Appropriate way to Check off Bed Baths (Fundamentals)

  1. Hello Nursing friends

    I have a question - my classmates and I went into our practice lab tonight and our professor told us that in order to practice bed baths, we had to be in bathing suits, bring our own towels, soap, etc etc. We all were completely thrown off guard because number 1- she never told us although she swore she did 2- I find it almost unethical to be bathing a classmate. Many of us are very uncomfortable with this and luckily we have two instructors so many of us will check off the skill with her in clinical.

    What do you think of this? I know many skills are practiced on a classmate - I am a respiratory therapist so I know we practiced skills on one another when appropriate. I find this really not appropriate. My question is, is this normal? Is this something that we should speak up about or just accept?

    Thanks for the input..
  2. Poll: Is it wrong to have classmates check of bed baths on each other in bathing suits?

    • Yes

      61.54% 16
    • No

      38.46% 10
    26 Votes
  3. Visit AmesRT6510 profile page

    About AmesRT6510

    Joined: Feb '11; Posts: 98; Likes: 11
    Registered Respiratory Therapist; from US
    Specialty: 6 year(s) of experience


  4. by   mseblake
    Ive taken the CNA course and Im in my 3rd semester of my BSN and Ive NEVER heard a teacher tell the students to "pretend bathe", with bathing suits, each other. Thats crazy, well at least in my opinion
  5. by   AmesRT6510
    Thats what I thought! It completely crosses the line.
  6. by   CP2013
    I've heard of it done in bathing suits or shorts and tank top. There are few old school programs that do this because they want the student to remember privacy because they remember how vulnerable they felt during their bath.
  7. by   nursel56
    This is an issue I feel very strongly about, and I'm from an epoch when this was very common. You'll hear a variety of reasons why this is a good thing. The good things have little to do with the mechanics of giving a bed bath, such as promoting bonding w/classmates and gaining empathy as a result of "feeling what it's like to be the patient".

    Some people will tell those with a history of abuse or skin conditions or scars to "get over themselves" or that they can opt out. Opting out is not a solution because people will then wonder why, an unfair position to put someone in for no real gain. Anyway you can probably relate to some of the students posting about this in the past with opinions running in the hundreds both pro and con.

    Nursing school: Bizarre practice in learning to bed bath..

    Bathing Classmates and Other Personal Boundaries?
  8. by   AmesRT6510
    thanks for posting those links - helpful!
  9. by   satherp5
    I think it might be a little weird if I had to be completely naked and the whole class could see me. If its just a few others and I have on a swimsuit then I can't imagine how that could be uncomfortable?!? If you went on vacation to Hawaii would you not lay on the beach in front of everyone there in a swimsuit?
  10. by   AmesRT6510
    Well, laying on a beach in front of friends is one thing..being touched and bathed by a classmate is a different story.
  11. by   jescalynn
    This seems odd to me too, we just pretended on the dummies.
  12. by   mom_coach_nurse
    We knew going in that we'd have to bathe each other. We are also giving each other injections (saline) & lifting each other & our doctors had to sign off on all of that during our physical before school started. Thankfully we need to wear shorts & a tank top, I'd definitely not be comfortable in a bathing suit.
  13. by   nursel56
    Some people aren't bothered by it, but if it's presented as a requirement affecting your grade it becomes coercive. There are a few comments from students joking about bathing the "hot" classmates in the links I posted. I don't find that funny at all. It does point out one aspect of the awkwardness both the hot and the not-hot students may face, though.

    In the olden days it was assumed that nursing students were all female and under 25 years old. There was still a stigma attached to discussing abusive relationships then so very few did, but instead endured the process knowing the alternative would be failure. That should never happen in the guise of practicing your nursing skills. Heck, we didn't have Sim Patients other than Annie and she had a limited repertoire.
  14. by   Esme12
    I think this is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!! What point are they trying to make.....I know feel what the patient is feeling. Whatever. I don't think this teaches only satisfies and feeds the power trip of the instructor who enjoys those who do her bidding.

    Unbelievable....there are so many skill to be teaching...but lets humiliate and degrade the students into submission. Can you tell this drives me NUTS!!!!!!!! about more time spent on pharmacology and about assessment lung sounds and heart tones.

    Bathing suits and bring your own soap....YUCK!!!!!!!!! Grrrrrrrrr.

    In days gone by....we spent our first semester at a SNF/LTC and we went in before pre-conference to start the baths on floor so that by about 10 AM we would be done with all the baths give report to the nurses on any thing new and unusual and a basic assessment (we were told it was the thank you to the nurses for allowing us to be there and be in their way) then we would focus on our patients. One whole semester....we got really good at baths, making an occupied bed and assessing while doing other tasks.

    I may have gone to school with the dinosaurs....(yes I went to a college for school and it was an ADN program...a good ADN program.) and we may not have had all the fancy sim labs....but we sure gained a ton of common sense.

    Wow that just drives me NUTS!!!!
    Last edit by Esme12 on Feb 26, '13
  15. by   nurseprnRN
    If I see anything in the posts of many new nurses, it's how much they see their patients as a workload, a bother, a burden, the families a pain in the neck, abusive, argumentative... I rarely see a post that projects any kind of empathy. NO, not all posts. But many.

    I think this kind of lab is an excellent way to teach empathy, not just for how you yourself feel being bathed and touched by a comparative stranger, but how you can also imagine your friend behind the next curtain in lab and how s/he is feeling about it. And more than that, it broadens your horizons in a way that many younger (and some older) people cannot begin to imagine.

    I used to do a lab that was ostensibly about positioning, but was really about this issue. The students paired off, one got into the bed (fully clothed) and was positioned to one side with pillows. The "patient" was not allowed to talk or move, as if paralyzed. After the "patients" were all positioned, the curtains were pulled closed around the beds, and there was a seven minute wait period when all the "nurses" gathered in the middle of the lab, where they inevitably got chatting. Then everyone came out and we had a little talk.

    What should happen after this kind of lab is a discussion period where everyone talks about this...and if the discussion doesn't spontaneously roll around to how much patients feel like objects, not people, then the instructor should gently guide it there. In my classes, the "nurses" felt good about their skill in positioning, felt like they were really doing real nursing, and couldn't wait until the next skills lab.

    The "patients" all felt like meat, were panicky, were alone, wondered if their "caregivers" thought about what it was like to be in that bed while they all chatted about the game on Saturday or what was for lunch in the caf. It was an eyeopener for all concerned. Just about everybody (including each "patient") was stunned at the depth of feeling felt by the "patient" side...and how they all completely missed it.

    And that's why I think the special snowflakes should realize that this lab is about far more than bed baths, about being aware of another's embarrassment at being dependent, or about having societal roles between strangers violated in a care situation. Your body is not so special, no more so than anyone else's is to him/her; it really isn't. A sense of proportion and empathy here, and lose the entitlement. Being a nurse does not put you on a higher plane than the patient (see the first paragraph); they are not your workload, they are people no different at all from yourselves.

    THAT's what this lab is all about. Sometimes it takes a bigger jolt than you think to make people see it, is all.