Yet another celebrity has put her foot
in her mouth and peeved off an entire profession.
I couldn't decide if I wanted to let
First a Miss America contestant stands
up on stage and gives a monologue about being a nurse as her 'talent'
portion of the program.
I didn't see this. I did see the posts
on Facebook but didn't bother watching it. Seemed like a whole lot of
blah blah – how sweet – blah blah. (I did finally watch this, before writing this essay which is why I am posting the link.)
Next some women on a daytime talk show
attack said contestant, questioning her performance of a monologue as
an actual talent, questioning her profession as an actual talent,
commenting on her 'costume'.
I didn't see this either. In fact, I
had no idea what was going on until I got to work this morning and
was shown the subsequent Facebook page in support of said profession.(I did finally watch this. Although it wasn't easy, without morning coffee and a gun to my head. Which is why I am NOT posting the link to that site. Outside of the Today show, I have no use for morning talk shows.)
Then I got tagged in numerous posts
regarding this incident and suddenly found myself defending the
supporters in the midst of a discussion over being overly sensitive
and too easily offended.
And last, as expected, the talk show
mouths put forth something they called an apology but really sounded
more like a slap in the face and an accusation of inability to take a
I DID see this little gem.
And then I spent three hours reading
posts on the supportive Facebook page.
Because I am a nurse.
I am not a nurse who considers her
profession a 'talent'. Although I have worked with many nurses who
truly could make this claim.
I do know a little bit about writing
and performing my work in public. THAT is a real talent and the Miss
America candidate should be congratulated for not only giving a
unique performance but doing so on a beauty pageant – but we are
really a scholarship program – stage.
It seems that the women on The View
questioned why the contestant was wearing a 'doctor stethoscope' on
her 'costume' and was simply reading emails.
These comments sent the nursing world
into a frenzy.
Which is why it was suggested to me
that maybe we as a profession was being too sensitive.
Well, world, let me explain.
That 'doctor stethoscope' probably cost
the nurse wearing it at least half a 12 hour shift's wages.
Stethoscopes are not provided. We have to purchase them and good ones
cost a lot of money. We buy good ones because the patient and the
doctor are counting on us to really HEAR what is going on in heart,
lungs, grafts, bowels. Many times we are the first to hear changes
and report our findings to doctors who are trusting us to do just
this very thing.
That 'costume' is called scrubs. And
guess what – they are usually not provided either. And, shocker,
they are not very cheap. We have worked hard to wear those navy blue
pajamas. (Some of us worked really hard to wear those white dresses
with matching hose and caps!) But in a way, those scrubs are a
costume. Because when we put those clothes on we leave behind our
families and our friends and for 8-10-12+ hours we do things we never
imagined: hold pressure to stop bleeding, insert hoses in orifices
that should never have hoses inserted into, compress hearts to make
them start beating again. And again.
That 'costume' gives me the strength to
NOT cry as I listen to a woman my age lament the fact that she has
been told she won't live another year, leaving behind her children,
who are the same age as mine. That 'costume' gives me the strength to
understand it's out of fear that an irate family member gets in my
face and curses me because they do not like the outcome of their
loved ones diagnosis.
But shedding that 'costume' does not
mean I leave those things behind at the end of my day. Everything I
experience in my scrubs becomes another stitch in the fabric of me.
Some days those stitches begin to unravel and I wonder if I am just
going to fall apart. Yet in the morning I get up and pull my scrubs
on and those stitches pull tight for another day.
Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson, performed
a monologue about her experiences as a nurse. Her monologue was not
'emails'. Click here to watch. It was an essay. And my guess is, it was written as part of
a professional nurse development program at her place of employment.
A professional nurse development
program is just what it sounds like. It is a way for nurses to develop themselves as professionals. At my hospital that program
requires at least one essay be written a year. The theme of those
essays revolves around what the nurse has done to improve a patient's
experience through care they have provided. This is only a portion of
I have watched many nurses who
participate in this program take real ownership of their careers.
The women on The View touched a nerve
by singling out these things in an attempt to be topical and funny.
This is a Facebook page which, in less
than 24 hours, has gained over half a million members. Not just
nurses, but doctors, EMT, paramedics, respiratory therapists,
students and all the other members of the healthcare team.
All in support of nurses.
Which leads me to the folks who
suggested that nurses were being too sensitive; that perhaps why is
it worse to insult a nurse?
It is not any worse to insult a nurse
than to insult a politician or a sports figure or a television talk
show host. Taken at face value, the comments made on the View were
just silly, poorly crafted attempts to be topical and cutting edge.
Why has the nursing community reacted
There is the real question.
I can only speak for myself here.
I did not become a nurse as part of a
calling. I became a nurse because I knew it was a dependable job
which paid well. There have been many days, especially after 30
years, that I wonder if I had been 'called' then maybe these days
would be easier somehow.
I am proud of what I have done as a
nurse. But not because I AM a nurse. I am proud of the strength I
have found within myself to do things I never thought possible; see
things which are un-see-able; connect with people whom I would never
have met in any other life. I have learned as much about myself as I have learned about medicine.
The nursing profession has changed in
so many ways, for better and for worse. We have more responsibility
than ever before. We care for sicker patients. We work longer hours.
We are active participants in meeting the ever more difficult
criteria for financial reimbursement to hospitals: keeping
readmission rates down, keeping infection rates down, keeping patient
I feel nurses and the nursing
profession are hitting a critical point.
And the women on the View made a fatal
error in attacking one of our own.
We have allowed society to make jokes
at our expense for years – the nurse on the soap opera who is
scheming to catch a doctor, the 'sexy' nurse costumes at Halloween,
the vindictive Nurse Diesel and Nurse Ratchet. Not to mention the
millions of raunchy 'head nurse' jokes out there.
But we know those things are just in
fun because we know that those things are not completely real. Of
course there are nurses who marry doctors, there are nurses who are
'sexy', although none of them wear ridiculously short skirts with
crinolines, and as tempting as it might be, we do not act
And we probably tell way dirtier jokes
than the general public can imagine.
But, women of the View, you attacked
So we are going to post photos of
ourselves proudly wearing our stethoscopes. We are going to post
silly memes. We are going to dissect every word that has been said.
When you need medical care we will provide it to you, reprimand free.
Although we may make a joke and ask you how to use our stethoscopes.
And tomorrow we will return to work a
little stronger and a little prouder.
Because we are more than just Nurses.
|Thirty years ago|
For more thoughts on nursing click HERE or on the It's a Living link above.