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NEUROCRITICAL CARE NURSING The Stethoscope Drop Heard ‘Round the World by Michael Rogers, BSN, RN, CCRN We are nurses. It is both our job title and What started as fl ippant comments rooted in deep what we do in our line of work: we nurse our misunderstanding turned into an incredible platform for patients back to health. We nurture, aid, education, awareness, and reaffi rmation. The View invited Kellie care for, tend to, and watch over our patients Bryant, DNP and Larry Slater, PhD, RN from the NYU College of and their families. The very name of our Nursing to discuss the education and role of nursing. While Slater occupation describes what we do so it should stated that he could not speak for more than three million nurses not be surprising that many nurses’ identities currently licensed in the U.S., he did eloquently explain why are strongly tied to their work. We quietly Collins’ and Behar’s comments lead to such outrage. carry out our humble yet vital tasks and rarely fi nd ourselves in the limelight until someone Collins’ and Behar’s comments are symptoms of a greater public realizes how extraordinary our everyday actions can be. misunderstanding. While one incident is not enough to fi ll that knowledge gap, it served as an excellent start to increase awareness Kelley Johnson, a nurse herself, had one of these realizations of the expansive scope of practice and dynamic nature of nursing. while caring for a patient on an evening shift. When she entered Nurses work in a variety of environments: hospitals, clinics, the 2016 Miss America Pageant held this September, Johnson politics, law, education. Nurses can have associate, bachelors, and decided she would perform a monologue about her realization doctoral degrees. Nurses can come from myriad backgrounds, for the talent portion of the competition. Despite her supporters each one called to nursing for his or her own reason. I hope urging her not to perform the monologue and opt for a different Kelley Johnson inspires the women and men touched by her story talent (she also plays piano), Johnson stalwartly asserted that to join what is considered one of the most trusted and ethical nursing is her talent. professions. Johnson donned her scrubs and her stethoscope that she wears This all began with a story about a connection between a nurse every shift, and delivered her monologue. America listened to a and her patient. These stories help one get through diffi cult shifts story about “Joe,” a man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and and are important to celebrate. In this spirit, I want to share a how Johnson helped him realize that he is so much more than story of my own. just his disease, as he helped her realize that she is so much more than “just a nurse.” It was a beautiful moment for Johnson and Back in 2013, I cared for a woman in the ICU who suffered a resonated with nurses everywhere. subarachnoid hemorrhage. The injury left her aphasic, restless, and inconsolable since she was unable to communicate effectively. Johnson’s touching account connected with so many viewers that I spent most of my shift at her bedside, talking to her and her the video of her performance quickly spread on social media and husband about the disease process and what to expect but mostly news outlets, garnering more than six million views. Though she holding her hand. The day was a struggle for all three of us. I did not win the competition (she fi nished as the second runner did not see her again until two years later when she had a shunt up), Kelley Johnson accomplished something even more amazing: revision. I saw her roll down the hallway from the OR and into in rediscovering the meaning of her own work, she helped every her room on the unit. person watching understand the importance of nursing and our passion of helping our patients. She was not assigned to me but I helped her get settled into her room. I took her hand in mine and said, “You may not remember Well, almost every person. Following the competition, Michelle me but I took care of you the last time you were here on the unit.” Collins, a co-host on The View, remarked that Johnson simply Her eyes remained closed but tears started to form at the corners “read her emails out loud” during the talent portion. Collins’ as she replied with clear speech, “Michael?” At this point, it was equally ill-informed colleague, Joy Behar, delivered the fi nal sucker diffi cult to manage a “yes” so I squeezed her hand in affi rmation. punch when she asked why Johnson was wearing “a doctor’s stethoscope,” as nurses everywhere fi guratively and literally We are the voice our patients recognize after two years. We are clutched their own stethoscopes in horror. nurses. We wear stethoscopes. Kelley Johnson had inspired nurses with her vulnerability, her Michael Rogers, BSN, RN, CCRN is a neurocritical care nurse at the story of kindness, and remarkable human connection that UT Southwestern Medical Center Neuroscience ICU. He is an invited comes with caring for someone at their absolute worst. It was an guest writer for Currents. empowering moment for nursing as we repeated the mantra, “we are not just nurses.” When the co-hosts of The View spoke, their words might as well have been, “you are just nurses.” Johnson rekindled a fi re in the hearts of nurses everywhere and The View threw gasoline on it. The response was immediate and fi erce. Nurses took to social media, posting photos of themselves wearing scrubs and stethoscopes with pride. The wildfi re spread in the form of hashtags (#nursesmatter, #nursesunited, #nursesunite, #mytalentisnursing, #notjustanurse, and #nursesrock), creating a relevant and identifi able movement in support of nursing. And it was not only nurses. Doctors, therapists, nurses’ aides, patients, administrators, and members of the interdisciplinary team chimed in with photos, fi rst- hand accounts, and simple statements of support. Even advertisers pulled funding from The View. 17


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