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I'm a sexless nurse

Posted

I think I'm professional, but now I'm not so sure, after I told some American friends that as a male nurse, I don't catheterize women.

'That's sexist' was one of the kinder comments, while one of the more rational comments said - "We are professionals. As long as we behave in a professional way, then we should all have to do the same job."

I naturally asked 'does this mean we're nurses first, and men/women second?' and they didn't give a concise answer.

Am I the only male who thinks that it is harder for a female patient as well as for a male nurse to do such an intimate procedure?

Am I the only nurse who thinks that gender does matter? What harm does it cause if I choose not to do a procedure when there are capable people around who could do it just as well, plus make it easier for the patient. As a male nurse, I need a female chaperone if doing such a procedure on a woman anyway, so why not make it easier for everyone and simply keep the male out of it altogether?

But what does being a "Professional" mean? From what I'm hearing from others it sounds like I am a sexless machine capable of doing it all because that is what I am paid to do. Instead I think of myself as a caring carer. I have my faults and biases. I make mistakes and I sometimes let my feelings help make my decisions. But I have a big heart and I do the job because I care first. I enjoy making people laugh when they're sick. I enjoy being able to make a difference in people's lives. I also do the job recognizing my faults, and if I ever think that my views/faults may jeopardize a patient, I know to get someone else to take over that patient's care. I guess I'm not a very successful Sexless Professional. But I can live with being called sexist and unprofessional, just because I sometimes refuse to do female catheterization. I'm sure there's a lot worse things I could be.

A couple of extra points to mention:

For the record, the female staff used to ask me to catheterize the men, and they'd do the same for my female patients, and we never had a problem.

Also it's strange, but apparently I'm allowed to catheterize little old ladies, but not young women. Sounds a bit ageist to me. Do the feelings of older people not matter as much as those of young people? Naturally I'd never contemplate such a procedure on a young woman.

Curious about your thoughts on this.

Okami_CCRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 4 years experience.

I believe when we as professionals start delegating tasks out based on gender and the belief that it will make the patient uncomfortable then we ourselves continue this circle.

Do male OB/GYN's have their female partner perform the examination because it is a woman? Of course not so why should a male nurse do the same for a female patient or vice versa. Most of us have a second person there for help anyway so what is truly the problem? It may be your own bias or fear of performing such an intimate and often times frightening (for the patient) procedure.

I have never had a female patient refuse a catherization from me, I tell them matter of factly that they are retaining urine and list the consequences and inform them that the doctor and I believe a foley/straight catheter would alleviate the issue and BAM they say okay. I call over my Pod Mate (ICU speak) and we get the job done.

Also, I never ever ask the patient if it is okay if I perform the procedure, it instills doubt in their mind and may weaken the nurse-patient relationship.

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

I know there is a meta question in here but I am a practical person. Are you also asking me to do peri care, bed baths, wound care (I have packed a lot of vaginas), enemas, suppositories? Because that is a no go.

You decided to be a nurse and half the population is female and you thought you could get through your career not having to do personal care on them just because you are male? I believe that most females are not that intimidated if we are in a medical setting and a male has to do something medically needed such as cath care.

Shoot many women choose male gynocoligist and obs for goodness sakes. Sorry but I don't think that just because you are male should get you out of having to do personal care when needed on half the population.

After 23yrs I've come to the conclusion that there are some things it's easier for a man to do, and some for a woman to do, for the nurse as well as the patient. Gender does matter in nursing, and as a male who was accidentally placed in a gynaecology ward when he first graduated (because they thought my name was a women's name) I remember very clearly the difficulties, and don't any of the sometimes traumatic experiences I had against the staff or patients. It is what it is.

Have you done that on an 18yr old girl? if so, do you honestly believe she was ok with it? Perhaps she didn't say anything because she felt too scared to.

I'm worried about the almost militant sounding attitude, that you're a nurse, so do it all. Where has the care/compassion gone. There's certainly doesn't seem to be much empathy out there, as the majority of patients I know, prefer someone of the same gender to do certain intimate procedures.

As for any male nurse ok with catheterizing an 18yr old girl, who says 'she's fine with it' is simply being blind to their patient's needs.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

For the record, after childbirth, it was a male nurse that checked my episiotomy. Didn't bat an eye.

Woman have breasts.... who checks your female patient's heart and lung sounds?

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

I'm worried about the almost militant sounding attitude, that you're a nurse, so do it all. Where has the care/compassion gone. There's certainly doesn't seem to be much empathy out there, as the majority of patients I know, prefer someone of the same gender to do certain intimate procedures.

As for any male nurse ok with catheterizing a 18yr old girl, who says 'she was fine with it' is simply being blind to their patients fears.

The patients aren't the one with the fear.

So you'd be fine with a man doing that with your 18yr old daughter? Maybe you are fine with it, but is your daughter?

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

Yes, I am fine with a man "doing that" with me or my daughter. The man is performing a medical procedure, nothing more. YOU are the one sexualizing it.

Edited by Been there,done that

. I was 15 when I saw my first male gyno and I can't say I was traumatized over it. Not like i need therapy brcause of it. They just did what they had to and it helped that the nurse was there in the room as well. It is part of life and we can get over it.

As for my daughter if she is lying in a hospital needing to have cath care done truely if they are wonderful professional caring nurses I don't care if they are male or not.

Edited by mvm2

NurseFrustrated

Specializes in Med-surge, hospice, LTC, tele, rehab.

Hello. Female nurse here. I understand your concerns, but at work, yes you are a nurse first and a male/female second. That is part of being a professional. Believe me, I don't mind to help a fellow nurse out but sometimes I simply don't have time to stop what I'm doing with my own patients to go catheterize someone else's patient. Catheterizing females is not always easy and can be time consuming.

All nurses should be capable of doing their own procedures because someone may not always be available to do it for you. And saying you choose not to do a procedure that is part of your job does not sound very professional.

As long as you explain the procedure to the female patient beforehand and explain everything that you're doing during the cath, having a female nursing assistant in the room for a witness, it shouldn't be an issue. Sometimes females refuse to let males do this procedure. In that case, yes, you shouldn't proceed and should tell your charge nurse and have a female do it. But it shouldn't be a case of the male nurse refusing to do it because you are uncomfortable with it. And not all females are as modest as you may think. We are used to those yearly gyno visits.

Strange, but of the hundreds of girls I've referred to the gynaecologist (I work in schools now) they all, every single one of them, only agree to go if it's a female gynaecologist

Also - the male nurse needs a chaperone anyway, so why not let the woman do it.

Edited by nursingaround1

flyersfan88

Specializes in Trauma, Orthopedics.

The problem is that you seem to be assuming that all women would be uncomfortable with you performing personal care. I think it's more offensive to assume my/another woman's feelings before even explaining the procedure.

Yes, you are a nurse before you are a male at work. If I was expected to run and hide every time I had to touch a penis....well, I guess they would consider I couldn't fulfill the duties of my job. And my coworkers sure would be annoyed.

Edited by flyersfan88

flyersfan88

Specializes in Trauma, Orthopedics.

Strange, but of the hundreds of girls I've referred to the gynaecologist (I work in schools now) they all, every single one of them, only agree to go if it's a female gynaecologist

Also - the male nurse needs a chaperone anyway, so why not let the woman do it.

The mindset of a teenage girl surely is different than the majority of women you encounter on an adult acute care floor. If you actually spoke to the women you care for instead of assuming feelings, you'd have figured this out.

And because your female counterpart has enough to do with her own patients....why should she have to do a procedure you assumed your female pt doesn't want you to do?

If I have a choice I might choose to see a women gyn/ob. But if I am in a hospital setting I will take the drs and nurses that are on staff and the ones that I am given and just be greatful for the good care I hope I will receive by the men and women that choose Dr and nursing as their profession.

Also what about us women taking care of men and doing personal care on them . That does not seem to be a big deal. Why is it so not right for a male nurse doing personal care on a women.

kiszi, RN

Has 9 years experience.

Honestly! Young females - and males - are often uncomfortable with such intimate procedures regardless of the caregiver's sex. It is our job as nurses to act professionally and put our patients at ease regardless of our own personal feelings. I'm human--I personally feel a little uncomfortable when I have a patient close to my age that I have to catheterize or even put an NG in. Does my patient know I am uncomfortable? No. Do I ask an older nurse to do the procedure for me? Hardly.

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