Sexism in Nursing (a male point of view) - page 15

As a male in nursing, I feel that I am sometimes treated differently because of my gender. I believe that I am expected to carry a heavier patient load with less assistance from my female coworkers.... Read More

  1. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I agree...awesome post, ERN...too bad it had to be stated like this ....I understood you WAYYYYY back ....oh well. Still an awesome post.
  2. by   LilgirlRN
    I gotta agree with Dave, we have given thsi thread far too much of our time because the fault lies not within nursing itself but in society. If we only took care of other nurses or doctors there may not be an issue here...however I have been to my own ED with belly pain and was taken care of by a male nurse and a male doctor, I just thank God that I didn't need a pelvic or need to be cathed. We have one doc, talk about gender bias, he thinks women are incapable of obtaining a clean catch urine! I have a GYN doc and then I have an internal medicine doc. Why two? Cause I have to work with my internal med doc too much and I just don't want him doing my yearly exam, so you see, society gets to us too. If we have help sent to us, I don't care if you are male, female or a eunuch, purple, green, black or blue as long as you pull your own weight and you have a clue as to what you're doing I have NO problem whatsoever with you.
  3. by   Dayray
    ERN you truly have a way with words!

    You have summed up my feeling very well with your story.

    I also identify with how you must have felt after you left the room. Having built a strong patient relationship and really truly helping that patient and her baby. Then to be told that it was somehow wrong because of your gender.

    This is what we endure on a daily basis. As anyone who has experienced it can tell you. Discrimination makes you feel helpless.

    I absolutely love what I do. I hate the fact that I am questioned and second-guessed at every turn because of my gender.

    Although I am sure it won't be as good as ERN's story let me share one of mine with you and maybe you will see why this is such an important subject to me.

    One day I was walking to one of my patient's room's to check in on her. I knocked because I always do. Another nurse was in the room and asked, "who's there?" I said "its me DayRay"; she answered "wait a minute she is breast feeding". I said, " I am her nurse" she said, "I know".

    To give you a bit of background on this patient. I had met her 2 days before when she was in labor. She was a prima gravita and very scared. I held her hand threw delivery and she begged me not to leave at the end of my shift. Her child was on O2 for the next day and was not able to breast-feed or to be held. The patient was very upset and she was also single. I was the only one for her to talk to. I spent the better part of my day comforting her. She then developed endometriosis and was very ill with fevers of 103 that took a long time to get down and she also threw up about 5 times that day. I was very bonded to this patient and she was very bonded to me.

    I stood at the door considering what I should do. On one hand I didn't want to make waves on the other I was upset that someone would tell me stay out of my patient's room. I also had the fleeting thought that perhaps my patient would be uncomfortable (even though I had been in her labor, helped her perform peri care, and changed her gown when she threw up on it).

    I went in, got a cold stare from the other nurse and a warm smile from my patient. The other nurse left the room saying " I can't get her to breast feed I'm going to get a bottle" I taught my patient to breastfeed her baby and when the other nurse returned the baby was eating like a champ. She stormed out and I was later called to the directors office where I was told "there has been a report that you have been massaging women's breasts" I was shocked because I am very careful not to touch even when I do teach breast feeding. Anyhow I explained my teaching techniques for breastfeeding (which do not include me massaging breasts). I was told that I should leave breastfeeding to the nursery.

    I declined to do so and explained that I had only stepped in once the nursery had decided to (against the mother's wishes) resort to the bottle. I was told then that I was only to provide breastfeeding support when other FEMALE nurses had failed. I didn't get an answer when I asked why because we all knew the answer.

    I nearly quit that day but I ran into 2 patients I had taken care of and they thanked me, showed me their babies and told how they were doing all the things I had taught them.

    It is very difficult to reconcile the attitudes displayed by nurses with the attitudes I see from my patients.

    I have a million more stories like this and a new one every day. Other nurses constantly make me to feel that I am out of place.

    Before anyone asks I'll answer the question. "If its so bad why do you stay" I stay because I love my work and I feel it would violate my principals to leave simply because my peers wish me too. I don't cry and complain about it but when I see this issue come up and the arguments made I have to respond.
  4. by   ERN
    Thank you all for the kinds words.....
  5. by   nurs4kids
    ERN, awesome post! Thank you..now THIS idiot understands too .

    DayRay, your post wasn't half bad either. That is what I needed to hear to understand.

    You are both right, it isn't right..nor fair. I have to admit, dayray, as i read your post, I caught myself thinking, "damn, I wish i'd have had a nurse like HIM when I had my kids..".

    My apologies for putting you guys through hell..I truly did not understand, but I honestly wanted to!
    thanks for the insight!
  6. by   cargal
    This has been very enlightening. Thanks DayRay and ERN and all others who have made this thread a testiment to GREAT NURSES.
  7. by   sjoe
    For those who are interested, I have updated my initial (and long) post on page 3 for the final time. It's about how certain social dynamics create a dysfunctional nursing environment that harms us ALL, men and women.

    Thanks to all who gave me more ideas for it as this thread has progressed.
    Last edit by sjoe on Nov 21, '02
  8. by   kmchugh
    Originally posted by nurs4kids
    Now, I do not deny or doubt one thing you've posted above. Nursing school was a nightmare for us all. I went to an all black nursing school and there were things I went through that I KNOW was because of my skin color. HOWEVER, that was nursing school and as we all know, nursing school is not nursing. I have never accused all blacks of being racist just because I had a few racist nursing instructors.
    I have to respectfully disagree here, nurs4kids. You see, if nursing school is the gateway to nursing, then nursing instructors are the gate keepers of the profession. Hence, whatever "isms" (racism, sexism, etc) exist in nursing are often reflected in the nursing instructors we all run into. The problem is often being able to separate an "ism" that is a societal problem from an "ism" that is a problem specific to nursing. In your example, racism is a society wide problem. On the other hand, ANTI MALE sexism seems to be more of a problem specific to female dominated professions (just as anti-female sexism is a problem in male dominated professions). What I was exposed to was not prejudice based on my gender in general. It was gender based prejudice only insofar as a member of that gender trying to break into the "girls club."

    There are other examples, such as the fine post provided by ERN, or the example I gave earlier. Remember? My co-workers with bad backs could beg off from helping with physical activity without much being said. But, if I tried to do so owing to an injury that left me a disabled vet, I was a wimp.

    Now, all that said, allow me one more observation. The female nurses who have an anti-male nurse bias are an extreme minority. So, is anti-male bias a problem in nursing? Well, yes in as much as any gender bias is a problem. Is it the most pressing problem in nursing? Is it even a really big problem in nursing? Not by a long shot.

    Kevin McHugh
  9. by   semstr
    Kevin I like your last statement here, although I don't really like your hypothesis about nursingschool and instructors, but hey, I am pretty biased on that theme of course.

    As an educator/ instructor I have to be honest and say, yes, as with all minorities in a society (in this case the nursing-society, minorities being the male nurse) men are still pretty special in nursing.
    It is getting better (in March 25 new students will begin, 8 men among them), but you can't wave history and fixed ideas away in just a couple of years.

    But we still have to fight with old sisters on the (especially) "womenwards" (yes, they still exist too!) to take our male-students. But most of these women will leave nursing in 1 to 2 years.

    Take care, Renee
  10. by   Glad2behere
    I think Kevin has a good point here. ERN and DayRay as well make some fine points. This is not that pressing of an issue to get all lathered up about. To me it centrifuges down to one very old concept....BE Nice! I have had some extraordinary female nurses teach me procedures and intercede with my patients to help me when they knew I was bombed by patient load. Most of them go out of their way to help, and I do the same for them. I have always felt warmly welcomed whereever I worked, and yes, I get called often to move folks, or hang blood, give prn meds, or order up from pharmacy, and my forte...talking to families. Granted, I do not work on an L&D unit...and I thank guys like ERN and DayRay for going where they may not necessarily be welcome. If and when issues like theirs arise, solace may be taken that over time and repetition incidents such as those may diminish. I do think it important to say that whatever occupation one is in the occasional bloody nose will be a hazard, as in society as a whole, and is more related to personality confrontations than gender orientation. So I will continue to treat the ladies like ladies and have faith they will perceive me as a gentleman on the unit and let it be known in my words, actions, and example that I am there to give 110%....works for me.
  11. by   researchrabbit
    You know, I prefer female MDs and have encouraged my daughter to see a female MD (I had a couple of VERY bad experiences with male MDs when I was young and cute). I can also say that I've had some very good male MDs who never gave me any problem. But, having had the prior experiences, it took a while for them to win me over.

    HOWEVER, having had several surgeries, a couple of babies and both male and female RNs, it didn't matter what sex the nurse was...except for the one woman who didn't do her job and allowed my foley bag to fill all the way up to the catheter...what a mess that was...

    The RNs (with that one exception) were very professional and I felt comfortable in their care; in fact never even considered the sex because none of the RNs (unlike the bad MDs) brought a sexual aspect to the care I received.
  12. by   Babe
    To all you "GUYS" out there, welcome to nursing, hopeing more of you come on board, your needed for far more than back strength!!! I know lots of men who would have made wounderful nurses had the ranks moved away from the preset ideal that it was a womans job years ago! As men and women we all have our problems but when we come together with open minds and a williness to work together--- great things can and will happen, not because we were male or felmale but because we worked together towards a common goal--- MAKING NURSING what it was ment to be " A NOBLE PROFESSION". Nursing needs to see a lot less back stabbing and a lot more co-operation among its ranks!!!! Thats my 2cents worth anyway!!!!
  13. by   Youda
    I am really glad that this thread got started. Thanks to the guys for all your comments. Just having an awareness of bias towards males will help change the attitude.

    I have a very good friend, male nurse. He is the one who is always called, too. It isn't always about lifting, he is often called to start IVs, because that guy could find blood if he stuck a turnip. He can get a line in when NO ONE else can, almost always on the first stick, after everyone else made a pin cushion out of the patient. Talented, dedicated, and one of the best nurses I've ever been around.

    So why I am mentioning him? Because there wasn't a day that went by that someone -- patient, nurse, or family member -- didn't ask him why would he ever want to be a nurse? Why not be a PA or a doctor? For some reason, he always got the shifts no one else wanted, always got scheduled on holidays, was always given the dirty end of the stick.

    He finally yielded to the pressure and became a physician's assistant. Now he only works for one person: a doctor. The CCU lost the best nurse they'll ever hope to have.

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