I just graduated from an LPN program. I really liked my L&D rotation so I put in an application. The Director is great and she offered me a job working as an LPN in OBGYN/PP and too cross train me as an OB tech. She even offered to pay for an IV certification class and work around my schedule when I start the RN program next fall. OB technicians act like scrub nurses during C-sections, prep patients for sections, start catheters, admit patents and help during deliveries.
I am male and the staff is all women. Today was my first day to "follow" an OB tech and start to learn that part of the job. The tech was great she treated me wonderfully and didn't have a problem with me being male.
Everything was going great my preceptor showed me where things were and I watched as she assisted with a C-section. She is a really good teacher and very nice.
I know that there are going to be some problems as a male working on L&D and especially being that I am the first (that I know of) in this hospital. My first problem popped up today, An RN asked us to strait cath a patient. The patient had been acting a little nervous from the time she was admitted but voiced no concern about me being present. My preceptor asked the patient if she would like for me to step out and of course the patient said yes. I understand that my preceptor was trying to make the patient as comfortable as possible and I'm sure she wasn't being malicious. My thinking is that if I were in the patient's position, I would be uncomfortable with anyone regardless of sex being in the room during such a revealing procedure, if they didn't have to be. Asking if I should leave implies I don't need to be there so if it had been me I would have said no too.
To make things worse a C-section patient came in with her boyfriend so my preceptor and I went to admit and prep her for surgery. As soon as we walked in the boyfriend said "I don't want any F***ing students in here." My preceptor assured him that I wasn't a student that I was a nurse (I'm actually still waiting for my permit so this wasn't entirely true). We continued to ask admission questions and take vitals. When it came time to start prepping the patient my preceptor asked the boyfriend if it was all right if I stayed. The boyfriend once again said he didn't want students in the room. My preceptor tried to explain to him that I wasn't a student but I could tell he wasn't buying it so I volunteered to leave. In this situation I can absolutely see why she asked if I could stay, The boyfriend acted like a person who wasn't afraid to cause trouble and voiced a concern about students but I wonder if I should have done something differently.
I left the room and went to the nurse's station and someone asked if I had been kicked out. The Lead Clinical Nurse overheard and said "See I was afraid this would happen, this is the second time today" she was of course talking about patients not wanting males in the room. I explained to her that the boyfriend thought I was a student but she didn't say anything.
Okay so now that you have read my long-winded story, here are my questions and concerns:
1. I think things will get better when I'm on my own and not an "extra" person in the room. But what if they don't?
2. Should patients be asked if its okay for me to stay if they appear uncomfortable?
3. Should they be asked if it's okay for me to stay if they don't appear uncomfortable with me there?
4. I am concerned about my patient's comfort and privacy but if this keeps up I won't be able to learn my job much less do it. How do I balance that?
5. I'm sure I will run into patients that request a female nurse. How should I deal with this?
6. How much is too much? If I have too many of these situations should I just look for another job?
I really want to work on L&D I like the atmosphere and think I can make a difference there.
Id also like to hear any other suggestions or opinions you have in general (both good and bad) about male nurses in L&D/ women's services.