Avoiding patients hitting on you

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Does anyone have experience with patients hitting on you? I am starting nursing school this fall after finishing all my pre-requisites and my parents(both with experience in medical feild) warned me that patients or even medical associates will try to flirt or hit on me. I am young (17), and have little expeience in this area. I want to think that everyone will assume a professional relationship with me, but I do want to be prepared for the worst. I am planning to purchase a purity ring, which I plan to use as a fallback if a professional manner fails. Any tips, stories that you guys can share? Advice or tips?

Nolli

236 Posts

Most of my patients have been well-behaved in that respect. However, I've had a few that made comments and had inappropriate behavior like grabbing my hand and kissing it. When someone does that I redraw the line. I am polite about it (didn't want to get kicked out of my program or fired from my job), but very firm that it is inappropriate behavior and they need to stop. I've found that if I project confidence when talking to them about it vs. being shy and embarrassed people seem to know they won't find any quarter with me for the behavior. That said, some of my classmates have had issues even after confrontation about behavior, so it doesn't always work.

Ultimately, I have not seen it happen a lot. I wouldn't let it be your main focus.

cardiaccath456

11 Posts

Sometimes patients will hit on you, as well as doctors, nurses, dietary, housekeeping, etc. If you are attractive and around, some people will hit on you. Don't worry about it. It will probably be the least of your concerns as a nurse. Act professional and focus on why you are there. I don't think the purity ring is necessary. Most people won't know or care that you are wearing a purity ring. Learn how to have good boundaries and be assertive.

I agree with PPs. People hitting on you should be the least of your concerns in nursing school. And a purity ring doesn't deter people from hitting on you. A lot of people probably won't even notice you wearing one. Be kind but firm, and let them know you're not some timid girl who will just tolerate any sort of behavior. Whatever profession you enter, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation such as this, you'll have to learn how to act and handle it with professionalism. Now is better than never. Good luck in nursing school!

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

don't forget that you can tell someone they make you feel uncomfortable. If they continue the behavior, talk to a supervisor. This can be sexual harrassment.

verene, MSN

1,790 Posts

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

I've had patients hit on me a few times, but it really doesn't happen that often. Reinforcing professional boundaries and telling the person that it is an inappropriate comment usually go quite far in stopping the behavior. Occasionally though you just shrug it off... I'm really not going to get all worked up about a 90 year old man on hospice making a mildly flirtatious comment if he's sweet about it. My general rule is that if the behavior makes me uncomfortable I put a stop to it, particularly if it is patient I know has boundary issues. If I don't feel uncomfortable or threatened by the comment, and the patient is well aware of boundaries, I leave it be. Usually it's not worth the fuss. If I have a repeated problem with an individual I'll bring it up with my supervisor.

Lev, MSN, RN, NP

9 Articles; 2,803 Posts

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner. Has 10 years experience.

If you maintain your professional boundaries, there should not be any problems. True what the poster above said about purity rings not being a deterrent. If there is any infringement in the boundaries you set for yourself, you must make it very clear and quickly that they are not tolerated. I one had a patient complement me on my legs. I told him "that's not an appropriate comment." He apologized. This was coming from a patient who was completely alert and oriented. You wouldn't go to your hot young male doctor and complement him on his abs! Obviously, I am much more forgiving with my dementia patients.

nurseprnRN, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 5,114 Posts

This is no different from people hitting on you in line at the bank, in the grocery store, or on the bus. You can't ever completely avoid it, but you can (and will) learn to respond appropriately in a way that feels comfortable to you. This is a life skill that you will learn as you experience it, if high school hasn't given you enough practice yet.

It also happens sometimes with dementia, as above, and in the cases of men whose illness or injuries have left them with their self-image threatened (I am not making fun of them- some of them have good reason to worry). You will learn more about this in school, and with that perspective will come knowledge of how to deal.

The well-meant advice from your parents may be grounded in their concerns that you have not, in fact, had those opportunities for learning in your high school. If they were older people, like your grandparents or older, I'd say that their advice might stem from the old, old, OLD stereotype of nurses being sexually experienced and more susceptible to/willing for seduction. Them days are long gone, thanks to your foremothers who have been working hard for women's equality since at least the 70s and giving us a legacy of being able to speak up for ourselves. You got this.

I certainly wouldn't stress over it, or go into it thinking that nursing is one long series of sexual harassment opportunities. It certainly isn't. :)

Specializes in ICU/ Surgery/ Nursing Education. Has 9 years experience.

Your nursing program should prep you a little for situations like this. I know the program I was in spent a little time on the subject. It really was not a problem except for the State mental hospital rotation. One of the women in my class was grabbed and that behavior was dealt with swiftly and firmly by the staff.

Best thing is to deal it in a professional manner but be firm. If it happen a second time with either a patient or a staff member then alert your clinical instructor. Even if it happens once make them aware but the second time should be addressed by staff/instructor. The purity ring wont do anything, sorry. There are people like me that wouldn't even know what that was unless told. Also our program would not allow any jewelry unless it was a wedding ring and even then it was not recommended. Rings catch on gloves and have a tendency to tear them.

Relax, you can do this.

laKrugRN

479 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac, ER, Pediatrics, Corrections.

Boundaries are huge. You must let the patient know that their behavior is inappropriate and why. Set limits and PLEASE if you are ever touched inappropriately REPORT IT!

angikat

67 Posts

Specializes in geriatrics, psych. Has 20+ years experience.
Does anyone have experience with patients hitting on you? I am starting nursing school this fall after finishing all my pre-requisites and my parents(both with experience in medical feild) warned me that patients or even medical associates will try to flirt or hit on me. I am young (17), and have little expeience in this area. I want to think that everyone will assume a professional relationship with me, but I do want to be prepared for the worst. I am planning to purchase a purity ring, which I plan to use as a fallback if a professional manner fails. Any tips, stories that you guys can share? Advice or tips?

Yes it will happen. I was very young when I got out of LPN school and I had this happen a lot. I also had patients to try and set me up on dates with their sons or fathers of my younger patients try and set me and my patient up. It was very awkward. I also was asked out by coworkers and others from different departments. It really got tiresome. On top of this I would often hear from elderly patients that they had requested different nurses because I couldn't be older than 16 so they just knew I couldn't be a nurse. If you are young (or even look younger) then it's almost like the door is open for others to assume you are immature and won't mind. Just stand your ground and let these people know you are in a professional position and intend to conduct yourself as such no matter what your age.

Sent from my iPhone using allnurses. Angi/LPN (?RN)

binzy

29 Posts

Lol I had a pt kiss me during my assessment. You know the nerve 11 shoulder shrug. Smh I did not try that again on him. I just kept going and brushed it off. Igored it.