An Open Letter to Joy Behar – By Kateri Allard, RN
As many of you have seen, Miss Colorado delivered a beautifully spoken monologue about nursing during last week’s Miss America pageant. Recently, on The View as the pageant was discussed, Miss Colorado’s scrubs were referred to as a costume, and Joy posed the question of why she was wearing a “doctor’s stethoscope.” Below is my now calmed down reply to all of it. Additionally, I would like to personally and publicly congratulate Kelley Johnson RN on her chosen talent, it is one that will reward you forever.
Dear Joy Behar,
A beautiful woman in a beauty pageant put on baggy clothes and humbly walked across the stage to talk proudly about her career, and her passion for caring for other human beings, and the only thing you could muster in response was an insult grounded in ignorance.
Rather than being offended or getting angry, I will instead, take a moment to teach.
I am a big believer that the first step in fixing ignorance is education. So allow me, for a moment, to educate you.
The stethoscope is a medical device used to auscultate (that means listen to) the inner workings of your patient. (read; heart, lungs, and bowel)
Doctors do this when they examine their patient.
So does the respiratory therapist.
The Physician Assistant.
The Nurse Practitioner.
And the nurse.
The average patient in the hospital will be examined by their doctor every 24 hours. The Respiratory Therapist likely stops by at least every eight hours. And the nurse, she or he is probably in the room hourly, with that stethoscope on the chest and abdomen at least every four hours. In the ICU this occurs hourly, at minimum.
By unwritten laws of use-equals-ownership, it seems to me that maybe it should be called a nurse’s stethoscope.
But that isn’t necessary, Joy, because in the hospital we know how to share. We know that we each play a role in taking care of that patient, and as a result, we just call it a stethoscope.
I encourage you and your cohosts on the View to learn more about nurses and to teach your viewers the same. To begin, there are close to 3 million of us in America. By numbers, we make up the largest proportion of the health care team. Well over half of us are women, although this trend is quickly changing.
Remember how I said the doctor may only see a patient once in a 24 hour period? They are able to do that because they can trust the nurses to assess (there’s that stethoscope again) in their absence, and alert them of any issues that may arise. If you have questions when the doctor leaves the room, your nurse will answer. If you are afraid your father is disoriented when you leave each evening, don’t worry, the nurse and the nursing assistants will gladly keep him calm, comfortable, and safe.
Your hospitalized child is suddenly unable to breathe? Gasping, coughing? Don’t worry, the nurse will listen, the respiratory therapist will listen. The doctor, will run from near, or maybe very far; to assist and make a plan. But while they are on their way, you will be very glad someone else in the room knows how to use that stethoscope!
A woman in a beauty pageant put on baggy clothes and walked on stage to talk about her job, and all that a woman who is paid to sit at a table and gab could come up with was insults.
That wasn’t a sad moment for nurses. It was a sad moment for women, and I for one, am embarrassed, not angry. As a supposed advocate for women, I just ask that you learn and you choose your words more carefully before attempting to degrade and minimize the work of millions.
Because despite your lack of knowledge and your silly remark, we will be ok.
Because like other formerly quiet groups in America, we nurses are finally finding our voice.
We are the people who not only listen to the heartbeat of people you love, but it is our work that personifies the heartbeat that America was built on, exemplifying the caring, compassion, and selflessness that we need more of in this country.
This is our voice, and there are 3 million of us that you will not be able to keep quiet.
About The Author
Kateri Allard is a Registered Nurse living in New York City, trying to find herself “in a balance between Florence Nightingale and Carrie Bradshaw.” She received her Associate of Applied Science in Nursing from St. Joseph’s College of Nursing and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Le Moyne College, both in Syracuse, NY. She has worked in Pediatrics, Neonatal Intensive Care, and finally, Pediatric Intensive Care, which she calls her “true love.”
Her “Open Letter…” appeared on her personal blog, According To Kateri, yesterday, and we are honored to republish it here with her permission.
Photo of Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson via Facebook