The internet exploded this week (or at least the part of the internet inhabited by nurses) when Joy Behar asked why Miss Colorado, a registered nurse, was wearing “a doctor’s stethoscope” with her scrubs for her talent portion of the Miss America Pageant. Hell hath no fury like a nurse scorned because the whiplash of outraged nurses across social media went viral like rhinovirus in a daycare center.

Respect Nurses

Nurses everywhere are feeling hurt by Joy Behar’s remark, which was perceived by many to be a slight on the profession. In a statement on the show on Wednesday, Behar admitted that she “didn’t know what the hell [she] was talking about” and the entire cast of The View professed their unending admiration for the nursing masses, assuring us that they only have the utmost respect for what we do for our patients every day.

She further explained that she only meant that she didn’t understand how nursing could be used as a talent in the famed beauty competition.

The Image of Nurses in the Society

Scrolling through Facebook, I see the hurt and resentment that many nurses are expressing, but I can’t help think that it isn’t really Joy Behar that we are so mad at. Perhaps she has become a symbol of how we think we are perceived by society as a whole. You know, the starched white uniforms standing by the doctor’s side, giving baths, and changing bedpans.

When the demanding husband snaps his fingers at us and says, “Miss! I’ll have a sandwich please”, we can’t just tell him what we really think about that request, but somehow instead, we muster up the Zen we need to say with a smile, “the cafeteria is open if you want to get yourself one” before tending to the urgent medical needs of his wife.

Don't Let Negative Comments Affect You

When Joy Behar uttered those words on live TV, she unknowingly struck a raw nerve that maybe none of us realized was so exposed until then. I understand the need to defend our profession as one that deserves respect, but Joy Behar’s barbed words only hurt us because we let them. These women are paid to sit around a table and gab about random shit no one really cares about for a living.

By contrast we save lives, and get shit on (both literally and figuratively) in the process. Their gossip is far too meaningless to carry any real weight in our lives and profession. The opinions they get paid to discuss are like the white noise that dulls the beautiful soundtrack of our world. Don’t let it become the main sound you are listening to.

We already know, our patients know, and the doctors we work alongside certainly know that a stethoscope belongs around a nurse’s neck just as much as any doctor. We don’t need Joy Behar’s validation to tell us how important we are to the medical system; we already get the validation that we really need from our grateful patients and their families.

So next time you hear an ignorant remark about nursing, remember all the times when you’ve kept your cool before, muster up the Zen and say with a smile, “I already know what a kickass nurse I am. Soon enough, you will too”.

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