (although it is!), but that it’s revealing of a persistent misapprehension of how health care actually works.

However, the two companies announced they were dropping their commercials from the ABC talk show after receiving requests from healthcare professionals. In the story she told she kept describing herself as “just a nurse”—as in, she couldn’t order different medications for the patient because she isn’t a physician. For decades, physicians and nurses have been working together and continue to provide the best care possible for patients by working as a cohesive team.

In her monologue, her patient calls her out for repeatedly diminishing the value of her job, telling Johnson that she would never be “just a nurse.” The phrase “just a nurse” has a long history in nursing and grates on most of us. In the 1800s, small hospitals were founded in many communities by a local nurse who became a community leader and created a place for patients to seek medical care. Johnson, the second runner-up at this year’s competition, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss the monologue, saying she was happy to be “able to bring all those nurses together and have everybody standing up for our profession and giving them the voice that they deserve.” Many nursing leaders in the 19th century were the first ones to create academic programs all around the country, educating men and women in the art and science of nursing care.

That means that in many people’s minds, nurses’ work is somehow always subsumed into doctors’ work, to the point that the tools we use—such stethoscopes—end up being perceived as property of doctors. Doctors usually aren’t the ones sounding the alarm when a patient starts going downhill fast—that’s what nurses do, because we’re there on the ward and it’s part of our job. What I believe is that celebrity talking heads lack the education and knowledge to make appropriate comments and relate to real, true everyday events.

Certainly, they are more interested in their own fame and ratings than they are about encouraging young Americans to join the profession of healthcare work. Health care workers, which include doctors, nurses, technicians, and people that run the everyday operations of hospitals like electricians, custodians, carpenters, painters, food servers and countless others, work quietly behind the scenes to keep us healthy. I have sat in a patient’s room, dressed head to toe in latex, slowly injecting a very toxic chemotherapy drug into a patient’s IV line that goes straight into a major vein. Millions of these people are proud to wake up every day and go to work, sometimes making modest economic earnings so that they can sustain their families. I wish any of my children would become nurses because it would make me very proud to know that their character is built on goodness, faith and the devotion to heal.

While I know that my words are unlikely to reach celebrities and other famous people who appear on your television, I would still like to send a very important message reminding us all that we will at some point in our lives, require the care of a kind nurse. I was a new nurse the day I was double-checking a chemotherapy order and realized that the ordering physician had written it based not on the intravenous dosing of the drug, but the intrathecal dosing—the lower dosing that goes into the brain.

Before I could explain that I was new and might have misunderstood, he snatched the order away from me and said, “I’ll fix it.” This is all in a day’s work, and in general nurses are not looking for undue recognition—they just want credit where credit is due. Discussions about nurses’ work environment, nurse staffing, the ubiquity of bullying (doctors against nurses, nurses against each other) in hospitals—they’re all seen as peripheral to real discussions of what plagues health care.

Whether you call nurses the backbone of our health care system or the spokes in the hospital wheel, strength only comes from strength, and our policy makers—and our cultural commentators—need to understand that and take nurses’ professional needs seriously. One day, I would love to see an inversion of Kelley Johnson’s story: A patient asks a physician a question, and the doctor responds, “Oh, I’m just a doctor.

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