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I do not watch the view, nor do I watch the Miss America Beauty Pageant, however, during suggested reading on my feed on Facebook, I came across the story of the Contestant from Colorado, Kelley Johnson and her monologue on being a nurse. The feed was a story and video clip about the members of the T.V program THE VEW and an explanation of statements by some of the members of the T.V. panel as being misconstrued. I watched the playback of the episode in question where the members of the panel apologize for the insensitive statements on an earlier program in regards to the contestant’s talent performance, which was the monologue. The monologue was shown in the clip in its entirety and told an emotional and touching story of a nurse and an early patient of hers who suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.

After watching the clip, I scrolled through a number of the comments on the bottom of the page and saw many people praise the nurse for her “talent” as a nurse while others, although apologetic, went on to say that being a nurse is not a talent, it is a skill set that is learned; and still more insisted that people were confusing the monologue, which was the portion of the contest in question, and nursing, which was what the monologue was about. Are you still with me?

For obvious reasons, comments left were very passionate in regards to the respect and gratitude for the profession of nursing. I have, myself, a respect for and admiration for the men and women who work long hours in rotating shifts and who care for the people they treat; my aunt having been one of them.

I don’t think anyone can call into question the validity of the importance of nurses or Ms. Johnson’s obvious passion for her work.

The matter in question, though, was her monologue about nursing. I’m not here to critique or even comment of the monologue itself, but as a person who works in an industry that is often used in a therapeutic setting, I would like to express my thoughts about the message that Ms. Johnson may have been trying to allude to in her Monologue, and it may be what some are trying to describe as being the talent in a profession known mostly for its skill set. Hopefully I can do this without putting words in her mouth. As I’ve already mentioned, a lot of people in the comments section referred to nursing as a profession requiring skills. There are a series of hard skills taught so that the student, upon graduating, is in a position to deal with certain issues that arise while performing their jobs.

There is, however, another very important part of being a nurse that not all learn to master. It is the ability to “touch” the lives of their patients and their patients’ family in a way that makes them feel special and loved and cared for…as if they were safe and home with their loved ones and not laying in a sterile, cold environment we all know hospitals can sometimes be. This ability is also a skill set taught and is known as ‘soft skills’; but in some, it is also a gift or talent.

A few years ago, during an oral presentation in public speaking, I was required to present up to an eight minute speech on a subject: The Power of Touch. The topic was my choosing and perhaps in the context of Massage Therapy there is more validity to the argument for the power of touch in all the senses of the word, but in nursing, one can also have this power-this ability-to touch. As described in my presentation, there are many meanings to the word, but that one specifically applies to the art of influencing or affecting an individual in a positive, or conversely a negative way without the use of physical touch.

I believe that was the lost point in Ms. Johnson’s monologue, the talent within the talent portion of the pageant; an ability to touch the lives of her patients in a way that will always be remembered and appreciated by them during, in some cases, their darkest hour. So whether you refer to Ms. Johnson’s monologue as being her talent portion of the pageant, or her skills as a nurse in being able to provide a ‘soft skill’ in a way that goes above and beyond the call of duty, you are right. Ms. Johnson’s monologue was a touching story that conveyed her ability and talent to touch the life of a patient and reach him in a way that not everybody is capable of doing.

That is a rare gift indeed.

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