When people think of Miss America they usually think of women in beautiful gowns walking on a brightly lit stage. Usually these women will sing, dance, or a play an instrument. But on September 13, 2015, Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson defied stereotypes when she donned her scrubs and stethoscope to deliver a powerful monologue about being “just a nurse.”
Miss Colorado’s Monologue
Kelley’s monologue focused on the patient that reminded her of why she chose the nursing profession in the first place.
Her patient, Joe, had Alzheimer’s and suffered from night terrors. He’d often ask Kelley if she could adjust his medicine, but she’d reply that she couldn’t because she was just a nurse. Kelley continued that one evening Joe was having a particularly tough time and Kelley reminded Joe that he wasn’t just Alzheimer’s. She reminded him that he was a person with a family and that he shouldn’t be defined by his condition. Surprisingly, Joe turned the tables on Kelley and reminded her that she wasn’t just a nurse.
Joe told her that she had changed his life because she actually cared about him. Kelley ends her monologue by saying that she’ll never be just a nurse because she saves lives and she genuinely cares about her patients.
“Taking Care of People”
In the pageant world, contestants are told to perform a talent that they love, something that empowers them. Contestants are then judged on their talent, with the talent portion being 30 to 35 percent of their total score.
On a recent appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show, Kelley explained, “My talent is taking care of people and caring about other people. And so I wanted to give the nurses that don’t have that voice that voice and that recognition of just somebody going up there and just being a little different and unique.”
Not Just a Nurse, a Unique Talent
Performing a unique talent on the Miss America stage is nothing new. Past Miss America talents have included ice skating, doing impressions, ventriloquism, roller-skating, archery, and more, but Kelley’s monologue struck a chord with viewers.
While some scoffed that Kelley’s talent wasn’t up to par for the competition, people all over the world began voicing their support for the intensive care nurse from Fort Collins, Colorado. Even though she didn’t sing or dance, Kelley’s talent shed light on the nursing profession and how nurses are on the front lines of health care.
Nurses are the advocates, the planners, and the glue that holds the whole thing together and they deserve their time in the spotlight. Kelley’s nursing experience, while unique to her, is not unique overall. Nurses every day get to impact the lives of their patents and make a real difference.
Ultimately, Kelley Johnson didn’t win the coveted Miss America crown. She was the second runner up, winning a $20,000 scholarship. Since competing in the pageant, Kelley has appeared on many talk shows and been interviewed about her unique talent and her life being a nurse.
Even though Kelley didn’t win the title, she was instrumental in shining a spotlight on nursing and showing the world what a nurse really is and what they can do.