Nursing school: Bizarre practice in learning to bed bath.. - page 3

by Cat_LPN

17,045 Views | 102 Comments

This is too much: :uhoh3: My significant other came home the other day from nursing school (3rd day) stating that he is going to need to bring his bathing suit to school because they are learning to give bed baths and will... Read More


  1. 12
    For those of you who think you can understand the patient's perspective without actually having to spend a few minutes in their shoes: Have you ever had someone else brush your teeth? It's typically awful; the toothbrush gets rammed into your cheeks and gums, and they never seem to get the gunk completely off your teeth. Bed baths can be totally ineffective (come on, don't lightly brush that wash cloth against my skin...how exactly is that going to get me clean?) and painfully humiliating (can you shut the door and drape me, please?).

    If you've been a patient who has needed these things, I suspect you'd agree that it's very eye opening to be the patient. There are little details you don't necessarily think about as the provider. It's not just empathy, it's about truly experiencing the patient's experience, even if it's just for this brief moment.

    And in any case, it's what, 15 minutes of lab? Is that really anything to get up in arms about?
    elkpark, Libitina, talaxandra, and 9 others like this.
  2. 0
    We didn't have to do this for my nurse aide class, and we won't be learning bed baths in nursing school since we all are nurse aides.

    We did partial bed baths, which felt very weird. Though I thought someone feeding me was even more awkward. They said we were smart enough to understand how to wash other parts of the body, so there was no need to do a full bed bath.

    It's just not the same when you're bathing a student. Actually, the male in the class would make jokes because he was uncomfortable. Of course, when we had to do bed baths in clinical, it was all professional.

    What's more awkward for the patient is a shower. At least in a bed bath parts of you are covered up.

    I personally don't think that bathing a student will ever make a person fully understand how someone feels when they cannot bathe themselves. I don't think anyone could really understand, unless they've been there, what it's like to be completely helpless and have to rely on a stranger to change their depends, bathe them, feed them, and change their linens.
    Last edit by happy2learn on Aug 27, '10
  3. 7
    We practiced on manequins with pretend water. It was sufficient to learn. It's inappropriate to force everyone to get into swimsuits in front of all their classmates. Yes, it shows the patient perspective, but the patients do not go to school with the CNAs/nurses that bathe them and the nurses/doctors that examine them. The relationship is completely different, and that's what makes it inappropriate.
  4. 2
    My nursing program did this. We were separated, men in one group, women in another, so that it wasn't overly awkward. As others have stated, it wasn't to teach HOW to give a bed bath, it was so that we UNDERSTOOD and EMPATHIZED with the pt receiving a bed bath. It's very uncomfortable to trust another person to bathe you, and I actually knew the girls in my group fairly well. We also did the occupied bed change and bed making lab... but that was actually kind of fun. (especially when we "trapped" each other in the linens, ha!)
    PurpleLVN and Otessa like this.
  5. 9
    I've given birth twice, had a whole gaggle of med students watch my crotch as I pushed babies out, had foley insertions, have had my cervix checked multiple times by multiple people, had one resident try to manually turn my baby's head/body vaginally, had my bare butt high in the air as I was attempting to get my baby's head off my spine due to the pain...

    When you're in the hospital, you expect professionalism, some semblance of privacy, and everything is being done to help you medically.

    When you're with your classmates, you see them everyday, you see them socially, you are acquaintances or friends. It is NOT the same, and I'm surprised by some of the responses here. IMO, it doesn't foster empathy because you know that the context is not the same. One might feel it is just a ridiculous exercise that in no way resembles actually being a patient. (And, I would agree!)

    I'm not a particularly modest person, but even I wouldn't wear a bathing suit in that situation. I would have a little bit more covering me. Yet, I have no problem wearing a bathing suit in front of dozens of strangers at the pool. The difference? Context..and the fact that my classmates hands would be all over me!
  6. 2
    I think its ridiculous. My nursing school didn't make us do this (maybe b/c it was a big university) and I couldn't imagine doing that! Honestly, if you can't imagine what the patient is going through when you bathe them, then maybe you shouldn't be a nurse. They dont make us intubate and extubate each other so that we understand what the vented patient experiences. It's crap like this that makes nurses so undervalued in the healthcare system. What if they told Dr's "well we are going to take out your appendix so that you can sympathize with the patient who is in surgery."

    I think they should be concentrating on more important things, like, oh, medications and patho/pharm. THATS what our new grads are lacking in.
    cherrybreeze and kiszi like this.
  7. 0
    We were required to bring soap and lotion and were asked to dress in a tank top and shorts. It was funny to us because it was so ODD! It was our 1st semester but after that you can imagine that we were close as a family. It wasn't that big of a deal to us. We were shocked but it wasn't a big enough concern to address it with our nursing faculty.
  8. 7
    If you couldn't handle washing a classmate in a bathing suit then how would you handle an unclothed patient? You have to become accustomed to touching another person, albeit in a professional manner.
    Libitina, Fiona59, PurpleLVN, and 4 others like this.
  9. 6
    We did it in my nursing school, and I thought it very appropriate. We learned how to drape for modesty, how to hold and fold the washcloth without dripping, where to put the towels and when, how much soap and water to use etc. the order of what to do first and last, it's also an excellent way to really evaluate your pt and take a look at their skin, do ROM if ordered etc. and when we were in bed as the pt. we found out a bit what it felt like to have someone else taking care of you, how chilled you can get if not covered right, how rough someone might be with their scrubing how much work it is just being the pt. The basic skills I learned in that single one afternoon class have not changed since 1972, giving a bath to a dummy is not anything like giving one to an actual human.

    We gave each other 'partial bed baths' just face, arms, legs and back from the waist up. We had on shorts and sleeveless t's no big deal.

    Our nursing instructor gave us a demo using one of us on how to do it without ever exposing the patient, it left a lasting impression of efficiency and modesty and I can still see it in my minds eye today even though it took place one afternoon 4 decades ago.

    I think it's important that we get just a "taste" of what it's like to perform such an intimate task and be a patient before we are foisted on the real thing.

    I would think since the nursing schools of today have fewer clinical hours, these types of labs would be invaluable.
  10. 0
    Our instructors threatened to do that to us when I was in nursing school. They even had some former students support it. It turned out like we had all knew (and hoped).... a load of BS.

    We DID however, have to brush each others teeth, make a bed with someone in it, and practice bed to chair and vice versa transfers (During one of these a student was ALMOST dropped, I happened to have a camera and got a shot as just the right moment ).


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