Are non-parent nurses discriminated against?

  1. I am not a nurse, but thinking of becoming one. It is unlikely (but possible) that I will have children someday.

    I have heard that nursing offers great flexibility for people with children, and I think that's great. I think people should be able to work around their kids' schedule, leave early when needed to care for children, etc.

    BUT, I expect the same flexibility to be offered to the child-free person. Just as someone might need to leave to pick up a sick child or attend a school play, I might have to run errands or take my dog to the vet.

    In nursing, is it common for people to automatically assume that the child-free should work weekends and holidays more frequently, or take other hours that parents don't want? I know that weekends and holidays come with the territory; I just want an equitable distribution of them.

    Do any non-parent nurses feel discriminated against in this regard? Conversely, do any parents who are nurses feel discriminated against because they DO have children?
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   LasVegasRN
    This was quite a long time ago, but I did experience the discrimination because I didn't have any kids. The nurse manager of our unit granted parents first choice of holidays off because she felt they needed to be with their families. The single people in the unit were left with whatever was leftover, which was literally nothing by the time all the parents got their time approved. It was grossly unfair, and being the child of parents I didn't get to spend the holiday with my folks at all.

    I'm hoping that this attitude has changed since then - that was in the 80's.
  4. by   kimberle
    The hospital I work a doesn't have discrimatory practice regarding whether a parent or not.
    All holidays (including Christmas, etc.) are put on a rotating schedule so that every person has to work every holiday every 3rd year. Like this year I work 4th of July & Christmas and I won't have to now for 2 years. Last year I worked Thanksgiving and Memorial Day and so on and so on. They've grouped the holidays into 3 groups which include 1 summer and 1 winter holiday, then you rotate through the groups.
    I think they only "benefit" I have as a parent is that I can call in sick when a child is sick. Of course, it counts toward my call-ins in general, so as with any call in it can be detrimental if call in a lot.
    I do think work ethics have changed in that nurses recognize that there is a life after work. When I first started, without children, I would work a lot of overtime. Now, with children, I don't volunteer hardly at all.
    Nsg. is flexible, esp. in resource positions!
  5. by   kaycee
    I've worked alot of years in nursing both without children and then with. When I was single or even married with no kids yet I often offered to work the holidays so the people with kids could enjoy them or because I wanted the extra money. It was always my choice though. The people I work with now that have no kids or are single get equal treatment in regards to holidays, needing time off or whatever. I think if you have a manager that is discrimatory in that regard you have to speak up and challange that practice. Because in fact it is discriminatory!!!!
  6. by   Paprikat
    My facility treats both nurses equally. It is the nurses with children that sometimes make me feel pressured to work holidays. Once I was off on Hallowe'en, and one of the nurses asked to switch with me, I said no and she was upset and said "Well, what are you going to do, you have no kids, I do." It really irritated me. Last Christmas, I was off (as I worked the prior three Christmases), this same nurse wanted it off, when I said no, she made a rude comment about "Christmases are for children and you don't have any." Who cares about the fact that I worked so many before, and childless or not, I do have a life!
  7. by   CseMgr1
    It irritated the s--- out of me, to have someone throw that "I have kids and you don't" mentality in my face, before I got married and had kids. When you sign up to be a nurse, you get the goodies that go along with it: weekends, holidays and double-shifting....and when my son came along, NO Head-Nurse Manager (or anyone else, for that matter), cut me any breaks...why should you have cut her one?
  8. by   zudy
    grace, if you really think you can take off work to run errands or take you dog to the vet, trust me nursing is not for you! I have left my sick kids with other people , stayed up with them all night because they were still sick, and then gone in to work a 16 hour shift. I have missed out on many of their activities becuase I have never worked in a place that wasn't chronically short staffed.

    good nurses are needed, but if you think that a nurses manager is going to let you off becuase of your dog, you need to rethink this.
  9. by   Gomer
    Zudy...thanks for bring that up...I missed that information on the first message. I don't know many employers (medical or not) that would give anyone time off to run errands or even taking alot of time off for sick kids. Flexibility in the work place is probably only found for those that are self-employed and even then, if they want to be successful, it's rare.
  10. by   ageless
    grace, if you really think you can take off work to run errands or take you dog to the vet, trust me nursing is not for you! I have left my sick kids with other people , stayed up with them all night because they were still sick, and then gone in to work a 16 hour shift. I have missed out on many of their activities becuase I have never worked in a place that wasn't chronically short staffed.

    good nurses are needed, but if you think that a nurses manager is going to let you off becuase of your dog, you need to rethink this.
    It is none of the nurse manager's business why graceM might want the day off..it might be for her dog, her child, her hamster, or to just go skipping through rain puddles. If Grace has the paid time off coming to her, then it is her right to use it for whatever reason she chooses.

    When I request time off, I do not give a reason... In over 20 years, I have never felt it necessary to justify my personal time. My priorities may be different then others, but they are my business and I won't allow anyone to judge me by them. So, don't you either, Grace!
    Last edit by ageless on May 22, '02
  11. by   OBNURSEHEATHER
    Originally posted by GraceM
    I think people should be able to work around their kids' schedule, leave early when needed to care for children, etc.

    BUT, I expect the same flexibility to be offered to the child-free person. Just as someone might need to leave to pick up a sick child or attend a school play, I might have to run errands or take my dog to the vet.
    :chuckle :chuckle :chuckle :chuckle

    First of all, let me say that as nurses, we earn time off. When we request it, we do not have to give reason, and if it's granted I don't care what you do with it. But running errands and scheduled appointments are things that should be done on your day off.

    You made reference to "leaving early" for a vet appointment or to run some errands. Like "oops, I forgot to get groceries, someone take my 8 patients while I run to Kroger". HAHAHAHA! I would never, ever, call my nursing career "flexible" in this aspect. Emergencies are one thing, but the cases you cite are not.

    In terms of weekends and holidays, like others have said, ours our distributed evenly.

    Heather
  12. by   ageless
    Thanks, Heather, I didn't see the part about" leaving early". I agree with your statements wholeheartedly.
  13. by   indeed
    I haven't seen any sort of discrimination in the work setting as a child-free nurse. I did see this a lot in nursing school, though. I was one of three people in my class that wasn't married and/or had children and, whether intentional or not, the expectations were different. I was one of the only people who wasn't granted extensions on work, whilst there were a few that handed EVERYTHING in late, using their children as an excuse (and this was acceptable). I don't think this was faulty of the school, I understand the need to be flexible. They just sort of refused to recognize that people can have other things that impact their lives. Other than "a family", of course. Didn't seem to make much of a difference in the end, though. So YAY!

    Indeed.
  14. by   GraceM
    My scenarios about the errands and the vet were just made-up examples. I would never leave ANY job early in order to do these things, unless they were emergencies! And I would let my dog die before I would abandon a patient. My examples were only meant to emphasize the fact that people without children have things they need to do too.

    My question was more about: if two nurses need the same day off, and one has children and the other doesn't, and only one can have the day, would the adminstration favor the person with kids? Ditto for holidays and such.

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