In a widely public move that’s since gone viral, Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson threw the competition for a loop at the Miss America pageant last week by delivering a autobiographical monologue for her talent, which is nursing. In it, she addressed her career and one of her patients, a man with Alzheimer’s. You can watch that clip of her monologue here.

We were a bit surprised when we heard about the unusual choice here at The Scientific Parent, but we applaud her for rocking a good cause with her nationally-broadcast airtime. The public backlash surprised us, though; particularly when the topic was taken up by The View. The women, who typically spout off about a variety of topics (with very little filter) joked that it sounded like Johnson was reading from her emails, and co-host Joy Behar asked why she was wearing a “doctor’s stethoscope.” If you need to see the video to make your own judgment call, you can click here. Needless to say, the comments prompted internet outrage and also a handful of their sponsors to promptly dump their support of The View, and quickly.

I’m not into pageants and I’m not a nurse, but I know plenty of nurses who work incredibly hard, so I posed the question to three of them – what do you think about Johnson’s choice to use nursing as her “talent,” and the ensuing nonsense from The View?

The first thing I thought of was how this is grown-up bullying. Why do we as humans get so much pleasure and feelings of superiority by belittling others, particularly those who are different from us? Yes, Miss Colorado’s talent was not typical. It was kinda out there. Honestly I felt like it was risky, at least in the world of pageantry.

When I initially saw the clips, I was thinking of her talent as more like her ability to speak, to write, to communicate a story in a compelling way. That was the talent I saw. Maybe she was really thinking of nursing as her talent, as she seemed sincere, but I didn’t think of it that way. Nursing is freaking hard work! Many times it’s under-appreciated, and it’s never glamorous. Health care professionals see people at their worst, and it takes a lot of patience and compassion. It’s really just being in touch with your humanity and realizing that we all need help sometimes. It’s true that some people don’t have those strengths.

Julie Vass, RN

Julie Vass, RN

Unless we die in a tragic accident or quickly, most of us will need nursing care at some point in our lives. There are around 3 million nurses in the United States. Do they have a talent the other  nearly 400* million of us don’t? Again, it’s a strength, maybe a calling for some, but it’s certainly not a talent for all. Some nurses aren’t great, just like some teachers and lawyers and businessmen aren’t great at what they do. So maybe she felt like she’s one of the special ones, and so for that reason, I do think it’s cool that she did it.

Back to bullying, though; the response of some nurses was not exactly charitable. I read a LOT of mean-spirited spite directed at the ladies of The View, and of the choices they have made in life. They certainly displayed a real ignorance of how the health care system works, considering their maturity and the fact that some of them must be mothers who have dealt with nurses for more than just their own personal healthcare. But, I don’t watch the show. I never have. I’m pretty ignorant about these ladies and the usual content of the show. And I try not to judge others based on my life choices.”

Julie Vass, Board-Certified Maternal-Child Registered Nurse

“Nursing is a talent and a well-respected profession by most. It takes a very special person to be a nurse. As for a monologue in the Miss America pageant- I never really cared for the monologues in general, whether they be about nursing or not, but to each their own. I think The View disrespected our profession and the contestant, and the media blew it out of control as they do everything. Their [The View’s] apology is not sincere. I honestly think it’s all dragged out. There are more important things to worry about in the world than the viewpoints of those ladies.”

– Anonymous, Registered Nurse

James Morgan, DNP-BC

James Morgan, DNP-BC

“You want my view on “The View’s” comments about nursing?  See what I did there? I can be a sub-par comedian too…but being a nurse takes so much more. Ms. Behar’s comments clearly come from a misinformed and blissfully ignorant individual, and the backlash that she’s gotten hopefully has, in a way, taken Ms. Behar to “nursing school.”

Now onto more important subject matters, Nurse Kelley. She is not only beautiful on the outside, but I think she’s a beautiful soul as well, just like everyone who pledges themselves to a life of scrubs and takes on the nursing title. To be clear, I am not a big supporter of pageants such as Miss America, where you compete on having to look and act a certain way, many times superficially, so you can be judged by another person based on what modern day society sets as “perfection.” This is not what I’d call my idea of setting an example for our children. However, what Nurse Kelley did during the “talent” competition has made national headlines because she did something both courageous and talented at the same time. Her speech showed just a small glimpse of what nursing is like and how rewarding it can be, regardless of what nurses endure on a daily basis. It is my hope that everyone who crosses the threshold of any medical facility regardless of acuity or chronicity will be able to be taken care of by someone that has the same love and compassion for the profession and for mankind, like Nurse Kelley exuded in her speech.

– Dr. James Morgan, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified/Adult-Gero Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

*The “Doctor” in my title is because I have my doctorate degree in nursing and I am a board certified nurse practitioner…so does that mean I need a different stethoscope now?

So that’s our take, readers. At very least, nursing has a profession has gotten some good publicity out of the incident, and producers of The View have since had their cast issue on-air apology for what they said about Johnson (though some of their sponsors aren’t having it). In the meantime, don’t forget about your medical support system, doctors, nurses, assistants, and techs alike – they work hard to support us when we’re at our most vulnerable. And whether you consider it a talent or a profession, it all can make such a huge difference in our lives. Shameless plug for the nurses in our lives: thank your nurse today!

*Typographical error fixed since the original posting.

Categories: Policy, Politics, + Pop Health