Male Nurse Disgusted by Female Nurses

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    This male nurse is appalled at his female colleagues' behavior. Is he right?

    Male Nurse Disgusted by Female Nurses

    Hi Beth:

    I believe you submitted a recent article about Safe Patient/Nurse Ratios in this country. I have been a nurse for about one year and a half and I am appalled by what I have observed with the untenable and unsafe patient/nurse ratios healthcare employers are demanding nurses work with, BUT, I am even more FRUSTRATED and DISGUSTED with the TOTAL LACK OF UNITY among nurses when it comes to speaking in one voice to employers about this.

    They would rather run to the bathroom and cry or ***** and moan in private never having the guts to unite and square off with the
    managements responsible for creating unsafe conditions for the sake of profit. I am a male nurse....you ladies always tout this spirit of "Teamwork" on the floors yet I have never in my life witnessed the amount of undermining and backstabbing that exists among nurses.

    Before we can begin to force change on healthcare employers we have to take ownership of our failure to unite.
    Ladies. please stop all the petty politics among yourselves! Let's all come together as one body and push our legislators for change!! We are in the millions and we are in demand!! That is power!!



    Dear Male Nurse Disgusted with Female Nurses,

    The female experience is very different from the male experience, my friend. You are operating in the largely female world of nursing, and it probably feels very foreign to you. But as women, this is our world and we know it well.

    You believe we are petty and fight among ourselves rather than uniting and speaking up to management. Uniting and speaking up to management as one is male behavior. Female behavior is more divisive and it has kept us down as a profession. You're right, the nursing profession is really not built on strength or unification.

    But there's a reason for this behavior. As a male, you would not know this as a lived experience.

    Female Conditioning

    Females are conditioned to envy each other, not to trust each other, and to compete with each other. Females compare themselves to other females all their lives. Girls compare themselves to Barbie, to the pretty girls, to the girls boys like best, to the cheerleaders. To every other girl.

    Women are taught to be helpless when they're not, act stupid when they're smart, not be hungry when they're starving, and to remain passive they're angry.

    Females are called the "b" word for being assertive and considered to be more feminine when they are "sweet". It's a dichotomy of expectations.

    The dichotomy is everywhere. Look at popular movies about mean girls.

    Being direct and straightforward is not how women are brought up to communicate whatsoever. Saying what we need is less important than meeting other's needs.

    Meanwhile, boys are taught to stick together, in the army, on the football team. You rarely hear doctors criticize other doctors. Even when a patient goes to see a doctor with a condition that was mishandled by another provider, the response is more along the lines of "Well, let's move forward from here".

    By contrast, nurses are hard on each other. Nurses can be quick to blame other nurses. As females, we expect perfection from ourselves...and each other.

    State boards of nursing, made up of nurses, are notoriously hard on nurses as compared to doctors' governing boards.

    There's another reason for your observations about female behavior.

    Men Rule

    It's still largely a male-dominated world. Men have the power. Look at the recent "Time's Up" issue. Even in liberal Hollywood, men have the power. Hospital boards are largely male. Hospital CEOs are largely male while CNOs are largely female.

    It's a tough but true reality.

    Even in nursing, a traditionally female occupation, when men become nurses they are often viewed as more qualified. It's no secret that men in nursing make more than women.

    Self-Value

    But we women have very special qualities. Intuition, compassion. Empathy. We are nurturers. When we focus on those unique gifts and collaborate together, instead of competing with each other, we are our most powerful selves.

    No Excuses

    This is not to say these explanations are excuses. Excuses are for people who don't take responsibility.

    We are a force to be reckoned with once we take responsibility and come together. There are over 3 million nurses in the United States. We act as if we only have a rake when we actually have a bulldozer in the garage. We have enormous ability to bring about change.

    How do we rally the masses? I don't know. Nurses do unite in outrage, as in Show Me Your Stethoscope. But there is an apathy around bringing about political change. The nursing profession itself is not unified by the American Nurse's Association (ANA). Some would say the ANA is beholden to the American Hospital Association (AHA). The AHA is a powerful lobby.

    For whatever reason, it is time to stand up, stand together, and speak up. There is a grassroots movement that is dedicated to legislating nurse-patient ratios. It's the Nurses Take DC organization.

    If every nurse reading this would make a call to their legislator, or write an email- it will make a difference!

    Easily find out who your legislators are and make a call.

    Write a letter to support H.R. 2392 and S. 1063 Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2017 legislative bills. Legislators respond to topics based on the number of phone calls and mail from their constituents.

    Please read Mandated Nurse-Patient Ratios and share it and this article on social media. Use hashtags #NursesTakeDC and #allnursesSTRONG


    Last edit by Nurse Beth on Jan 16
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  3. by   Davey Do
    Great article, Beth.

    I sometimes wonder if I would have listened in life to the wisdom of those who knew what they were talking about, people such as you, I would have avoided a few major struggles.

    However, it has been said that the struggles yield illuminating revelations which heighten our conscious.

    Whatever the case, your article summed up what it's taken nearly a lifetime for me to learn.

    The best to you!
  4. by   FSZ Student Nurse
    Quote from Nurse Beth
    BUT, I am even more FRUSTRATED and DISGUSTED with the TOTAL LACK OF UNITY among nurses when it comes to speaking in one voice to employers about this.

    They would rather run to the bathroom and cry or ***** and moan in private never having the guts to unite and square off with the
    managements responsible for creating unsafe conditions for the sake of profit. I am a male nurse....you ladies always tout this spirit of "Teamwork" on the floors yet I have never in my life witnessed the amount of undermining and backstabbing that exists among nurses.

    Before we can begin to force change on healthcare employers we have to take ownership of our failure to unite.
    Ladies. please stop all the petty politics among yourselves! Let's all come together as one body and push our legislators for change!! We are in the millions and we are in demand!! That is power!!


    Interesting points Nurse Beth.... but I take issue with the premise of the letter.

    The letter writer says he is "FRUSTRATED and DISGUSTED with the TOTAL LACK OF UNITY among nurses", and then goes on to attack his female coworkers. Where does he think unity starts? Why is it their job to initiate it?

    He also writes that these nurses should confront management instead of avoiding the issue. What would happen if these nurses got together and demanded better treatment? Would they get it or would they get fired? And, how does he know they haven't tried? Maybe they have made moves to improve their working conditions, but were thwarted by management.

    BUT, the thing that bothers me the most is this bit: "Before we can begin to force change on healthcare employers we have to take ownership of our failure to unite. Ladies [emphasis mine]." Where is his ownership of this failure? What has he done to address these issues?

    ETA: I don't disagree that petty spats can undermine nurses' bargaining power, and perhaps it is more prevalent within the ranks of female nurses. But, something about that letter...
    Last edit by FSZ Student Nurse on Jan 16
  5. by   maxthecat
    I remember a time that two male nurses staged a sit-down protest when they got to their unit and saw the horrendous staffing. They were accommodated.
    I can safely say that if it were two female nurses their jobs would have been threatened. That's not meant as an excuse for not doing a better job of sticking together, but it is based on life/work experience of many of us women. It's still not an equal playing field.
  6. by   AceOfHearts<3
    Quote from maxthecat
    I remember a time that two male nurses staged a sit-down protest when they got to their unit and saw the horrendous staffing. They were accommodated.
    I can safely say that if it were two female nurses their jobs would have been threatened. That's not meant as an excuse for not doing a better job of sticking together, but it is based on life/work experience of many of us women. It's still not an equal playing field.
    I can bet if 2 women did that they would be dubbed over dramatic, drama queens, etc.

    I honestly would hate to have that male nurse as a coworker. I don't care what gender a nurse is, but he has the attitude that he is better.
  7. by   redreba
    agree, it's just more patriarchy, blame game
  8. by   idkmybffjill
    Often, I have found it explicitly more easy to criticize and point out what others should be doing rather than take the time to realize why they don't or even focus on my own flaws and mistakes. It's usually a mistake. Perhaps this guy should ask the women he works with why they haven't went to management about it (in a genuine way) and try to start a discussion on productive solutions to the problems you all have.

    However, I bet part of why the women just complain and moan about it instead of going to management has to do with not being taken seriously when they did it before, being told and taught that it wasn't correct for them to do so, or out of fear that they will be seen as rude or a b****, which will affect their jobs. It's the same reason women are far less likely to negotiate salaries--we are not taught to be assertive and to be overconfident in our skills and it's "just not something women do." So even we work and break our teachings, as we ought to continue to encourage women to do, we run the high risk of it being viewed negatively and experiencing push back because of the cognitive dissonance others experience when we break the "roles" we are supposed to fit.

    We must all strive to be more assertive, to be more vocal about what we need, but I also think we have to be understanding of why someone doesn't automatically do this themselves, why it might take someone longer to get to that point and why some people chose not to because for them, it's not worth the negative consequences and push back. Instead of being disgusted and frustrated, be understanding and empathetic. It'll probably get you further.
  9. by   opalbee
    Nurse Beth, I have a lot of respect for you writing your response the way you did. You spelled it out, plain and simple. Thank you so much.
  10. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Well, "male nurse" in a society that is still as patriarchal as hell and as a female, myself, who feels the sting of it and the unfairness in treatment and pay just based on being female versus male----- (yes I know male counterparts who entered my specialty making more money who were distinctly less qualified than myself and whom are automatically treated with more respect by many doctors for their um, maleness. The same guys who got pass after pass in nursing school because they were a minority of sorts, missing classes, not showing up for clinicals at times, and poor grades, etc.)--- I find your lack of "unity" with your "disgusting" "whining", etc.... female colleagues rather depressing. And telling.

    That's all I will say. Sorry Beth, but this hit a nerve with me so I could not be as cool headed as you were. Again, I will move on, away from this potential firestorm already coming.
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Jan 16
  11. by   Knotanoonurse
    Sometimes, I think that as nurses we have very little real power. That is why those who seek power often resort to lateral violence. What people don't always realize that our power lies in the compassion we have for our patients and should have for each other. A well functioning unit runs on trust, collegiality, and cooperation. Still, those who are afraid to lose ground perpetuate envy, distrust, and ultimately lateral violence. A lot of this comes from the top. If a leader feels she or he is fueled by fear, they will continue to practice intolerance, splitting, and intimidation. Despite lip service to shared governance and staff involvement, when the going gets tough, the leaders get out their big sticks and rule with the iron fist.

    One of my pet peeves is asking for staff to be on committees and participate in various capacities to "run" the unit AND THEN...cancel when there is low census. You can't expect nurses to act like professionals when they are treated like factory workers. It has been ok to treat women like this for years as they were not considered the "primary" wage earner. I guess healthcare is still twenty or so years behind in this respect. As Beth points out, this too, is part of this female world.
  12. by   umbdude
    It's a myth that backstabbing and pettiness only occur among females. I worked in a male-dominated industry for years before nursing...this stuff happened A LOT among guys, if not worse. I worked with several male bosses and never had a good experience, and a couple were downright horrible. On the other hands, my female bosses were always awesome.
  13. by   SmilingBluEyes
    True words above. I was in the military 10 years. Backstabbing and undermining were rampant. So was sexual harassment even though the military had policies against it. It went on anyway.

    Sorry, but it ain't easy being female in a patriarchal society. Never has been.
  14. by   AutumnApple
    I've never been a fan of blaming my environment or others for my behavior. That's just me. Also, being one who has no desire to be dependent on someone else, I've always scoffed at the "Men rule" culture we live in.

    Over my short (yet eventful) lifespan, one thing has bothered me with regards to the "men and women are different" debate. I've always noticed how men seem to form long lasting friendships while women tend to be more drawn to friendships of convenience.

    Men: They are "brothers to the bone" and willing to take a bullet for one another. "Just don't touch my wife" is all they say about it.
    Women: Best friends forever today, smearing each other's names to anyone who will listen tomorrow.

    And that is the core of the gender issue. You put it so well stating "female behavior is more divisive." I'd also agree with "no excuses" and "excuses are for people who don't take responsibility." Men had to graduate from their primitive thinking to what they are now. Isn't it time for us to do so as well? We don't have to be a slave to every preprogrammed inclining and urge.

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