Mighty Nurse: First of all congrats on your performance in the Miss America pageant! You made the entire nursing community very proud. Could you tell us a little bit about your nursing background? School, current role, future plans.
Kelley: Thank you! My Miss America experience was truly exceptional, and I am thankful for that. I graduated with my BSN from Grand View University in Des Moines, IA in April of 2015. I passed the NCLEX in May of the same year. I had my preceptorship in the general ICU of a local hospital over six months and was offered a job in the CTSICU for the same organization directly out of school. I won the Miss Colorado pageant two months later. I have put my nursing career on hold for the last few months preparing for the Miss America competition, but I am looking forward to returning as soon as possible. I want to continue on with graduate school in some capacity within the next two years.
Mighty Nurse: For your talent portion of the pageant you decided to come out wearing scrubs and discuss a personal experience you had as a Nurse. Why did you decide to break away from the typical song and dance routine?
Kelley: Growing up I was interested in playing sports. I was not ever technically trained in any of the stage talents that were performed on the Miss America stage. For me, my monologue was a way to remain authentically Kelley, showing off my talent of nursing, and not being counted out of the job of Miss America simply because I had different talent interests that to some seem atypical.
Mighty Nurse: You said in your monologue that you don’t want to be “Just a Nurse” How do you practice that and how important is it that every Nurse strives to do the same?
Kelley: I think it is imperative as nurses that we demand the respect that we deserve. This is a very teachable moment for the nursing community about how much we do, how much we know, and how much of a voice that we have. Being “just a nurse” in the minds of those who are unfamiliar with our profession will begin to change if we ensure that we respect ourselves as nurses first, respect our fellow nurses, and then demand that our colleagues and patrons respect us as well. We are not “just” nurses. We are integral within the healthcare team.
Mighty Nurse: A what moment in your life did you realize that you wanted to be a Nurse? Is there a specific story that sparked your nursing career?
Kelley: I lost my father to colon cancer when I was 4-years-old, and as I grew up I realized that I loved taking care of people and making them feel better. I wanted the caring foundation that nursing has provided me, and I always wanted to be a part of the lives of those that are at their most vulnerable. I wholeheartedly care about my patients, and I think that is the most important characteristic of a great nurse.
Mighty Nurse: Along with what seems like the entire nursing industry, when did you first watch the comments made on ‘The View’ about your monologue? And what was you initial reaction?
Kelley: I actually didn’t see the episode until I was notified of the reaction from the nursing profession. The only reason that I even knew about the comments was because my inbox was flooded with nurses who were standing up for me. My initial reaction was disappointment in what was said, of course, and yet I was so thrilled with what has become a worldwide response from the nursing community that I had a great sense of thankfulness as well.
Mighty Nurse: Nurses across not only our country but also the world seem to have taken a stand for you. Though various posts, comments, and videos the nursing industry has made it clear that being a Nurse is much more than wearing a “Nurses uniform” and using a “Doctor’s stethoscope”. What’s your opinion on the reaction from the nursing industry?
Kelley: I am ecstatic. The recognition that the profession is getting is what it deserves. More nurses are being thanked, more nurses are being taken seriously, and more nurses are being respected because of the events over the last week. Nurses have united together and have been given a voice to teach those around them how vital their role is in healthcare. It is incredible to see the new spark of enthusiasm that has ignited for so many.
Mighty Nurse: If you could say one thing to the women on ‘The View’ what would you say?
Kelley: I would say thank you. They have unknowingly banded an army of nurses together, given new life to our profession, and provided an opportunity to educate the world on the importance and necessity of each role within the healthcare team.