In the aftermath of the Miss America contest on September 13 and Miss Colorado’s talent monologue on what it is to be a nurse, there has been a volume of comments on her choice to represent the nursing profession in this venue. Kelley Johnson, RN, shared her experience on television with the judges and national audience about an Alzheimer’s patient, Joe, and their nurse/patient relationship. Her eloquent, thoughtfully presented story of their mutual personal understanding of the other’s roles gave a dignity to Joe that he was able to comprehend. He in turn thanked Kelley for recognizing that in spite of his frustration with Alzheimer’s, he was “still Joe” and there was dignity in maintaining his identity. The monologue brought a largely positive response across the media about nursing. The audience’s and the medical profession’s reaction to the nurses’ empathetic monologue has swelled to a positive proportion and verbal gift to our profession that she could not have foreseen.
Disappointing to me, a retired nurse and daily fan of The View, was the panel of some of the hostesses’ negative and sarcastically joking comments the following day and again on the next Wednesday, about nurses and Miss Johnson’s choice to not do the usual entertainment talent known for the Miss America contests. Have the panelists or their family never been cared for by a nurse? A baby’s birth; an elderly’s parent’s comfort; a guiding light through a maze of tests and medical-speak? Joy Behar and Michelle Collins have since clarified their comments, but only in a thwarted effort to dispel the audiences shocked reaction to damage done.
The trite attitudes displayed on the panel towards nursing only served to demean themselves, and to do so on national TV was shameful.