Nurse Educator Chronicles: Male Student Nurse on the OB Floor

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    It was a happy productive morning on the postpartum floor. I was busy with my group of clinical students overseeing “BUBBLEHE” assessments, reinforcing breastfeeding techniques with the new moms, performing non-stress tests on the antepartal patients, drawing labs, hanging IV maintenance fluids, and administering medications. This was a pleasant unit with all the new mothers and babies.

    My euphoria was rudely interrupted when a staff nurse approached me with concerns about one of my students. “Do you know your student is just sitting over there, doing nothing?” She glanced in an accusatory manner towards my lone male student “Catfish,” who was quietly occupying a seat in an inconspicuous area at the farthest edge of the unit.

    “Catfish” was entirely bald, short and stocky, in his forties, with an engaging smile and twinkling blue eyes. He was a man of few words, but very gentle and polite. True to his nickname, he was a commercial fisherman, who was picking up nursing as a second career.

    “Catfish” appeared utterly miserable and forlorn as he sat nearly hunched over. His eyes were devoid of the usual sparkle, staring vacantly at the floor. He looked as if he hoped the earth would open up and swallow him whole.

    “What’s wrong, Catfish?” I asked. “Why are you just sitting here?” With that inquiry, the saddest expression swept across his face and he seemed about to cry. I'd seen that look before. It was classic for a male student on the OB floor and I almost had to bite my lip to keep from smiling.

    “I’m so sorry, Ma’am,” was his doleful reply, “But neither my assigned patient nor anybody else will let me in their room!” I found two or three tasks to occupy his time during the remainder of the shift on the unit. But, overall, he was correct – very few moms would allow him in their rooms, even with a female escort. And, there was nothing that I, as a clinical instructor, could do about it.

    Catfish suffered through the rest of the two-week rotation on the unit, trying to stay out of the way of as many new moms as possible. Not too soon enough for him, his stint in OB purgatory mercifully came to an end. He then very gratefully returned to the blissful clinical surroundings of the medical-surgical floor.
    Last edit by VickyRN on Nov 8, '09
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    Nurse Educator; from US
    Specialty: 16 year(s) of experience in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds

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  3. by   iteachob
    Oh yeah, been there, done that. Usually, though, while I occasionally have a patient that refuses a male student, I can nearly always find an accepting one. I usually have more success with the multiparas.......and if not.....there's always the nursery (most of my male students seem to love it there).
  4. by   blueheaven
    This is one attitude that new moms have that I just DON't understand!! You have male OB-GYNs, anesthesia persons, etc. This is just me though, maybe I should ask my daughter who just had a baby and see if she gives any insight. Personally for me, not a big deal to have a male student nurse if I'm a patient.
  5. by   FLArn
    My DH had the same type of experience during LPN school. His instructor had him do the book work and demo in the lab, but had him do 2 rotations in newborn nursery! The nurses and babies loved him! He tells the story that when rocking a newborn, all of a sudden he felt a wet feeling around his tunic pocket. Baby had latched onto his Lifesavers and was happily sucking away! He never lived down that he was trying to "breastfeed" the babies!:imbar
  6. by   mamamerlee
    Isn't is strange that most women have no problem with MALE doctors, but balk at a male nurse? If there was true intimate care going on, maybe a second person to 'chaperone' might be okay. But vital signs? Assessment? The student needs to get as much experience as possible, and OB/Postpartum/L&D are all part of the program.
    Things haven't changed much in 35 years!!!
  7. by   JaneyW
    I am also teaching clinical on an OB floor at the moment--but I have 2 male students. In our program, the students are required to perform a competent postpartum assessment on a patient in order to pass the course. I know they are fish out of water to a certain extent, but these same male students have been quite proficient on the MS floors bathing and assessing female patients. We have an extensive rotation and are only one week in. One of my male students has successfully completed his PP assessment for competency and the other will when he reaches the PP floor, I'm sure (he was in L&D the first week). I know we cannot force the pts to accept our students, but we and they can do a lot toward making it acceptable and more comfortable. Staying professional and confident, choosing patients who are multips, sometimes it is best if family is also at the bedside--especially if that family is in medicine. These men are probably not going to choose a career in this area, but we should expect them to participate as fully as possible as always. Most of our competencies involve the newborn and this is not as tricky an issue. I agree that this is tough, Vicki, and I feel for these guys!
  8. by   Hyper_toph_emia
    That's so sad!! I've heard about that happening to many male students, which scares me since I'm starting nursing school in January! I will happily engage myself in ob clinicals if I'm given the chance! I wish there wasn't such a negative conotation with males and child birth
  9. by   canoehead
    I don't think anyone should ask if he can help- just notify the patient that "this is Catfish, a nursing student, and he's going to be following along and helping me today." So much depends on how the patient is approached.
  10. by   Orca
    I don't think anyone should ask if he can help- just notify the patient that "this is Catfish, a nursing student, and he's going to be following along and helping me today." So much depends on how the patient is approached.
    This was the way it was done during my OB rotation, and I never had a problem with anyone saying "no".
  11. by   Pinkster
    Quote from canoehead
    I don't think anyone should ask if he can help- just notify the patient that "this is Catfish, a nursing student, and he's going to be following along and helping me today." So much depends on how the patient is approached.
    This is how any nursing student should be introduced. It shows that there is confidence in the student and his/her abilities.
    We have one male in our class, and he was able to work with all of his OB patients during this rotation, and has only had maybe one or two patient refusals throughout the whole 3 semesters of clinicals, which is Par for any of us.

    I am sorry to hear about this poor man, I hope he does not develop a hate for the specialty just because of the particular experience.
  12. by   nursenow
    A typical experience for many male nurses. It often doesn't matter how the patient and husband is approached. I had wives OK with male students being in the room but husbands that wouldn't allow it. I was at a hospital in victorville, Ca and the Mexican husbands would freak out if they thought a male student "saw" their wives. The nurse me calls it a cultural thing while struggling against the blue collar me that wants to call it weird.
  13. by   Smitty08
    That was a very uncomfortable rotation for me too, years ago. It felt all uphill on OB!! I was glad to see this story, thanks.
  14. by   DuluthMike
    The entire census objected to a male nursing student? Perhaps he or his instructor approached the situation too apprehensively. I have never had a problem in my OB rotations with patients.