Bathing Classmates and Other Personal Boundaries?

  1. 5
    I've read a few threads on this and honestly I am shocked. I was unaware that students had to practice anything on each other that was invasive or required them to wear any clothing besides scrubs or other professional attire. This concept did not exist for me until I read threads in which people spoke about these practices.

    I do not think it is right for students to have to wear clothing that exposes them, even if it is "just" shorts/bathing suit/bra/sports bra/tank top. Nor do I think it is right for students to have to be examined or touched in any way by another student. If we're going to make it about why I personally don't like it, it is because I don't wear shorts other than when I swim, they are usually knee-length, and I don't swim very often (last time was 2-3 years ago). I don't like to expose my legs for various reasons and I don't want to have to purchase clothing to show off a body part that I don't ever show off, hence why I don't own that type of clothing.

    In previous posts there were people to said it wasn't a big deal, and others who think students should have to because their predecessors had to (and they had to do much more to each other than just bathing- such as catheter insertion, breast/vaginal exams, anal swabbing, etc.), and yet others say it is so that students can learn what it is like to be a patient. Many of these people are saying that those who take issue with it aren't cut out for nursing. This makes no sense to me.

    Other than helping out your classmates by providing a body so they can practice and do their exam on, what benefit does this give you? You will make a friend in class who may or may not help you later? So the benefit here is teamwork? I find it highly unlikely that I will be working with the classmate after I graduate and I don't feel that it is my duty to let someone invade my personal space just because the school we are at doesn't use mannequins and real patients. A student is not the same thing as a licensed professional and I don't want inexperienced people touching me or using my body to practice things like injections or catheters or even bathing. Once they are licensed then I know I can trust that they are being professional and held responsible, until then they are no different than someone in my A&P class going for a biology degree.

    None of this means I will have a problem with other people's bodies or caring for them. My own personal level of comfort for MY body does not mean I won't be able to do my job and do what I need to when caring for another person. My own body being exposed is not something that will help me when I am bathing a patient because I will never be bathed by a patient and I will never be unclothed in front of a patient.

    It seems that people who went to school years ago had to do more to each other than the schools today and if you respond to this I would love to hear what years you went to school (your age is not important) and what your experience and opinions are.

    P.S. This is not about a male/female thing, as I think either gender would bother me just as much.
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  4. 146 Comments so far...

  5. 3
    If you are in school right now, please, speak with an advisor or an instructor. But when you do so, explain your own personal position without downgrading or denigrating the program. If you state that wearing a swimsuit or other brief clothing violates your personal standards for modesty, you're likely to get further than if you attack the idea philosophically and cast judgment on the entire practice.
  6. 2
    I agree that invasive procedures shouldn't be done on other students, such as caths, etc., and thank goodness our school doesn't let us do invasive procedures on that to each other (that's why we have Sim peeps).

    As for baths, I agree with the other people who stated that it is good to go outside of your comfort zone because you will understand what it is like being a patient (most of them are not comfortable being bathed by a stranger either). It's an empathy thing. I would never expose myself to my fellow students either and that is not something that is required (at least in my school). They can wash my arm, leg and face, etc., but they are not seeing all that I have to offer.

    Stating that, the bed bath was not the most uncomfortable for me. It was actually having someone else brush my teeth that made me most uncomfortable. We had to sit on our hands while they did it. But, again, that was an empathy thing (putting myself in the patient's shoes).

    If you are that uncomfortable, talk to an instructor about it. But I'm sure that you will have to go with the flow. Good luck and know that many students are going to be just as uncomfortable as you are!
    Norwaynurse and misket like this.
  7. 1
    I would hardly consider a bed bath with clothing on behind a curtain invasive. Some times we have to go out of our comfort zone, I was the one that volunteered to get a bath by our teacher in front of the who class. Some times the best way to be empathetic is to experience it yourself.

    I took a beginning midwifery course in which we had to do pelvic exams on each other. We were all nervous about it but once it happened it was not that bad I am glad it happened. Since then I am so much more comfortable with my own body and can have empathy for women that receive sterile vaginal exams from me during labor. I have had people tell me that my cervical exam did not hear at all after I got report from the last shift that the patient was practically crawling off the bed when they did the check.
    elkpark likes this.
  8. 23
    Quote from brownhairedgal
    A student is not the same thing as a licensed professional and I don't want inexperienced people touching me or using my body to practice things like injections or catheters or even bathing.
    And yet, by signing up for nursing school, that is exactly what you are asking members of the hospitalized general public to do -- let you, an unlicensed, inexperienced person, practice invasive and intimate procedures on them -- what do you think clinical is? I guess, for me, the question is how strongly can you (legitimately) object to doing something, yourself, that you're expecting other people (strangers!) to be willing to do for you?
    llaura, gpatry, Conqueror+, and 20 others like this.
  9. 5
    It sounds like this is causing you quite a bit of anxiety. Have you talked to anyone at your school about what is actually expected of students in lab?

    I understand that you are uncomfortable having unlicensed, inexperienced people touching you, but remember that you will be expecting the patients at your school's clinical sites to let the inexperienced, unlicensed you touch them...

    I am always grateful for the folks that allow me to take care of them for my schooling :redpinkhe
    misket, Eclectic1, minirn, and 2 others like this.
  10. 0
    Our school doesn't require this thankfully but I think the main reason it would be uncomfortable for me personally is that I would have to see these fellow students everyday.

    However, as the two people above me have stated, it's hard to argue your point when patients in the hospital are going to have you doing personal examinations on them. I'm sure those people are comfortable in front of strangers, especially STUDENTS but it's gotta be done. I haven't started clinicals yet but I know that I'm probably not going to be comfortable doing a breast exam on someone whether they be a patient or a student so I guess the thought behind not agreeing with it makes you a bad nurse is that if you don't feel comfortable touching students you might know, how can you feel comfortable touching complete strangers.
  11. 2
    Quote from brownhairedgal
    My own body being exposed is not something that will help me when I am bathing a patient because I will never be bathed by a patient and I will never be unclothed in front of a patient.
    You have the right to refuse anything you want. Your program has the right to allow you to refuse somewhere else.
    Kevin RN08 and minirn like this.
  12. 0
    i think it is stupid to bathe each other, comon! that is comon sense! we have been doing that since kinder garden...!!! there might be an order but whatever! you will get it right on your first try with a patient!!!

    i do though agree with using real people = students to learn how to use the Hoyer lift, or how to change a bed with a patient in it, even to role play a case study... but that bathing thing... its plain stupid IMHO
  13. 12
    Quote from helpingothersinlife
    i think it is stupid to bathe each other, comon! that is comon sense! we have been doing that since kinder garden...!!! there might be an order but whatever! you will get it right on your first try with a patient!!!

    i do though agree with using real people = students to learn how to use the Hoyer lift, or how to change a bed with a patient in it, even to role play a case study... but that bathing thing... its plain stupid IMHO
    Umm, we're talking about bed baths (bathing a person in bed), which is not something most people have done even once before nursing school (let alone "doing that since kindergarten"), and there is correct technique that has to be learned (and incorrect technique to be avoided). It is a necessary skill that has to be learned and practiced in school.
    gpatry, Conqueror+, afallgaier, and 9 others like this.


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