You Gotta Listen!

Unless you live under a rock, most people in the States (and probably elsewhere around the world) have heard about the controversy that arose after the women on the television show, The View, made disparaging comments about the nurse in the Miss America pageant. As her talent, Kelly Johnson gave a moving monologue about being a nurse caring for Joe, an Alzheimer’s patient. As she cared for him, she learned from him, mainly that she wasn’t “just” a nurse. When she told Joe that he was more than “just an Alzheimer’s patient,” he rebutted that she often referred to herself as “just a nurse.” He told her she was so much more.

The View panelist, Michelle Collins, commented on how Miss Colorado came out in her nurses’ uniform and basically read her emails. That was not the case. Apparently, Michelle Collins wasn’t LISTENING! Then Joy Behar piped up with a comment about the “doctors’ stethoscope” around her neck.  (paraphrase: “And what’s with the doctors’ stethoscope?”) The panelists seemed to be more focused on Kelly Johnson’s garb than her message.

Nurses across the nation (and the world) were outraged. Our colleagues showed nurses much support on Facebook and in blogs. Doctors, respiratory therapists, health care providers across the spectrum rooted for the nurses and said “Shame on you, Joy Behar and the View.” Many used humor to belittle the comments made by Joy, Michelle and their pals.

doctors stethoscope  Nurses stethoscope Nurses stetho Why TV show

The panelists on the View didn’t “get it.” They thought we didn’t “listen” to what was being said. The next day, all of the panel said, “You gotta listen. You gotta listen.” They said they meant that they were used to seeing Miss America contestants come out in bathing suits and revealing clothing, not baggy scrubs. As they continued their chant, “you gotta listen,” it struck me how they were not listening. The pot was calling the kettle black, and doing so very loudly.

I saw many positive aspects come out of this fiasco.

  1. Several humorous memes were produced, unleasing creativity by leaps and bounds!
  2. Nurses used the opportunity to educate the public.
  3. Other health care providers such as doctors, respiratory therapists and nurses’ aides (to mention a few) commented and lent support to our profession. RTs and nurses’ aides pointed out that, they too use “doctors’ stethoscopes.”
  4. Many of the 3 million nurses in this country united in their outrage.
  5. Face Book and bloggers saw increase “traffic” as people posted and “liked” many comments by nurses, about nurses and for nurses.

It is ironic to me that talk show hosts would accuse nurses of not listening. Listening is one of the most important things nurses do. Not just with “doctors’ stethoscopes” either! We listen to our patients and their concerns. We listen to our colleagues and collaborate to provide the care needed to our patients. We listen to each other when a patient dies or when support is needed. We listen when our colleagues need our help.

Listening is not thinking about what you are going to say in response to what the other person is saying. It’s the act of hearing what is being said so you can understand the other person better.


It seems in our society today, there is much more yelling going on than listening. When I look at the political arena, I see people yelling, not listening. When the television is on and a talk host or guest appears, they seem to yell a lot. (I don’t watch daytime television because of all the yelling going on. Plus, most of it is drivel, in my opinion.)

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” Bryant H. McGill

If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.” Robert Baden-Powell

I think what we need is more listening and less YELLING. Yelling only serves to drown out the beauty in this world. The rustle of the leaves as a breeze goes through. The water running over the rocks in a stream. The soft mew of a kitten. The tender voice of a grateful patient.

Listen and you will learn and enjoy many more things.IMG_3291

The Odyessy of Susan

This is an old Xanga post from 2009. Updated and reblogged.

I Write, Therefore I Am

This is an old post from my Xanga blog (which is now defunct.) I thought it was worth a repeat.

“Oh Goddess of Inspiration, help me sing of wily Odysseus, that master of schemes!”  Or, I should say “help me sing of clueless Susan, the master of confusion.”


Last weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Chicagoland with Maggie. We did this one other time and had an absolute blast. We were like two teen-aged girls, gabbing and laughing the entire seven hour drive, stopping to shop at the Amanas and taking our sweet time, enjoying the moment. So, I was looking forward to another fun trip with Maggie as well as seeing the kids and our baby girl (now 10 months old.)

We planned to leave Friday morning. I reserved a rental car in Rockford this time as my son was not going to be able to meet…

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Care vs Cure

IMG_3290  Listen to link below

As I grow older, I wonder what my end will be like.

Recently, I received the above link in my email. A friend sent it with the comment “Inspiring.” (Unlike me, my friend is a person of few words.) She is right. It truly is inspiring.

As a nurse, I have long said that if I were ever diagnosed with pancreatic or ovarian cancer, I would opt to go on a cruise as opposed to going through treatments. I have seen too many people spend their last days in the hospital. I am not brave enough to be one of the “pioneers” that allows myself to be treated for a thus-far incurable disease. If I am going to die anyway, let me do so without all the surgeries and chemotherapy that have not been proven that successful.

Of course, if I had a disease that has been shown to be treatable such as breast or colon cancer, I definitely would give it a shot. But some diseases have proven to be difficult, if not impossible, to “cure” or even extend life that much. I’m all about “quality of life” not “quantity.” Why rack up major hospital bills, costing my family dearly, and why put myself through the pain of surgery and the side effects of chemo if its not going to help. In the end, we all die of something. Bless the people who have been strong enough to suffer through unproven treatments to help find cures. But I am not one of them.

So, like the priest in this podcast, I would opt for palliative treatment only, which means, a treatment that just keeps me comfortable as I die, not a treatment to “cure.”  To me, all the money spent at the end of life is often money poorly invested. I am not being “hopeless” or advocating euthanasia but rather being pragmatic. Options should always be weighed and educated decisions made. For example, if I were a young mother, I probably would not feel the same as I do now. This decision is not for everyone.

As a nurse, one of the problems I have seen is that people believe there is a cure for everything–we just need to find it. They put a lot of faith in the doctors. Keep in mind, too, that U.S. doctors are trained to “cure” so their focus is to prevent death. often at all costs. It is a futile endeavor, but they may try everything they can think of to keep someone alive. I have known doctors who view the death of a patient as a failure on their part. Nurses focus on relieving suffering. It is good we have the two professions. If all is going as it should, they balance each other out perfectly.

The saying is that “Doctors cure. Nurses care.” Nurses focus on the entire patient and how the illness will affect not only the physical well-being, but also the family, their socioeconomic happiness (how will she pay her bills, how will the illness affect her ability to work or care for her family, etc), her psycho-social health, etc.

Since I began my career in 1978, many changes have occurred. Now a “team approach” is more likely than the old “captain of the ship” approach where the doctors had the only say in what treatment should be given. (The smart doctors always listened to the nurses since it was/is the nurse who is present at the bedside and knows what is happening to the patient hour-by-hour.) Patients and families are included in the decision-making, instead of “the doctor knows best” approach.

As I age, these matters come to the forefront for me. It is never too early to plan for the end. Let your family know your philosophy and hopes for the future, be they short-term or long-term.

And, if you hear that I have booked a cruise, maybe, just maybe…(or it could be just my crazy cousin wanting to go on a trip.)

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King