Why I Couldn’t Sleep When I Heard About the Miss Colorado/“The View” Controversy
by Rachel, Seattle area RN
As I was perusing Facebook one night last week, almost ready for bed as I had to work at 7am, I came across an article that caught my eye. I almost didn’t click on it – I thought to myself, “You’ll spend another five minutes reading this article, and then miss out on five minutes more of sleep, which probably isn’t worth it.” I’m already not a morning person, so I try and get all the sleep I can before a grueling 12 hour shift that starts at 7 am.
But I couldn’t help myself, and so I clicked. What I read kept me awake for the next three hours, unable to fall asleep due to sheer anger and disbelief. The article was from USA Today, and was titled “Advertisers pull ads from 'The View' following nurse comments”.
Now, I would be shocked if at this point you are a nurse and you haven’t heard of this incident; I learned about it a mere week after it happened, and I felt that I was already very late to the game. But for those of you that haven’t, I will keep it short and simple – Two of the hosts of The View made fun of Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson for her talent performance during the Miss America Pageant.
Kelley, in her scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck, wrote and performed a very touching monologue about an Alzheimer’s patient she had taken care of. Not only did Michelle Collins essentially claim that what she did was not a talent, Joy Behar felt the need to chime in by asking why she was wearing a doctor’s stethoscope.
As you can imagine, the nursing community erupted; the infamous Facebook group Show Me Your Stethoscope started shortly after the incident and now has over 810,000 followers. Social media has been flooded with nurses exclaiming their disgust for the comments, support for Kelley Johnson, and their hopes that the show gets cancelled.
Multiple sponsors have shown their support and respect for nurses by pulling their ads from The View. The hosts quickly realized their mistake and have made public apologies, even going so far as to bring nurses on to the show so their audience can see how much The View values and appreciates what nurses do. However, The View’s attempt at “making nice” with the nursing community and possibly reigning back in some of those sponsors didn’t quite do what they had hoped. To put it bluntly, people are still pissed.
I am one of those people. As I said, I read this article and was so angry that I could barely sleep the remainder of the night. I went to work the next morning still thinking about it. And over a week later, I am still thinking about it. I keep asking myself what it is about the whole situation that makes me so mad. As nurses, we are constantly faced with people who truly have no idea what we actually do. I’ve heard dozens of comments -- even some from my own friends and family -- that suggest our primary responsibility as nurses is to help patients use a bedpan or change their diapers.
Sometimes, I will laugh it off or politely correct them on what we actually do. Other times I just won’t say anything because I just don’t have the energy. But what The View hosts did on that Monday morning was mock a fellow nurse for her very genuine way of actually telling the public what we deal with in our job. They put their ignorance and naivety on public display, all at the expense of a nurse who very bravely told a story that was obviously very emotional and meaningful to her; because in their mind, that isn’t a talent.
I would love for Michelle Collins and Joy Behar to walk a day in a nurse’s shoes. I want them to try and pass a dozen meds to one patient while drawing stat labs on another. I want them to do six rounds of chest compressions and see how their arms feel afterwards. I want them to try and comfort a wailing mother who just arrived at the hospital to find out her 22 year old son is brain dead after a car accident. I want them to titrate multiple vasoactive drips on a critically ill patient, all with an empty stomach and full bladder. Because if they did, they would understand how hurtful and insulting those comments they so innocently made were to not just Kelley Johnson, but to all of us.
Larry Slater, a clinical assistant professor at NYU College of Nursing, was one of the nurses invited on The View following the controversial comments. I think he put it beautifully when he said, “For thirteen years running, we’ve been listed as the most honest, ethical and trusted profession out there. But sometimes we don’t feel like we’re the most respected.”
That, I believe, is all we are asking for as we do our job day in and day out. We do not need recognition; we already know that what we do is life changing, and we don’t need anyone to tell us so. We do not ask for sympathy; we bare the burdens of our job quietly and without complaint, because we know what we signed up for when we took the job.
Respect, on the other hand, is a different matter. Not only do we need this, but we demand it. The View has shown us that their respect for nurses is shallow, if they have any at all. It can be a hard thing to give, and a very easy thing to lose.
Michelle Collins and Joy Behar have lost all of my respect, and the respect of thousands of other nurses as well.