More than “Just A Nurse”

How often have you heard a nurse referred to as “just a nurse” by either themselves or somebody else?

When a nurse identifies themselves this way, perhaps it is because they are being modest, because let’s face it- most aren’t really in the profession for praise or recognition. They inherently know their value to patients and as part of a healthcare team but are generally not egotistical.

But what about when another person says it?

Over the past few years, there have been several memorable media stories where nurses have essentially been referred to as “just nurses”. Understandably, nurses, as well as the general public, have taken great offense in these cases because they come across as devaluing and disrespecting the nursing profession as a whole.

Perhaps the most highly publicized story came about during the 2015 Miss America Pageant. The uproar began when hosts of The View unabashedly mocked Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson’s talent portion of the Miss America Pageant. You see, not only was Johnson Miss Colorado 2015 (and went on to be 2nd Runner Up of the Miss America Pageant), but she also happened to be a proud registered nurse.

Kelley Johnson had no idea of the controversy she was going to spark by taking a unique approach to the talent portion. Forgoing the usual heels and gown or revealing costume, Johnson wore scrubs and a stethoscope and spoke solemnly from her heart as she performed an original monologue.

Ms. Johnson told the poignant story of an Alzheimer’s patient she cared for named Joe. Joe asked Kelley several times about changing his medicines or treatments and Kelley responded, as many nurses do, “No, I can’t, I’m just a nurse.” At one point during his care, Joe was upset, scared and crying. Kelley held his hand and comforted him, telling him he was more than “just his disease.” Joe responded, “Nurse Kelley, that that goes for you too. You are not ‘just a nurse’.”

Mocking from The View hosts came the morning after the pageant. Host Michelle Collins chided “…She came in in a nurse’s uniform, and basically read her emails out loud,” while host Joy Behar asked, “Why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope on?” and made fun of her “costume”.

It didn’t take long for #nursesunite and #showmeyourstethoscope to almost bring down social media as support for nurses from across the globe shone through. Despite the unfolding events, Johnson stated afterward the experience had truly been “a blessing in disguise.” The incident garnered the public’s attention and support of the many knowledgeable, professional and caring nurses who work hard every day, often without thanks, to positively impact the lives of their patients.

In the end, the hosts apologized, but The View lost major sponsorship. The message was loud and clear: nurses are much more than “just nurses”.

Nursing is a hard job physically, mentally, and emotionally and not everyone is strong enough to take on such a demanding role. Oftentimes, such as in homecare, a nurse may be the only person the client sees on a regular basis. In cases like this, the client depends on their nurse to meet more than just their physical needs; a nurse is someone they can talk to, someone who will listen to them, and someone who cares about them. Sometimes a nurse is the only lifeline a client has to the outside world.

If you ask a nurse why they chose their profession, it is unlikely they will tell you they do if for the money. The job is simply too hard to justify the pay. Instead, they will tell you they do it because they care about people and want to help them.

Because after all, nurses are not “just nurses”; they are healthcare providers with a passion for improving the health and quality of their patients’ lives.

It’s as simple as that.

For more information on home care palliative care services, contact UNS today at 1-800-334-5140 or email [email protected].

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