Many of the nation’s nurses understandably erupted in anger when the co-hosts of ABC’s The View mocked Miss America contestant Kelley Johnson for her pageant-night monologue about being a nurse — and for wearing scrubs and a “doctor’s stethoscope” (their words) in the talent competition. The co-hosts, Joy Behar and Michelle Collins, have since apologized, especially for implying that only doctors use stethoscopes. “I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about,” Behar later said.
It would be easy to attribute this episode solely to the ignorance of some TV personalities, but as most nurses know, the problem goes far deeper. The fact is that much of the nation doesn’t really understand nursing, either.
It’s true that the public rates nursing in Gallup surveys as the most honest and ethical profession. Yet it’s unlikely that most Americans understand the range of critically important roles that nurse’s play across the health care continuum, from health promotion, prevention, and research, to palliative and hospice care.
How many Americans know that patients who obtain organ transplants will have far more contact with – and obtain more hands-on care from – a transplant nurse than a surgeon? Or that two-thirds of all anesthetics given to US patients are delivered by certified registered nurse anesthetists, rather than anesthesiologists with medical degrees?