Medical Update – Just A Nurse

9-18-2015 4-45-47 PMThere has been a lot of controversy in the last couple of days concerning Joy Behar’s comments on The View about the nursing profession. Facebook has “blown up,” and in a good way. Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals have come out of the woodwork in support of nurses.

In the 2016 Miss America pageant, Miss Colorado was a nurse named Kelley Johnson. While other contestants sang, danced, played instruments or demonstrated other talents, Kelley told a story about being “just a nurse.” She came out on stage in her scrubs, stethoscope around her neck. She told of a patient called Joe who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and experienced night terrors. She spoke of calming him by sitting with him and holding his hand. She relayed how he wanted to talk, and asked her about changing his treatments and medications. She responded, that no, she couldn’t do these things because she was “just a nurse.” But she was able to connect on a different level, a more personal one.

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They would talk about her volleyball, his grandbabies, and they enjoyed a lot of laughs together. One night she found him crying. She told him she understood that it was hard, but that he was not defined by his disease, his life was not “just Alzheimer’s,” that he was still Joe. His response was beautiful. He said “Nurse Kelley then the same goes for you. Although you say it all the time, you are not just a nurse. You are my nurse, and you have changed my life because you have cared about me.”

Nurse Kelley’s story highlighted that you are not just a room number, a diagnosis, but first and foremost you are a person, and you have a family and friends. She didn’t want to be a nurse that pretends. Joe reminded her that she was a lifesaver, and would never be “just a nurse.”

The cohosts of The View were discussing this story, and their tones were mocking. Joy Behar asked the question “Why does she have a ‘doctor’s’ stethoscope around her neck?” This ignited one of the most viral social media campaigns to date. There are approximately 3 million nurses in this country, and many of them have come out against this offensive comment by Behar.

We have told thousands of stories about patients, our jobs, and have banded together. It has amazed me. As nurses, we often “eat our young.” There is sometimes an attitude of one department being better than another (i.e. Emergency department nurses being better nurses than floor nurses). But suddenly, the bickering has stopped. Rather than fight amongst ourselves to try to prove something, we have banded together. We have united.

And it’s not just the nurses. Doctors are backing us up, explaining how they couldn’t do their jobs if we didn’t do ours. It has been amazing to see this, and in my opinion Joy’s words followed the “law of unintended consequences.” Her comment was made in mockery. But just like in the story of Joseph in the Bible, the Lord took the comment that was meant for evil and has used it for good instead.

The nursing profession is a special one. There are days that are hard, in which we hold our bladders for hours on end to make sure that our patient has the best possible care. We put off caring for ourselves so we can care for others. But make no mistake, we love what we do, and we make a difference every day.

I’d like to share here the comment I also posted on my Facebook page:

I am a #nurse, and proud of that fact. I didn’t become a doctor because I didn’t want to, not because I am not skilled or talented enough. I became a nurse because I wanted to change people’s lives the way I have been able to over the last 4 years. I have been the first hands to touch a newborn baby, and the last to touch the dying. I have spent countless hours on my feet, day in and day out, even on some days when I’ve been sicker than some of my patients. I don’t wear a “doctor’s” stethoscope. I wear MY stethoscope. It is one of my most important tools.?#?JoyBehar?, I think you owe us all an apology. #?nursesunite? ?#?justanurse? ?#?TheView?

One of my favorite comments came from Dr. Jeffery Hallazgo, and this is what he had to say:

Standing proudly beside my nursing colleagues from a very proud long time Emergency Department (and now Urgent Care) physician, unashamedly wearing around my neck the badge of honor of caregivers everywhere. To the yentas on that worthless program The View, Michelle Collins and Joy Behar, you have poked the bear. You have awoken the sleeping giant. (And as a result, you have sh*t the bed.) GIVE ‘EM HELL, GANG! #NursesRock

So, I say with pride, I am “just a nurse.”
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN