#metoomovement, General Hospital and Nurses
The ABC soap opera General Hospital is spotlighting a #metoomovement story line involving two female staff members, including an RN vs. a physician. Learn how sexual harassment affects you too!
For any of you who have ever followed soap operas, there is one that is picking up national steam, regarding the #metoomovement. I am referring to General Hospital, an ABC mainstay for the past 55 years. The #metoomovement that was started in Hollywood when actresses revealed that they had been sexually harassed and even attacked and remained silent to get roles is now a part of a soap opera storyline. GH is tackling the #metoomovement and two of the women accusing a doctor of sexual harassment and a coerced sexual relationship are a pre-med student and an RN.
Do the Math
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, women account for almost 50 percent of students in medical schools today. Recent statistics show that more than 33 percent of doctors are women. Contrast that with 1966, when 7 percent of new physicians were female. In addition, almost half of today's interns and residents are female. It is no surprise that women outnumber men in nursing. Data from the US Census show that in 2011, women accounted for 3.2 million working nurses in the US compared to 330,000 male nurses. Despite these figures, sexual harassment remains a problem nationwide.
A Common Problem
Despite all the publicity regarding these issues, this common problem is a workplace issue, not just a women's issue. Twenty-five percent of women experience sexual harassment on the job. Surprisingly, almost 94% of women do not report the harassment. According to the Joint Commission on Healthcare (JCAHO), all healthcare facilities are required to have a sexual harassment policy on file. This is needed to keep their facility accredited.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) which is the voice for 3 million nurses in this country is also committed to stopping sexual harassment. According to their website, the ANA is a supporter of two growing movements. #EndNurseAbuse, which addresses issues of workplace abuse against nurses which includes sexual harassment is the first one. #TimesUpNow is the second movement which also wants to go a step further by addressing issues like responsibility for sexual harassment at work as well as what happens to the perpetrator.
The show is going full throttle and introduced a #GHtoo hashtag on June 13th. The pre-med student, Kiki, portrayed by Hayley Erin, is the focus of the storyline. She was mentored by Dr. Bensch, (James DePaiva) and was accepted into the pre-med program. Kiki then enters the 'Shadow Program' and accompanies him and other physicians on rounds. She possibly bypasses more qualified candidates. Kiki was also a nursing assistant when all this happened. She realizes that her looks and his attraction to her are the impetus behind her getting into the prestigious program but accepts his help anyway. When Dr. Bensch tells her that she can fix a bad evaluation he wrote about her by sleeping with him, she draws a line in the sand and decides to take him to human resources and then sue him in court. Nothing is done in human resources and Dr. Bensch continues working. She has an ally in this case, the RN Francesca (Celesta DeAstis) who accuses Dr. Bensch of a coerced sexual relationship. When she finds out that Kiki is afraid her case will fall apart without another employee at the hospital to lend credence to her story she steps forward.
Blaming the Victim
At one point, before the push from Dr. Bensch to sleep with him, Kiki tells him she is quitting the shadow program due to his attention. Dr. Bensch then tells her to continue in the program and gives her a weak apology for his "mixed signals". Kiki does not display pride in her accomplishments because she knows how Bensch perceives her.
Dr. Bensch maintains that the rumors were not true about him. He tries to make Kiki doubt her self- worth, by telling her that other male doctors won't want to work with her and that her future career as a physician will go down the tubes before it even gets off the ground. This also happened in the Hollywood #metoomovement. Liam Neeson and even Catherine Deneuve were of the mindset that a "witch hunt" was happening against men.
The hospital culture now has more women represented among its' ranks than in the past. This storyline is one that should be of concern to women, and health care workers in general. Just because you wear scrubs, and glamor is the last thing on your mind, you are not immune.
Bodenheimer, R. How America's longest-running soap opera is talking about #MeToo. The Lily website. Published June 29, 2018. Accessed July 25, 2018.
Women are now a majority of entering medical students nationwide-Washington Post by Michael Alison Chandler Published January 22, 2018. Accessed August 1, 2018.
Being a Doctor Is Hard. It's Harder for Women-New York Times
By Dhruv Khullar Published Dec. 7, 2017. Accessed August 1, 2018
#MeToo in medicine: Women, harassed in hospitals and operating rooms, await reckoning nbcnews.com special report website. Published Feb 23, 2018. Accessed August 1, 2018.
Male Nurses Becoming More Commonplace, Census Bureau Reports. US Census Bureau website. Male Nurses Becoming More Commonplace, Census Bureau Reports Published February 25, 2013. Accessed August 1, 2018.
ANA Addresses Sexual Harassment as Part of #EndNurseAbuse Initiative. ANA website. ANA Addresses Sexual Harassment as Part of #EndNurseAbuse Initiative Published Feb 1st, 2018. Accessed August 1, 2018.Last edit by tnbutterfly on Aug 8
Poll: Does the #metoomovement affect you?
About Debi Fischer, BSN, RN
Debi Fischer RN, BA, BSN, MSW, LSCW is a nurse in a surgical oncology step down unit. Prior to that she worked in orthopedics and neurology. She has earned a master’s degree in social work and is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Joined: Jun '14; Posts: 66; Likes: 64Aug 8I have watch GH in the distant past. Nice that they are tackling some difficult issues. ThanksAug 8I haven't watched it since the '80s (my mom watched it every day!)
Glad they've improved their tackling of the subject since Luke and Laura.Aug 8The #MeToo movement affects all of us, even if we're one of the 75% (it is difficult for me to believe the percentage is that HIGH) who have never been subject to sexual harassment at work. I was sexually harassed long before nurses woreto work. Glamour wasn't part of the job then, either. My manager, a middle-aged and overweight woman who wasn't particularly attractive was sexually harassed at work also. I don't know if was the same physicians; it probably doesn't matter. Making a stink about it in those days got the woman fired rather than the man. My manager shared her story, I believe, to keep me from making the stink that would have gotten me fired.
It's not about youth and beauty; it's about power. Yes, the pre-med student on General Hospital and the nurse who Dr. Bensch targeted are young and beautiful. But perhaps the storyline does us all a disservice by implying that only the young and beautiful are sexually harassed. Perhaps they should show Epiphany dealing with the disrespect given an older, overweight woman who isn't traditionally beautiful. (Or maybe not, because Max and Milo would just fit the offender with cement shoes and deal with the problem in a permanent way.)
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