Updated to Sept. 26, 2015
A lot has happened in the nursing social media world and I wanted to bring everyone who was working a 12-hour shift yesterday up to speed and didn’t get a chance to see what occurred.
Like many of you fellow nurses, I saw the beautiful monologue that Kelley Johnson, Miss Colorado, performed as the talent portion of the preliminaries for the 2016 Miss America competition. She spoke about her experiences as a nurse and one patient in particular who suffered from Alzheimer’s. It was quite touching and actually made me tear up.
If you didn’t have a chance to see it, here it is:
After the competition, nurses across social media were pretty pumped to see us so positively represented in such a large venue. It made me pretty proud, honestly.
As they do with many similar nationally televised events, the ladies of the ABC show The View talked about the contestants. They tried to make fun of the competition and competitors in their typically fashion. They were trying to make it funny, trying to poke fun, trying to get people to laugh.
What they said
They praised some contestants and poked fun at others.
Michelle Collins, initially commended the contestant who sang opera. She then stated (paraphrasing) that Miss Colorado came on stage in her nurse’s uniform and “basically just read her emails,” (then laughed) and that it was “hilarious.” Joy Behar’s initial reaction was, “why is she wearing a doctor’s stethoscope?”
Here is the link to the clip. It is very short:
How people reacted
Well, the nurses of America (and other countries as well) were not amused. Family and friends were not amused. Physicians were not amused. Additionally, (and potentially the most upsetting) loved ones of patients suffering from, or who had succumb to, Alzheimer’s and dementia were not amused.
It didn’t take long for it to catch fire on social media. Both “Joy Behar” and “NursesUnite” was trending on Facebook by the end of the day. The video clip from the episode of The View has had over 1 million views in 24 hours. A Facebook group entitled Show Me Your Stethoscope was created and had over 200,000 members in less than 24 hours (it now has approximately 800,000 members). The View’s Facebook Fan page had post after post of nurses issuing complaints and explaining their thoughts. If you follow more than 2 nurses on any social media platform, you’ve probably already seen that Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr are all flooded with pictures nurses, student nurses, CRNA’s, PA’s, NP’s, surgeons, CNA’s, CMA’s, and physicians from tons of different specialties in their stethoscopes.
Big advertisers started pulling their ads, posting on social media about how they respect and honor nurses. Such companies include Johnson & Johnson, Party City, Eggland’s Best, to name a view. It was pretty awesome to see such a big response from huge companies.
Dr. Oz did an entire show about nurses and filled the seats in his audience with nurses. He’s even issued a campaign to find a nurse to add to his panel of experts (#NurseSearch, #NurseNation)!
The Doctors did an episode called The Nurses and featured four different nurses (including my bud, Nurse Mendoza, the YouTube nurse!) and Kelley Johnson herself. So cool.
Was it really a talent?
The second half of the discussion online was if this monologue about her job was really a “talent” per say. Many contestants typically perform such talents as dance, vocal and musical performances as well as acting/dramatic readings/monologues.
Michelle Collins, one of the co-hosts, later tweeted (and subsequently deleted) the following:
From reading these tweets, I believe that Michelle assumes that all “jobs” are created equal and that it’s okay to make fun of people, regardless of how disrespectful it is, for the sake of comedy.
Just to clarify – they are not. And comedy/poking fun/making light of certain things does not mean you have license to say what you want, and when others are deeply offended you can just tell them to relax. That’s not how this works. That’s not how being a considerate and respectful human being works.
Nursing is a talent
I argue that nursing is a talent. Nursing takes talent. Furthermore, getting up on a stage in front of thousands of people and articulating a moving and profound experience in an eloquent manner takes talent. A talent in which I do not posses. You don’t think nursing takes talent and it’s just someone talking about their job? Is your job the most trusted profession in the country, “with top marks for honesty and ethics”?
If you’re not a nurse, you can’t say that it is.
Nurses care for patients that are dying, being born, slowly losing their mind, children that are suffering from cancer.. Nurses pronounce children and adults deceased and comfort the family. Nurses clean up patients that have lost all control of their bladder and bowels with respect and dignity. Nurses feed their patients before they feed themselves. Nurses take their patients to the bathroom when they themselves have not taken a bathroom break in 9 hours. Nurses drive to the homes of the dying to hold their hand and make sure they are comfortable. Nurses are in the military, caring for wounded soldiers right this very second.
Not just anyone can be a nurse. Just because you want to become a nurse does not mean you will become one. Getting into school is very competitive. It is a strenuous process followed by a really tough exam. If you land a job after graduation, it the followed by a very grueling on-the-job training process. Not everyone can handle it. Not everyone is cut out to be a nurse.
In short, nursing is not just a job. Nursing isn’t even a career. It is a calling. It is a lifestyle. It is who we are.
Stock brokers manage finances and talk to clients about what shares to buy and sell. I mean no disrespect to stock brokers, but a monologue about buying and selling stocks versus about connecting with a man who is slowly sinking into Alzheimer’s and proving care for him are two very, very different things.
What I believe should happen
After the episode on Sept. 15, Joy was pretty quiet about everything. However, Michelle hopped on Twitter and made some additional statements that were also insulting, and when you watch the clip you can see she spear-headed the disrespectful commentary.
A response (not an apology) was issued on The View but it was pretty disappointing/nonexistent. Apparently they felt we were not listening and are overly sensitive. The words “sorry,” or “we apologize,” etc. were never uttered. All 2.7 million of us that heard this apparently were “not listening,” as Whoopi Goldberg said it. The problem was that we were listening, intently.
I don’t know about you, but I felt like Whoopi Goldberg was scolding our entire profession.
There was even more backlash after this response on their show because it was so insincere. The next day, they had nurses come on stage and accept another attempt at an apology. Again, it wasn’t that awesome.
I believe The View should send those the hosts who commented (Michelle, Joy, Raven, and Whoopi) to a pediatric oncology unit and have them interview the parents about their nurses. Or send them to a surgical-trauma intensive care unit and see what the patients and families have to say. They should film their conversation and reactions. They should then follow a nurse in a busy nursing unit for a full 12-hours.
Katie Duke, do you need a few people to shadow you for one of your overnight shifts in NYC? Or how about Nurse Mendoza in his cardiovascular intensive care unit?
Here is a link to the first response to the social media backlash.
At least Michelle isn’t on Twitter telling 2.7 million nurses to relax anymore. Honestly, I’m a little more offended at this apology than the original comments. But, what can you expect? Making fun of people is how these women make a living.
Michelle, I did want to say something specifically to you in response to that tweet yesterday about nurses having hidden anger.
Nurses do not have hidden anger. We are passionate. We care deeply about our patients and become fiercely defensive when they and their experiences have been disrespected. This passion “is not a little funny” – it is necessary to appropriately advocate for our patients when they are being disrespected by individuals such as yourself. I pray that if you are in the hospital and need a nurse to advocate for you to a physician or a family member that they will be as fierce and unrelenting as the response has been on social media. Because you, as the patient, and your needs/well being are of utmost importance to us, regardless of what you may think of us.
Alas, the damage has been done. The way they feel about our profession and lack of understanding of the depth of what we really do was clearly not impressed upon them. I would be very interested to see what happens to their ratings after this issue.
The one amazingly beautiful thing to take away from this is that NURSES ARE UNITED. Mess with one and before you know it, 2.7 million are backing them. I was blown away at how amazing the nurses of the world are. I mean I knew we were awesome, but this was amazing.
I personally believe we should use this momentum to make necessary changes to our field. I believe that nurse to patient ratios should be legally mandated. I believe we have the power to facilitate this change. If you agree, please sign this petition to provide the collective power and support, that we provided Kelley, to our entire profession: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/provide-federal-legislation-nurse-patient-ratios
Go nurses! We can do this!
People doing it right in the media
Just in case this has left you with a bad taste in your mouth, I want to share two videos from celebrities that have a deep and profound respect for nurses.
Here is Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC talking about his recent experience with nurses:
And here is Tracy Morgan, talking about his experiences in the intensive care unit with his nurse when he was hallucinating and scared. He starts talking about his nurse specifically at about the 4:30 mark. Also, it’s impossible not to cry during this. I’ve watched it 10 times and cry every single time.
You’re awesome to me
In conclusion, I just want the 2.7 million nurses in America (and all of you international nurses as well!) to know that you are amazing. And I appreciate you and the care you provide your patients, even if a group of women making jokes doesn’t. And Kelley Johnson AKA Miss Colorado, thanks for your outstanding monologue. You make me proud to be a nurse.
I was personally offended at both the original comments and the subsequent “apology” – I did not watch The View at all before and will continue to avoid that show and the women that have chosen to host.