Are the elderly just happy to see a white guy?

  1. I have been a nurse for three years now, all of my time has been spent in LTC I am the only white male nurse on the payroll at my facility--which is not terribly surprising. Even ten years ago the female to male nurse ratio was something like 15 to 20:1 with male nurses preferring to take administrative or research positions. Most of my coworkers are minorities and over half speak English as a second language; every single elder on my unit is US born and white.
    At the risk of sounding pretentious, most of my elders and their families love having me as their nurse. I do my best and am always looking for ways to improve but I am honestly having trouble discerning genuine praise from the relief of seeing a person who has the same skin color and presumably same cultural background as them.
    My annual review on the other hand was a testament to mediocrity. I of course received high marks in customer service but my performance with daily operations needs improving. I frequently forget to chart my weekly skin body audits on the same day as the shower (I always look, but if there is no skin deficit I tend to forget about it); I also sometimes fall behind with MDS assessments. I don't always get to my accuchecks before my elders start to eat and more than once I had to be coached on using SBAR format when communicating with providers. And then there are medication and treatment errors; there was this one time I used an Enluxtra dressing in place of a Xeroform dressing and ripped this guy's fistula open. There was so much blood this guy's room smelled like a slaughterhouse (he wasn't harmed at least). When I reported this to my nurse manager he bellowed something like "Jesus Christ! Those don't even sound alike, why did you do that?!"
    Despite all of this, my elders (even the guy mentioned above) think I am doing well but that appraisal is in sharp contrast with my annual review.
    No this isn't a humblebrag and no I don't have any white guilt. I think it is pretty clear that my elders treat me differently than my colleagues, but what do I do knowing this? All I have thought of so far is to make an effort to say "good job" and "thank you" to my coworkers in front of as many of the elders as I can, and whenever an elder tells me that I am their favorite nurse I have a knee-jerk reply: "that is very kind of you to say, but I like to think of us as a team" or some variation of that. Have any of you noticed any preferential treatment given to white males in the geriatric setting?
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   NurseCard
    No, I really haven't.

    To be brutally honest, I would be a whole lot more worried about improving
    your actual performance, than whether or not your residents like you because
    you are a white male, or whether they like you better than your coworkers.
    I mean, truly whether your coworkers are liked by the residents is
    irrelevant, as long as they are being well taken care of.

    I mean.. you used the wrong type of dressing and ripped a fistula open and
    the person bled all over the place. Doesn't this bother you? I mean, you
    honestly don't sound that worried about the mistakes you make. We all
    make mistakes, lord I've made some doozies. You just sound kinda
    non chalant about it! Again, that's the tone of your post.

    Don't worry about whether the residents like you too much. Just
    say thank you when they compliment you, and then go on doing
    your job the BEST that you can!
  4. by   llg
    Part of what you are perceiving as preference for a "white guy" might be that they have a preference for someone they can hear clearly. You said that many people on the staff speak English as a second language -- which might mean they speak with an accent. Combine that with the high incidence of hearing loss in the elderly ... and you have patients who have a difficult time communicating with many on your staff. They might like you because they can communicate with your more easily.

    That may be something you can work to improve throughout the institution.
  5. by   kfostercma
    For clarification: I do not have a carefree attitude towards my work performance, I feel quite privileged to be actively using my education and I show gratitude for that by always looking for ways to improve. I listed my mistakes/need for coaching in some areas to emphasize the point that I am not as talented as my clients seem to think.
  6. by   GrandmaSqueak
    As llg stated, resident hearing loss may have something to do with it. High frequencies are among the first to go, so it is easier to hear lower (male) voices.

    My experience has been that the elderly ladies often do not want male caregivers. They might be more receptive to a male nurse, but they often don't like the male CNA's for pericare or showers. Of course, there are exceptions.

    I'm glad you are using your education and looking for ways to improve your performance.

    Never surrender. Never give up!
  7. by   nursel56
    Quote from kfostercma
    For clarification: I do not have a carefree attitude towards my work performance, I feel quite privileged to be actively using my education and I show gratitude for that by always looking for ways to improve. I listed my mistakes/need for coaching in some areas to emphasize the point that I am not as talented as my clients seem to think.
    You seem like a cool guy, and possibly not even white (the anonymouse internet and all that) but seriously, I'm really not seeing any relevance to the race issue in your narrative at all.

    I've never had a manager who bellowed, darn it all. One thing I predict, you'll never mix up wound care dressings again.

    I would keep the slaughterhouse metaphors on the downlow. Unfortunately, what we think is "fun" is often interpreted by others very differently.
  8. by   Kratoswife
    Quote from kfostercma
    For clarification: I do not have a carefree attitude towards my work performance, I feel quite privileged to be actively using my education and I show gratitude for that by always looking for ways to improve. I listed my mistakes/need for coaching in some areas to emphasize the point that I am not as talented as my clients seem to think.


    I'm glad that you've said this. Ofcourse what you're noticing isn't all in your head.

    This happens with my friend all the time. He loves it. He talks about it , laughs about it.

    I'm glad that you're very self aware about things like this. Most are not or are in denial.

    I was recently working at a LTC but left, what do you love about the LTC that you're working with?
  9. by   coolrndude
    Sound like you are asking if you have "white privileged" after reading all of that and realized that you are well liked and have a job. The answer is yes. Anyone else even a white female would have been fired.
  10. by   IndigoFlame90
    Aside from being a native English speaker, he presumably has a lower voice than his female colleagues. I'm a woman with a very low voice (I sing tenor and get 'sir' a lot on the phone, doesn't bother me and I don't correct them unless they ask my name or it's otherwise relevant) and have an advantage over most other women in terms of 'being heard' because we lose the ability to hear higher frequencies throughout life (newborns can even hear higher pitches than young adults). When I was getting over a cold a couple months ago I could do "You're a mean one, Mister Grinch" note-perfect and went several days without a single resident complaining that I mumbled.

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