Beauty pageants are known for a talent section where contestants usually sing, dance or twirl to show off their talent in the hopes of winning first place.
This year, Miss Colorado did things a bit differently at the Miss America pageant.
She came out dressed in nurse’s scrubs, a stethoscope around her neck, and spoke of her career. She talked about being a nurse and helping others, and she read emails from those she had helped.
Her choice of talent was mocked by the women of The View, with Joy Behar scoffing at her wearing a “doctor’s stethoscope” around her neck.
Nurses everywhere quickly reacted, and Johnson & Johnson pulled any support they had with The View, stating, “Johnson & Johnson values and appreciates nurses, and we respect the critical role they play in our healthcare system. We disagree with recent comments on daytime television about the nursing profession, and we have paused our advertising accordingly.”
I don’t know if Joy Behar realizes how hurtful and demeaning her comments were, or if she, as comedians do, was simply working for a laugh and in this instance it backfired greatly.
I do know there is something wrong with our society when we view singing as a greater talent than saving lives—when we will mock a nurse for daring to be proud of her career and the good that she does.
Nurses were and are outraged, with many boycotting The View, posting selfies in their uniforms, stethoscopes proudly displayed in a sense of community and unity.
I too was outraged. Although I am not a nurse, I am a daughter of a nurse, and for over 20 years I have seen the impact my mother has made on the lives around her.
Nurses are all too often overworked and under-appreciated. They skip bathroom breaks and sneak snacks. They must somehow be the medical hands so desperately needed, while also being the shoulder for the family to lean on and the housekeeper when the room is too cold or sheets need to be fixed.
It is with that stethoscope that they listen to a baby’s lungs. It is with that stethoscope they are able to reassure a family member that their loved one is breathing alright. I couldn’t imagine if they had to wait for a doctor each time a stethoscope was required; it would be a long and unproductive wait.
My mother is a NICU nurse, meaning she works with the premature babies—the ones not quite ready to be born. I have watched her rejoice when a 26-weeker is finally strong enough to go home; I have seen her tears when a baby that was just too frail—too weak—passes away. I can remember her being sequestered in her hospital during a hurricane, so she could be there for the babies.
Two years ago I experienced how important nurses truly were when my own daughter was born prematurely, and I now was the one who had to rely on nurses.
It was a nurse who helped me hold my daughter for the first time, although I was lucky that nurse was also my mother. Nurses would be the force that guided my husband and me through those weeks at the hospital. Nurses who fed, bathed and watched out for my daughter. When my daughter turned blue, and I, unable to deal, fled the hospital room, it was again my mother the nurse who took care of her.
Nurses are all too often taken for granted, or overlooked as the help until the “real” medical professional arrives. I believe these comments were so far-reaching and resulted in such backlash because, unfortunately, they are nothing new.
Nurses deal with people believing they chose a nursing career over becoming a doctor because it was easier, while others see nurses as just biding their time until the rich doctor marries them. Male nurses deal with ridicule for choosing a career viewed as a “woman’s job,” and all nurses are too often seen as a doctor’s assistant instead of a capable part of a medical team.
If any positive comes from Joy Behar’s comments, I hope it’s an education on what being a nurse truly means and all the good they do in the world around them.
As a nurse’s daughter, and a mother of a patient whose life depended on the nurses around her, I can state with absolute certainty that nurses—especially great ones like my mother, and Miss Colorado—are rare. These nurses are diamonds in the rough—true gems to admire and revere.
As a society, we must work to end uneducated opinions of nurses and start recognizing the good they do—often unseen and unrewarded simply because it is their job.
Author: Michele Genzardi
Editor: Toby Israel