Why Nurses Everywhere Were Rooting For Miss Colorado For Miss America


By Kate Lapotin

The judges to this year’s Miss America pageant in Atlantic City played witness to an unorthodox ‘performance’ in the contest’s talent competition Wednesday night.

That’s because this year’s Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, skipped the usual song-and-dance routine completed by most of her rivals, choosing instead to deliver a heartfelt monologue about her work as a nurse.

She even eschewed the typically elaborate costumes worn by pageant contenders, instead wearing a simple pair of purple scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck.

The 22-year-old Johnson told the story of a patient named Joe, and how treating him reminded her why she chose the profession in the first place, telling the judges:

“Joe was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. He had moments with and moments without his memory. But the hardest part about the aging condition for Joe were his nightmares – he would wake up in the middle of the night, screaming absolute bloody murder. But if I could just get in there and hold his hand for a few moments I could get him to calm down.”

She added that Joe would ask if she could change his treatment plan or his medicines, neither of which she was authorized to do. Johnson would tell him:

“I’m just a nurse.”

But she could do something for him that the doctors and other staff at the hospital weren’t always able to do: spend time with the sickly man and comfort him during his time of need. She noted how the two bonded over volleyball, her height, and his grandchildren.

One night, a tearful Joe told her:

“Although you say it all the time, you are not just a nurse. You are my nurse and you have changed my life because you have cared about me.”

According to Johnson, it was at that moment when she realized that she was “never going to be ‘just a nurse,'” a statement that received a roaring applause from those in the crowd at Boardwalk Hall.


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