When The View's Joy Behar and Michelle Collins mocked Miss Colorado 2015's entry in the talent section of this year's Miss America pageant, they had no idea they would touch off a firestorm.
Contestant Kelley Johnson--rather than playing piano or dancing as most pageant entrants typically do for the talent section--delivered a monologue dressed in the scrubs and sneakers she would wear to work on any day at her job as a nurse taking care of patients with Alzheimer's and dementia.
But Collins and Behar missed the point entirely, according to the New York Daily News.
"(S)he came out in a nurse's uniform and basically read her e-mails out loud. And shockingly did not win. I was like, that is not a real talent…I swear to God, it was hilarious," said Collins.
"Why does she have a doctor's stethoscope on?" asked Behar.
The pushback was fierce and immediate.
The hashtag campaign #NursesUnite sprang up on Twitter, and Pamela F. Cipriano, Ph.D., R.N., the president of the American Nurses Association, released a statement in which she called it "disturbing" that Behar would "use her national platform and influence to mock Miss America contestant Kelley Johnson for wearing a 'doctor's stethoscope' … as if Johnson were wearing a costume. Nurses don't wear costumes; they save lives."
Meanwhile, nurses all over the country have been "raising their stethoscopes" in "tweets" of solidarity with Johnson and others in the nursing profession. Here are just a few examples:
Colling and Behar both apologized, but the Daily News said that remarks have cost The View two major advertisers, Johnson and Johnson and Eggland's Best.
"I didn't know what the hell I was talking about," said Behar in her apology.
Johnson appeared on Ellen to discuss the controversy, People reported. "I'm a nurse and that's my talent, taking care of people, caring about other people," she said. "If I'm ever going to win Miss America or win Miss Colorado I want to do it being myself, and I'm a nurse."
There are more than 3 million nurses working in the U.S. and despite the perception that they are "doctors' handmaids," they are healthcare's frontline, patients' primary caregivers and the primary conduit of information for each patient and their family about treatment and condition, according to Lifezette.
They also are the healthcare workers most likely to face violence in the workplace, suffering attacks from patients who are intoxicated or disoriented. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also said that nurses suffer one of the highest rates of workplace injuries, particularly back and neck issues from lifting and moving heavy patients without proper assistance, leading to new initiatives to safeguard against such incidents.
"Nurses ... are multi-taskers: supporting, coordinating and inhabiting all of these roles at once. And they are lionhearted diplomats, helping a patient die with dignity in one room, facilitating a recovery in the next, keeping their composure even when they are shaken to the core," wrote Alexandra Robbins in an opinion piece for the Washington Post. "And by the way, nurses use stethoscopes more often than doctors do."