As you are no doubt aware, the co-hosts of the popular daytime talk show “The View” recently made some disparaging remarks about Miss America contestant Kelley Johnson and the nursing profession. The response from nurses has been amazing and we shared 20 of the best responses in a recent blog post. In this blog post, we share an open letter written to The View by Katy Shindelus, RN who was kind enough to let us share it here. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
The following is my response to the negative comments made on The View yesterday about Miss Colorado, who gave a monologue about nursing for the Miss America Pageant.
Dear Ladies of The View,
I’m saddened by the comments that were made on your show this week ridiculing the Miss America contestant from Colorado. I’m not surprised that there are people who don’t understand the broad range of knowledge and skills required to be a nurse. My own husband was shocked when he learned what nurses do when we first started dating. So instead of getting angry I figured I could enlighten you.
I’ve been a nurse for 9 years, most of which have been spent in the ER. I have worked in two states, three countries, and over ten different hospitals. Like many nurses, I feel passionate about my job despite it’s long hours, physical demands, and stressful situations. I feel nursing is my calling. It’s often exhausting but so unbelievably rewarding that I cannot imagine doing anything else.
We wear scrubs because they are light weight, loose, and comfortable. Their purpose is to keep me cool when I’m literally sweating because I’m so busy running around for 12 straight hours. They allow me to be flexible when I’m squatting down emptying full catheter bags, leaning over beds to slide patients from ambulance gurneys, or turning obese or elderly people. I can’t tell you how many times each day I slide a patient up in bed to make them more comfortable, or turn them to change their soiled sheets or to prevent them from getting pressure sores when they can’t move themselves.
Those scrubs allow free movement so I can lift an obese leg while it is being casted, help transfer a frail or elderly person out out of a wheelchair or onto a bedside commode, and to run through the hospital when there is a code blue. On top of all that, they are made to get dirty. I’ve gotten just about every bodily fluid imaginable on me while trying to help those in need. If you haven’t yet realized, nursing is not a glamorous job.
My “doctor’s stethoscope” is used to help me to adequately assess and protect my patients. When my patient has a low blood pressure and the doctor orders IV fluid to increase their volume, it is my job to identify if that patient’s heart cannot handle that increased volume. I must be able to hear the sounds of fluid backing up in someone’s lungs. When someone has a bowel obstruction, it is my job to insert a nasogastric tube through their nostril and into their stomach. I use my stethoscope to confirm placement and ensure that tube has not gone into their lungs instead.
I use my stethoscope to make sure the breathing treatment I am administering for the patient with shortness of breath is working. Are you aware that a stethoscope is necessary to take a manual blood pressure? We can’t always rely on the machines. In 9 years of nursing I have never once seen a doctor take a blood pressure. These are just a few examples of the many things I listen for during every shift and rarely is the doctor present when I am doing them.
Doctors are brilliant, no doubt. But they need nurses to keep their patients safe. Nurses are the ones who are expected to know how the patient is doing at all times throughout the course of treatment and are the ones who notify the doctor when there is a concern.
Just this week I had a patient whose situation didn’t seem particularly concerning based on the triage note. However, once I assessed her I recognized she was in trouble. I notified the doctor who went in to see the patient right away. Sure enough, that patient went in for emergency surgery and I know I helped speed that process along.
While volunteering at a hospital in Haiti, a colleague and I kept an infant live by manually inflating his lungs with an ambu-bag after his breathing tube became dislodged. We kept him alive while someone went running throughout the compound in search of a doctor who would reinsert the tube.
I have brought a patient back to life by doing chest compressions, have reversed the effects of a stroke by administering clot busting medication, have cried over patients getting devastating news, have had nightmares about patients we could not save. I have been yelled at, swung at, spit at, and was once almost shanked had a police officer not acted quickly enough to protect me. I’ve had days where I didn’t get a single break in 12 hours, one job so stressful that I had heart palpitations during the time I was employed there, and days when I’ve left work feeling defeated. But I’ve also had days when I’ve known without a doubt that I helped save a life. Days where I know my actions made a positive impact.
However, the thing that is so sad about the comments made on yesterday’s show is that not only were they ignorant, but you actually ridiculed a nurse who wanted to share the emotional side of nursing. She wasn’t trying to brag about the extent of her knowledge or skills, she was sharing a deeply personal experience that made all the difficult parts about being a nurse worth it.
We all have those stories, and lots of them. I once had a patient in the ER for whom family, along with the medical team, decided no more could be done and it was time to pull the plug. The family could not bear to watch their loved one die so they left the room. The doctor was also too busy to stay. I was also busy but could not imagine leaving this person to die alone in an empty hospital room. My coworkers realized this and took care of my other patients while I held the dying patient’s hand and stayed with her until she took their last breath.
I can only hope that if you ever find yourself in a situation where you require any type of medical attention, that you are lucky to have a nurse who feels as passionately and cares as much about you as Kelley felt about her patient or as I have felt about mine.