Dr Manny's Notes

Dr. Manny: Do not denigrate our nurses

Sept. 13, 2015: Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson delivers a monologue during the talent portion of the Miss America Pageant at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Sept. 13, 2015: Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson delivers a monologue during the talent portion of the Miss America Pageant at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  (Reuters)

Health care workers are constantly being criticized and scrutinized by today’s society. From politicians, lawyers, consumers and even celebrities, the American health care system and all of its members take beatings every day. While we are trained to shrug it off and get on with our work, this latest episode, featuring Michelle Collins and Joy Behar of ABC’s talk show “The View,” has crossed the line.

On Sunday, Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson was competing in the 2016 Miss America pageant. For her talent, Johnson donned her nursing scrubs with her stethoscope and recited a monologue which revealed her work with an Alzheimer’s patient that she helped to overcome night terrors. For the ladies of “The View,” this showing from Johnson—who by the way graduated as a valedictorian from Grand View University— was obviously not a great enough fete.

“But then there was a girl who wrote her own monologue, which I was like, ‘Turn the volume up, let’s listen,’” Collins quipped. “And she came in a nurses’ uniform and basically read her emails out loud, and shockingly did not win.”

Behind Collins appeared a picture of Johnson during the competition, wearing her purple scrubs with her stethoscope around her neck.

“Why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope around her neck?” Behar asked.

Ms. Behar, allow me to answer your ignorant question about a “doctor’s stethoscope” with a quick lesson in the history of the medical profession.

The history of American nursing is a noble one. For decades, physicians and nurses have been working together and continue to provide the best care possible for patients by working as a cohesive team. In the 1800s, small hospitals were founded in many communities by a local nurse who became a community leader and created a place for patients to seek medical care. Many nursing leaders in the 19th century were the first ones to create academic programs all around the country, educating men and women in the art and science of nursing care. Because of those hardworking and courageous women, hospitals were constructed and doctors followed.

A hospital cannot be a hospital without a nurse, and a doctor cannot be a doctor without a nurse. A stethoscope is not a doctor’s trophy, it belongs to the medical profession and is proudly used by all of its members. To denigrate the nursing profession by inferring that a doctor is more valued than a nurse is both insulting and cruel – especially when considering the millions of Americans who are cared for and healed each and every day by our communities’ nurses.

Behar tried to walk back her comments, claiming she did not recognize Kelley’s scrubs as a nursing uniform. I don’t believe that. What I believe is that celebrity talking heads lack the education and knowledge to make appropriate comments and relate to real, true everyday events. Certainly, they are more interested in their own fame and ratings than they are about encouraging young Americans to join the profession of healthcare work.

Health care workers, which include doctors, nurses, technicians, and people that run the everyday operations of hospitals like electricians, custodians, carpenters, painters, food servers and countless others, work quietly behind the scenes to keep us healthy. Millions of these people are proud to wake up every day and go to work, sometimes making modest economic earnings so that they can sustain their families. Ladies of “The View,” don’t belittle their honor.

I wish any of my children would become nurses because it would make me very proud to know that their character is built on goodness, faith and the devotion to heal.

While I know that my words are unlikely to reach celebrities and other famous people who appear on your television, I would still like to send a very important message reminding us all that we will at some point in our lives, require the care of a kind nurse. Why wait until our lives are in their hands to recognize the good work they do? America, let’s start thanking our nurses now by joining the #NursesUnite movement.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.