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March 25, 2016

Nursing Students Address Miss America’s Nursing Flap

Controversy arose from a surprising part of ABC’s Miss America telecast last September—the talent segment, in which Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, while wearing scrubs, delivered a heartfelt monologue about nurses being under-appreciated.

The next-day mocking criticism by Joy Behar and others on ABC’s The View led to some sponsors pulling their commercials—notably Johnson & Johnson, which has been running TV campaigns supportive of the nursing profession since 2003.

Though Johnson spoke movingly about Joe, an Alzheimer’s patient who made her realize the importance of being a nurse, Behar mocked her for wearing a so-called doctor’s stethoscope and Michelle Collins sneered that she “basically read her emails out loud.”

Nursing majors Genna Giordano, Amanda Krakoff and Meaghan Lynch were among those expressing opinions when asked about that contestant’s performance and the aftermath.

Recalling discussions she and classmates had, Lynch said, “Although the opinions of the women on The View bothered us, I did not take it personally. As a student in such a rigorous program, I know the amount of work that goes into becoming a nurse.”

She agreed with Johnson that “nurses truly are under-appreciated simply because most people have no idea of just how much nurses are responsible for, and how often nurses go beyond those responsibilities.” She added, “While Joy Behar may never know the weight of carrying a patient’s life in her hands, or how to use a stethoscope, she will also never know the true joy that comes with nursing.”

Lynch observed, “A hospital can be a lonely place, especially for patients with no family or friends, or a patient going through a difficult disease like Miss Colorado’s patient, Joe.”

In Lynch’s view, “Nursing is a talent, one not easy to show others on a stage like a song or a dance.”

Agreeing with that, Krakoff added, “I thought the contestant’s monologue was touching and definitely something I could connect with.” She and her classmates “felt offended for the Colorado contestant,” Krakoff said, “because we all know how hard it is to be a nurse.”

She added, “I was disappointed at Joy Behar’s reaction in saying she was wearing a ‘doctor’s’ stethoscope. Nurses play such a huge role in medical care and their comments only proved that nurses are under-appreciated.”

However, Giordano was less upset. “To be honest, I didn’t think much of it,” she said. “This is a common stereotype that nurses face.”

In any case, she felt, “People generally don’t go into nursing for the glory or the recognition. You need to have the confidence in yourself as part of the medical team to know that you make some kind of a difference.”

The View barbs were a topic of discussion among her classmates but, Giordano said, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry than worrying about someone’s offhanded ignorance.”

This piece appeared in the Spring 2016 Transfer Students Newsletter.

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