Nursing

An Open Letter to Joy Behar

As many of you have seen, Miss Colorado delivered a beautifully spoken monologue about nursing during last week’s Miss America pageant. Recently, on The View as the pageant was discussed, Miss Colorado’s scrubs were referred to as a costume, and Joy posed the question of why she was wearing a “doctor’s stethoscope.” Below is my now calmed down reply to all of it. Additionally, I would like to personally and publicly congratulate Kelley Johnson RN on her chosen talent, it is one that will reward you forever. 

Dear Joy Behar,

A beautiful woman in a beauty pageant put on baggy clothes and humbly walked across the stage to talk proudly about her career, and her passion for caring for other human beings, and the only thing you and your co hosts could muster in response were insults grounded in ignorance.

Rather than being offended or getting angry, I will instead, take a moment to teach.

I am a big believer that the first step in resolving ignorance is education. So allow me, for a moment, to educate you.

The stethoscope is a medical device used to auscultate (that means listen to) the inner workings of your patient. (read; heart, lungs, and bowel)

Doctors do this when they examine their patient.

So does the Respiratory Therapist.

The Physician Assistant.

The Nurse Practitioner.

And the Nurse.

The average patient in the hospital will be examined by their doctor every 24 hours. The Respiratory Therapist likely stops by at least every eight hours. And the nurse, she or he is probably in the room hourly, with that stethoscope on the chest and abdomen at least every four hours. In the ICU this occurs hourly, at minimum.

By unwritten laws of use-equals-ownership, it seems to me that maybe it should be called a nurse’s stethoscope.

But that isn’t necessary, because in the hospital we know how to share. We know that we each play a role in taking care of that patient, and as a result, we just call it a stethoscope.

I encourage you and your cohosts on the View to learn more about nurses and to teach your viewers the same. To begin, there are close to 3 million of us in America. By numbers, we make up the largest proportion of the health care team. Well over half of us are women, although this trend is quickly changing.

Remember how I said the doctor may only see a patient once in a 24 hour period? They are able to do that because they can trust the nurses to assess (there’s that stethoscope again) in their absence, and alert them of any issues that may arise. If you have questions when the doctor leaves the room, your nurse will answer. If you are afraid your father is disoriented when you leave each evening, don’t worry, the nurse and the nursing assistants will gladly keep him calm, comfortable, and safe.

Your hospitalized child is suddenly unable to breathe? Gasping, coughing? Don’t worry, the nurse will listen, the respiratory therapist will listen. The doctor, will run from near, or maybe very far; to assist and make a plan. But while they are on their way, you will be very glad someone else in the room knows how to use that stethoscope!

A woman in a beauty pageant put on baggy clothes and walked on stage to talk about her job, and all that a woman who is paid to sit at a table and gab could come up with was insults.

That wasn’t a sad moment for nurses. It was a sad moment for women, and I for one, am embarrassed, not angry. As a supposed advocate for women, I just ask that you learn and you choose your words more carefully before attempting to degrade and minimize the work of millions.

Because despite your lack of understanding and your silly remark, we will be ok.

Because like other formerly quiet groups in America, we nurses are finally finding our voice.

We are the people who not only listen to the heartbeat of people you love, but it is our work that personifies the heartbeat that America was built on, exemplifying the caring, compassion, and selflessness that we need more of in this country.

This is our voice, and there are 3 million of us that you will not be able to keep quiet.

Warm wishes,

Kateri

2,411 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Joy Behar

  1. I have been an RN for over 23 y. My stethoscope is as important to me as my pen in my work day. It hangs around my neck just as one may wear a necklace to work. It is essential to my job. Many times a Dr has asked to use mine bc he/she didn’t have one. I have used it to take a blood pressure on a woman in labor,a new born baby fresh from the womb,a critical patient in CCU and to pronounce a dying patient in hospice. All without the assistance or presence of a Dr. . We don’t get the notoriety ,fame or salary of a Dr but we work extra hard to keep our patients alive,safe,comfortable,reassured and informed. Their lives are our priority and our reason for choosing this profession. We work long hours,see things we might wish we never had to witness but we are proud and dedicated to service . For those who maintain ignorance and do public speaking you don’t take away from what we do every day and night you simply discredit yourself and your reputation. If you do it in humor… it’s not funny,at all. You owe your guest a public apology ,the profession of nursing an apology and for your own sake to educate yourself on careers that require training,educating,caring and compassion. Not just to sit at a table for an hour to gossip and criticize others misfortune. That is not journalism or comedy in my opinion.

  2. As a wife and mother, I would like to add that I, too, have a stethoscope, a blood pressure wristlet. A thermometer. twizzers, and an assorted array of other items including pain killer, allergy, and gastrointestinal over the counter meds in my house. I am no nurse, but it’s always good to be prepared. When my children lived at home and I cared for my now nursing home husband, these items came in quite handy ….. We are all nurses in some way. You should be, Joy. Go get some emergencies supplies, and don’t forget that stethoscope.

  3. Awesome letter !! I applaud you !! Eloquently written !! Beautiful job ! Thank you for speaking up for we Nurses ❤❤ God Bless You !! 💜

  4. I’m proud of you sending that letter to Behar. I’m a son of a retired nurse. My mother was a Nurse as was her mother was a nurse. Also I have 2 aunts, 1 was a nurse, then went to the profession as a stay at home mom, and I have 1 aunt that is still a nurse in her late 70’s. My daughter is in college now getting her study’s done and will be applying for nursing school next Fall. Thank You for your Service.

  5. I am not a nurse, but I use a stethoscope as well. I am a Dental Assistant. It may seem silly (maybe to Joy Behar, perhaps even to others) that Dental professionals would ever use a stethoscope… and not all do, but we are encouraged to. It is important in any health profession to know how to use one, and how to recognize the signs of a condition that may have gone unnoticed. That stethoscope may stop an oral surgery procedure that would have otherwise triggered a heart attack in the dental operatory. Sometimes patients are sent home or even recommended to go to the hospital due to their blood pressure, as proceeding with scheduled treatment wouldn’t be appropriate. So thank you, nurses. And thank you, really, to anyone that uses a stethoscope in their profession. Shame on the ladies of The View. I didn’t watch their show much to begin with, but I certainly won’t be after their comments.

  6. Good letter, and calmly, thoughtfully written. Sometimes, people do not think before they speak and/or they think they are being funny when they just seem ignorant.

  7. I have been an R.N. for 11 years and truly love what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything. I think our next step should be to have millions of nurses unite in the front of the View studios in our scrubs..and of course our stethoscopes!

  8. I am not a nurse, but my cousin is and has been for over 30 years. She is my hero and I have always strived to be as good a person as she is. I am not as smart or as strong as she is and wish I could do what she has done. I am so proud that she is related to me and I am very glad that nurses all over America have called Joy Behar on her ignorant comments.

  9. Nurses go to college and take state exams to be able to practice nursing. What education do you, Joy Behar, have to sit behind a table and insult others. We have been learning from our Pastor though his sermons to our congregation , Stick and Stones do hurt…you in only a couple of words insulted not only her natural beauty but her intelligence and showed your stupidity. Sad… Sad… think before you open your mouth next time….

  10. Joy Behar is one irreverant, ignorant and rude woman. She calls herself a commedienne. Not happy that she is back with all those yappy women on The View. Never watch it because of all the chatter and interruption by the co-hosts. The letter to Behar was excellent. Hope she can understand the big words.

    RN in Ontario,Canada

  11. I think you’re offended over nothing. Behar didn’t know she was a nurse and has an obvious record of supporting women in general, so how anyone could draw the conclusion that she was putting nurses down is beyond me.

  12. Beautifully written. Although I have not worked in my chosen profession of nursing for the last 20 years, I still consider myself a nurse after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1976 and working 20 years in the profession. Since I left nursing to raise my 4 sons I have continually been involved in caring for my extended family members either @ their bedside or with other nurses, doctors, social workers, therapists etc. I have battled breast cancer 3 times and been hospitalized for numerous other health issues. I could not imagine what that would have been like if there were not nurses taking care of me. I would ask everyone to please BOYCOTT the VIEW. Joy Behar is being paid what millions(?) while nurses make a fraction of that working 12-14 hour shifts on weekends, holidays etc. Nurses save lives. How would the doctor know what was going on unless a nurse alerted him? Is he sleeping on the floor where a patient resides? We wear baggy clothes because we are bending. lifting,, pushing and getting blood, urine, feces and vomit on our clothes. What is Joy Behar wearing after she goes through hair and makeup? I disliked her even before she made this comment. (I only read about it online-I never watch that show) I was disappointed when I heard they were inviting her back. She is not a comedian. She is a vicious self righteous, sarcastic spoiled _____. Fill in the blank. . .

  13. Thanks for your letter Kateri. I feel however, that this group of so-called “enlightened women” will never read your well-thought-out comments. They are too busy nursing their ugly hearts and souls. It is true, they are an embarrassment to not just women, but anyone who can align coherent thoughts. Their M.O. seems to be, if we can out shout you, we are smarter. Well, they are wrong again. I fail to see their importance or popularity. Any woman of integrity does not fall for this nonsense. Again, thank you for your intelligent comeback, however lost it may be on those it was intended for.

  14. Great letter Kateri and thank you for responding. I have been a nurse for 60 years and one of my prize possessions was a stethoscope given to me by my students one semester. Although I spent much of my career in public health there was always a need for a stethoscope for example when visiting a newborn or prenatal at home/ Currently at age 83 I write books, lecture, and recently started a Holistic Cancer Foundation.so the stethoscope has been put away but I am occasionally on the other end of it when receiving care from a nurse practitioner.

  15. At this time there ate a lot of hospitals that experience a shortage of nurses and other health care providers. I am not a nurse, but a volunteer in a hopitsl and see what a magnificent job these health care providers are doing for their patients and their families. We would be dier straits if we would be without them, because we are also experiencing a Doctor shortage. The Nurse is on the front line of taking care of patients, so honor them not make fun of them.

  16. very well said. A very important part of my “costume” was my stethoscope. I ended up buying a purple stethoscope because the doctors kept taking my black stethoscopes. My stethoscope with a very important part of my “costume” as my therapeutic area was cardiac. Thank you for your most well written response. Sandy F. RN, BSN

  17. Tried to leave a comment, but y’all said my email wasn’t real! Well I’ve had the same email for 9 years, y’all are the first to reject it!! Just wondering why!!!!

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