Did you read it? — “An open letter to The View’s Joy Behar and Michelle Collins”

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

Closeup Female Nurse

When Miss Colorado stepped onto the stage in her scrubs and spoke about nursing, we celebrated her. She didn’t sing, she didn’t dance, but we were riveted—partly because the experience she described is one every nurse (in their own way) understands, and partly because it’s one that most of the world simply can’t.

So, if you ask us, we think that the talent she chose to share was the complete package. Hosts ofThe View, however, disagreed, failing to recognize the compassion, resilience, wisdom and skill that caring for another human being requires.

But here’s the thing about publicly offending a representative of a fiercely loyal and passionate community: You tend to get a lot of backlash. Hence, this letter, which was written by the daughter of a nurse, Elizabeth A. Colombo, Esq., who signs off as “Disheartened and Disappointed in New Jersey.”

Eloquent and highly personal, it’s perhaps the perfect response to the hosts’ blatant belittling of the profession:

Dear Ms. Behar and Ms. Collins, 

I come from a medical family of nurses and doctors (yes, I put the nurses first). You clearly need some educating, so allow me to tell you about a nurse who is near and dear to my heart.

My mom has been a nurse for 39 years and four months. She leaves for work every day with her scrubs on and her stethoscope around her neck. HER, not a doctor’s, stethoscope around HER neck. She spends her days with bodily fluids. She risks disease from these bodily fluids every day. She comforts. She listens. She medicates to take her patients’ pain away. She communicates. She teaches. You know what she doesn’t do more often than not? Take bathroom breaks and eat lunch.

When it snows or there is another dangerous weather event, my mom has no option but to go to work. The early morning hours the day after Hurricane Sandy when NO ONE was going out because it was still terrifying outside, my mom went to work. I am a strong and stoic corporate attorney and I am not ashamed to admit that I sobbed as I begged my mom not to leave. I legitimately feared she would die on the way to work. She simply said, “I have to go in. My patients are counting on me.”

I admit that I pleaded further. You see, I’m not a nurse. So, in that moment, my mom’s safety was more important to me than any patient. She said, “I have to go. My patients need me and the night shift nurses won’t be able to leave if I don’t show up to relieve them.” Again, because I am not a selfless nurse, I sobbed and begged: “Please don’t leave me. If something happens to you, I have no one.”

Guess what my mom did? She went to work. Because that’s what nurses do. They go to work. No matter what, they go to work. It took her an hour and 10 minutes to go four miles and she admitted months later that she did, in fact, fear for her life on the way to work. But she made it, she relieved her fellow nurses who worked the terrifying night of Sandy and she cared for her patients.

I have folders upon folders upon folders upon folders upon folders (you get the point) of compliments and accolades for my mom from her patients. I keep adding more as she keeps getting more. They never end and she treasures them all because each one signifies a life she has touched. While out to dinner or out shopping or out doing anything, we constantly encounter my mom’s patients and their families. They rave about the great care she gave them and what it meant to them. As I listen to them, my heart swells with pride that I have a mom who is a nurse. She is a superheroine. To her patients. And to me.

Your comments made her cry. That’s right. Your comments were so thoughtless, selfish, vicious and insensitive that they made my mom cry. Do you know why? Because, for decades, my mom has put her body, heart, blood, sweat, tears and soul out there for the care of others.  

Want to check out the rest of the letter? You can find it in its entirety here. Just don’t forget to share your thoughts on The View‘s criticism in the comments section below!


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

SHARE

24 COMMENTS

  1. Not hard to believe Joy Behars ignorant and inattentive comments.
    I could throw stones but they wouldn’t affect her arrogance.
    I have been a Registered Nurse for 37 years and have never been so insulted by her lack of knowledge regarding what nurses REALLY do and why “they wear a stethoscope around their neck.”
    I’m sure she has no remorse.

  2. This repost is from 2015 in a subscription to your magazine that I just received in 2018. Old news ( but sadly the issue persists, because of a culture of disrespect to women and nurses/ healthcare workers in general.)
    Are the publishers aware of the huge movement that began on Facebook- The Facebook Page “Show Me Your Stethescope” that has thousands of members, including myself since its inception right after Joy Behar’s faux paux. Nurses standing up and being heard- finally happening. Take a look at ZDogg’s videos- comic but a lot of truth (and support for nurses). In my home state of NJ there is a new Facebook page: NJ Safe Ratio’s focusing on the issue of staff/patient ratios and organizing a group to make the Nurse Take DC bus trip to Washington on April 26th to address Congress. Where is your article about this?

  3. I have been a nurse all my life.The 2nd half of my career I became involved in wound/ostomy care , There is no greater satisfaction than watching a large open wound Go through the process of regeneration of tissue and blood vessels,and finally reepitheilization. During this process I have to deal with the patient s pain level,body fluids,blood, fecal matter, necrotic tissue,infected tissue.Odors I can’t begin to describe!! I teach my patients what they need to do to promote healing, I teach their family members what to do to prevent further tissue damage ,I Teach them the importance of proper nutrition and hydration.I reasure the patient and their families that this is only a temporary situation and even in the most chronic of wounds we can heal,Of course that comes with my dedication and my persistence.I was hired for a 40 hour work-week which most weeks are approximately 60 if not more hours .When I finally get home to relax I end of researching ways I can be more beneficial to my patients ,New technology to help with the healing process . I have the amazing priviledge of dealing with people when they are at their most vulnerable,I have to work on areas of their bodies that most of us consider to be private.What I see,what I hear,stays inside of my mind.never to be shared with anyone.And I do all this on days where I feel like crap,on days where I’d rather be doing something else ,Or needing to be doing something else,but I come 2nd to a perfect stranger .And sadly enough I understand that I am underpaid and overworked .God blessed me with this talent and HE will reward me one day ,But until that day I will continue to do what I do-and I don’t have a single regret ,So tell me joy what have you done in the past 70 years that makes you so noble ,so admirable ,so high-and-mighty ,And lastly so condescending to people who actually Physically care for another human being .Remember karma can be quite cruel joy so hopefully you won’t end up in some nursing home with contractures full of pressure all servers and have a me or someone like me take care of you joy Behar you shame ,you shame your fellow human beings .KARMA KARMA KARMA

  4. I am a RN for 35 years. I am a Psych RN who helps kids children and teenagers when they are maladjusted, have depression, or are suicidal. You know the hardest thing in the world to do? Is to “be there” with kids who have almost killed themselves, love them, help them love themselves, and help their parents “get better” as parents. These kids are in such exquisite emotional pain: that staying with them, and holding them, and talking to them, when allot of other people won’t: Is A TALENT! I think allot of Rn’s are born with the caring…many others learn how to be caring….It doesn’t come easy! It causes us RN”s emotional pain and we have to go home, jog, go to therapy, go to yoga, float in the pool. So that we can go back to work the next day, and start over. But we LOVE it! THAT is a TALENT!!

  5. When you degrade an entire profession, you’re simply uneducated. So why would a producer want uneducated people to star in a talk show? Let’s see… talk show hosts are well groomed, hair impeccably styled, makeup is in, under eye bags well hidden with makeup, and smiling all day.
    Nurses….have no time to put on makeup before leaving for work, hair is just pulled into a ponytail, or fingerstyled if it’s short, Clothing is scrubs, not designer suits, and under eye bags are quite visable. We…yes I am a nurse..don’t get to sit for an hour to chat with people and insult them.
    Get educated!!! And PRAY that you never become a patient, especially mine

  6. I have nurses in my family in TN, VA, WV & NC. I work with many. None are hurt or upset by a supposed joke.

    This viral “social justice warrior” mob-mentality outrage has gone on long enough over a joke.

    Most realize an on-air (ie: on-the-clock) comedianne is joking around like at a roast. Jokes do not equal real feelings or real life. They may be bad jokes, tasteless jokes or immature jokes – but they are jokes. I think many thought they were serious.

    There have been far more heinous jokes about every gender, race, body type, profession on Comedy Central in a given hour. How many keystrokes have been typed in response to Comedy Central? How many pulses have been raised in anger. How many boycotts staged? How many firings demanded? None. Why? Because we know they are jokes. Not real. Meaningless. Kidding around. Sillyness.

    When we actually fact-check The View’s alleged #nursegate – the behind the scenes comments didn’t happen. They’ve apologized. They’ve tributed nurses. They’ve lost sponsors.

    Do we want innocent behind the scenes staff to lose their jobs for what amounts to “mucking/kidding’ around? Do we really want Joy or Michelle fired for a snide or snarky jibe? Really?

    The nurses I know and have met and worked with are a bit thicker skinned, mature, compassionate, forgiving than that! Heck, regular folks are too.

    We see lot of numbers of nurses involved. We know nowadays about paying for rented time for a bot-net type of attack – and have to wonder if all the “outraged nurses” flooding social media are real – or automated. Do all of these “outraged nurses” speak for everyone?

    Lots to ponder…

  7. I’m not a nurse, but it has always been a dream of mine. The remarks made by Joy Behar on “The View” about nurses and why are they wearing “doctors” stethoscopes was absolutely disgusting. Nursing is one of, if not THE most respectable positions in the world today! For nurses, being a nurse is not their job-it’s their life. They go to no end to make sure people are cared for. This comes before lunch break, breaks, going to the restroom, or going home on time. Heck, it’s actually rare that they get a break of any kind on their 12-hour shifts. However making sure his/her patients are tended to trumps getting home to their families. They miss their children’s “firsts”, school activities, fun family nights, birthdays, holidays, etc. etc.

    I have had numerous different nurses over my life span (like most of us), and they have all touched me in their own special way. They have calmed me while I have been anxious or upset and dried my tears. They have comforted me when I was in such pain I didn’t know if I would live or die.

    Nurses have made a difference in my life in so many ways! So for Joy Behar to degrade the profession of nursing, it angered me to no end. She is nothing but a comic who puts people down in the name of comedy and thinks she is being funny. Her job consists of standing behind a microphone making fun of people. If she had any general knowledge of going to the doctor’s office, she would know that nurses all have stethoscopes to examine you before the doctor comes in. Vitals is the first thing they do. So the woman is simply ignorant or just stupid. I suppose she can’t help it since she has never done any of the wonderful things nurses do everyday, including saving lives.

    It was truly wonderful to see the backlash the nursing community and medical field gave, but also everyday citizens who love and appreciate our nurses. If I were ever able to become a nurse, I would consider that to be the highest honor achievable.

    So here’s to all the nurses both in America and in countries abroad give their best to make a difference, you do. You truly do!! Thank you!!

  8. what is Joy Behars talent? I too have been a nurse for 37 years and going strong! Let’s encourage everyone to boycott the view!

  9. Bravo Miss Colorado for having the professional pride to stand up and tell the world who you are, who WE are, and to effectively educate folks who may not have had (yet) the personal experience to have needed that level of care, nor arrived at an appreciation for the Art of Nursing. It is indeed a very fine art.
    Ditto every word of Laura’s 12:41pm comments, as well as those first posted here by the daughter of a dedicated lifelong Nurse. They are NOT the exception. I am a 35+year,retired disabled, Registered Nurse. I am not only a nurse, but a patient-recipient of nursing care; and I’ve spent so much time at the bedside of dying patients and their families, that I am lovingly and respectfully entitled Wounded Healer. Music matters, I’ll be first to tell you, it is very dear to my heart. However, Nurses do the kinds of things with unequalled compassion and finessed skill, things that only nurses can do, things which matter with unparalelled value at those crucially sensitive moments when no bank account or beauty trophy or grand piano performance will do. We bring comfort, allay fear, integrate and orchestrate the many pieces of the care picture, advocating on behalf of our patients, articulating their voice to physicians to ensure their needs are met. We do this not only in hospitals, but in people’s own homes, in kids camps, and sometimes under bridges where some folks live. Sometimes we travel to our state capital on our own dime to make sure our government understands the stakes before voting on issues that will affect our patients. When the rest of society devalued our early profession because we were the ones who dared handle disposition of something so offensive as body fluids, we were there. When nobody else will look, much less touch, a person with diagnoses such as AIDS, we are there, with love and gentle, SKILLFUL hands to relieve suffering, not just of physical bodies, but also of human beings spirits. I took off work and personally deployed with a team to the southern tip of Louisana, 6 months after Katrina, and dug a man out of the mud and got he and his family CARE and safe dry housing to prevent infection to the 18 pins in his leg when nobody else identified he even had a need (!). If you don’t think nursing takes talent, I dare you to swap places with any nurse on the front lines of our currently chaotic healthcare system and get anything to work to relieve human suffering with a baton and a bunny dance. I cannot find enough words to convey how Nursing means SKILLED LOVE IN ACTION.
    Until the VIEW’s ignorant staff have been hanging on by a thread just this side of hell, and felt the hope and care of a Registered Nurse ministering to their misery, I doubt they would be able to get it. The show is history in my circles.
    To the Nurses of our world, may I, also a patient, say THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!! ?

  10. I am a retired nurse now a published author. My first book ‘The Baby Boomer Nurse’ was written to educate and share the life of a nurse. I requested to share it on the view but they did not respond, obviously they needed to. I am so disappointed about the public view and the lack of knowledge and understanding of our awesome profession. Thank you all for speaking out and bringing this unappreciated noble trade to the forefront, even for a short time. I am proud that I was apart of this community for over forty wonderful years. THE BABY BOOMER NURSE.

  11. I’ve been a nurse for 44 years and I relate to all the stories of my brave fellow nurses. My issue, at this point, is that Michelle Collins never stated an apology. She retorted by saying that nurses “misconstrued” her ignorant comments. Joy Behar did have the decency to apologize and seemed somewhat sincere. Whoopi, who wasn’t a part of the offensive rant, joined in with Michelle to say that it was misconstrued. I don’t think millions of educated and intelligent nurses all misunderstood the insults thrown at our profession.

  12. Joy Behar is a comedian so anything for a cheap laugh. However not at the expense of us dedicated professional nurses.I am celebrating 50 years as a nurse, and I am just as caring today, love my profession and could not have done anything else but nursing.
    The View has alienated many viewers by this disgraceful lack of respect. I will never watch this program again, but suggest the producers put a program together showing what makes a nurse and what atypical day is like, including the blood, sweat and tears. We are special.. Nurses are born not made.

  13. Thank you for this beautiful letter! I have been a nurse for 2 years. Joy should be fired and I will never watch the show again, support it in any way, may all the sponsors unsponsor. Very sad day when nurses aren’t given respect for their talent. I would like to see how Joy can juggle all the tasks and personalities. All she does for a living is run her big mouth with empty and hurtful words!!!!

  14. I have been a fan of Joy Behar for many years.
    I did not hear or see what comments she made about nurses buy if those comments made your mother cry they must have been very disrespectful.
    Your mother deserves an apology.
    I am a nurse and have worked over 40 years like all professions there are good ones and poor one
    I consider myself and your mother as excellent ones. When you practice your art make sure your patients will remember how good you made them feel.

  15. First off, Nursing is a talent. Does every contestant have to sing, play an instrument or twirl a baton?? Secondly, I stopped watching The View years ago solely because I found Joy Behar to be rude, prejudiced, ignorant, did I say RUDE, and unprofessional. I couldn’t stand how she would judge every Republican as trash and every Democrat as wonderful. She is the most judgmental woman on television that I’m aware of. Does she not consider stand up comedy a talent? It is. Not much compared to nursing, but a talent none-the-less. I found the contestant sharing her nursing experience as a skill very refreshing. Something meaningful & useful to inspire other young people.

  16. I am a nurse, who wears and uses a “doctor’s” stethoscope, and the daughter of a very hard working English teacher (in agreement with Lora that public speaking is a skill, and when used well as it was here, it can be a tool to educate and inform members of the general public about issues), and I was a fan of The View (people are entitled to their opinions) but the women on this show are just mocking people in our profession and other people who work public service jobs. Their judgment towards Ms. Johnson’s profession was reprehensible. What skills do these women on The View bring to the table? Nurses, other healthcare workers, human services, and public work PROFESSIONALS have amazing skills, and no, we did spend our time in school practicing an instrument, singing oratories, or taking dance lessons for we did not major in the musical arts we majored in the medical arts as we spent our hours (and hours, and after hours) in the clinical or classroom setting helping our patients and one another. I would have loved to have taken some sort of lesson to enhance a musical skill while in nursing school, I agree it is good to be familiar with the language of music, but I spent ALL of my time honing my craft before getting into nursing school, and during and after it, so that I could better help patients in the hospital. When I was in the hospital, my patients were my absolute focus and priority (even when I got home I was researching how to better take care of them the next day). I applaud Miss Colorado’s – Kelley Johnson – choice to share her message, it is a very relevant one, and about time a contestant showed how her skill has directly helped members of society. Would she have impressed the ladies of the The View if she shared her message in a mezzo-soprano voice while parading around in two slim pieces of fabric while walking in 4 inch heels? The View of all shows should applaud female professionals who share their message in and out in the workplace, certainly not put them down. Nurses, like many public service workers, do not get much recognition for their skills. Ms. Johnson educated people about the responsibilities of people in her profession, and it is a shame these ladies of The View could not appreciate that talent can and does come from people working behind the scenes for the betterment of society. I wish they would have celebrated her role as a nurse in and out of Miss America, but their lack of knowledge about our profession was on full display. Yes, we save people, which I doubt the ladies of The View directly do unless they have nurses on the program who inform the viewers to look out for certain health issues, and when we are not saving people we help them improve their quality of life. I am not sure how, or if, the women of The View have ever improved someone’s quality of life. I wish that these women had a relevant skill, but since it appears to be putting people down, which isn’t of benefit to anyone, perhaps they should have listened to Ms. Johnson’s speech about the benefits of helping others.

  17. I am a man and a nurse, and I too have left home in dangerous weather because it’s what nurses do. Though there are praises, most of the time it is a thankless profession. Your overworked and underpaid and often get squeezed between families and the company as you try to give your patients the care they need. Most days you don’t have time to sit down let alone take a break. Nursing is not for everyone, it takes someone special and yes most other people do not nor will they ever understand. Hug a nurse today and thank them, we will all sometime in our lives be under their care.

  18. I am a Nurse and proud of my profession. As I read the above letter I cried. Everything that daughter wrote in her letter is how I live my life as a nurse. Her mother is the epitomy of a nurse and am proud to call her a colleague.

    The simple minded opinion of the view of those women means nothing. I hope someday they need a nurse. I mean really need a nurse. So they can have a true value of nurses. Who put there life on the line everyday

  19. Lora: for what it’s worth I agree with your recap and for what it’s worth The open letter was pure perfection. I am a Registered Nurse, Hospice for children; a tough one, as they all are, When working the floor, many years before Hospice, I would say ” I’m just a Nurse” until one day the demure wife of an octogenarian who was dying stood up and came over to me saying the words I carry with me to this day. She said, in front of a Cardiologist and Oncologist, ” Don’t you ever dare say that again, it’s you who are allowing me and my husband to face this hell with strength , understanding and compassion. These guys( referring to the two Drs. Present) just come in for a couple of minutes but you are our family during this. She hit a real nerve in me and in them. No I am not ” just a nurse” I am a Nurse and am blessed to have the opportunity. As for the View, they tried to be funny and it fell flat. I really don’t believe they intended to be rude, ignorant, or unfunny. I think they learned their lesson and it did shine a light on the greatness of Nurses.

  20. Another part of this sad and disrespectful show was the “joking” about the nurse caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. I am a nurse who has cared for these patients and I can guarantee that tv “star” there is nothing funny or easy about this work. It is heartbreak day in and day out. So sad that these people cannot stay home with family who love them because it is too dangerous and their struggles with everyday life to much for them to handle safely. I cried too when I read their shallow, asanine jokes. Shame on them. God bless the lovely contestant who was so proud of her profession.

  21. Bravo! Thank you for taking the time to share your feelings about your mother and her life as a nurse. Only a family of a nurse can understand and appreciate what we go through on holidays, missing family get togethers, childrens ball games, traveling in incliment weather.

  22. As the mother of a nurse, all I can say is, this is not the first time Joy Behar has shown her ignorance and her prejudice and unfortunately, I’m afraid it won’t be her last
    God bless the nurses of the world

  23. I think their comments were not so much about the profession of nursing and the legitimacy of what she said but more a commentary of “how is that a talent”. They are used to someone dancing or singing or twirling something….and they consider that “talent”. I think that they have forgotten that writing a dialogue that has the proper beginning, a good flow, and a closing, that expresses things in a manner that the reader or listener feels the emotion in the words. And then there is a separate talent to actually reading it aloud with proper flow, articulation, ability to paint a picture with your words. That was what her talent was….not really so much about the message of nursing, or what she does in her interactions with patients, it was the talent of telling the story of it. Maybe I am reading them wrong but I felt that was the issue ….that is was a different kind of talent than what you usually see in those pageants.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here