male nurse sexism? L&D in the ICU

Nurses General Nursing


I have been working as an RN in critical care for two years, before this I was a Paramedic with 5 years experience delivering babies in the back of ambulances...

This information is just to get you up to speed on what happened to me...

I was returning to work a shift with patients which I had previous experience's with. One of these patients was a preganant ICU patient with pulm. and CV compromise.

Upon my arrival the PM charge nurse had decided that my assignments needed to be changed. The reason and I quote was " Male nurses have no right to be in a laboring womens room!" and out of consideration for her needs I would not have the same assignment.


First off, I had built a rapport with the patient the previous day. The patient had never requested to have female staff only. Since this was a preterm ICU patient, Labor and Delivery was present as well as the ICU RN who would facilitate managment of the critical care needs.

I am a professional. This is a career for me. It may be very true that women would PREFER a female in the room. However, why can the male OBGYN MD be present and this not cause a problem? yet a male nurse brings alarm...


PLEASE HERE ME OUT, male nurses have the same RN liceanse as any Female RN. I have had the same mother baby infant classes ,infact with my Paramedic experience I have personally delivered four children which should allow me more "points/props" towards working with this patient.

Let me be clear L&D is not my specialty nor do I want to be present during the invasive parts of a GYN exam. However, I am just as capable to perform care as any female nurse working in any specialty in the hospital. Can I relate to delivering a child, nope only if you consider a kidney stone similar to pregnancy, But i most certainly can sympathize and provided resonable accomadations for privacy and emotional support.

Is it inappropriate to feel wronged that some one would insult my professional integrity. Female Nurse's, would you not be hurt if told that you can't handle taking care of a prostate cancer patient because he was a man with an organ unfamiliar to your own body?

I made an attempt to inform this charge nurse that this was unacceptable. Ultimitely, I ended up taking this issue up with the RN manager. Who by the way is a male for 30+ years and completely agrees that this is unacceptable behavior.

How would you have handled this. Do you think Male nurses can't manage the ICU side of a laboring patient? Is there a diffrence in male doctors and male nurses, and if so why?

Thanks for your thoughts in advance and I look forward to hearing from you.

To be honest, I would rather have a male nurse than a female in L&D. Just my personal preference. Dont take it personal. Some people just dont know how to talk to others and just continue to take care of the patient. :yeah:

She was completely wrong. She let her personal feelings on the matter interfere with her professional position and handled it inappropriately. You could make a complaint if you so wish.

If the patient made the request that would be one thing but she didn't. Chances are she would be comfortable with you because you had worked with her before and there was an established relationship which can be a comfort to patients.

She'd drop dead if she came to our L&D. There are 2 male nurses and a 3rd was just hired. They are beloved.

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

I soooo wish we had RNs in our L/D or mother/baby unit who are men.

Specializes in Trauma ICU, Peds ICU.

Thanks for sharing your story. What happened was wrong, and kudos to you for sticking up for yourself. As you can see from the posts, many of our female peers welcome men into maternity nursing.

To those people, I'd like to say that I've never broken a bone, so I shouldn't have ortho patients. Seems kind of ridiculous when I put it like that.

I don't think you read it correctly. Some people see labor as a feminine experience and thus think only girls should be there -- nothing there about the women having to have given birth first.

There's nothing wrong with believing it is such an experience -- until you're a charge nurse and start pushing that view onto others like the OP's did.

Specializes in SRNA.

I was once assigned a post-partum ICU patient who had developed HELLP syndrome. I learned so much! Thankfully, I had a wonderful L&D/PP nurse who would come help me out with assessing lochia, making sure the fundus was wherever it was supposed to be, etc. I only had to deal with the critical-care aspects of the patient's care.

I don't think it should be up to the charge to determine appropriate assignments based on sex of the clinician. It should be patient preference.

Specializes in Operating Room.

OP, I would gladly have you in my room if I were that have experience, you care about your patients. That would be all that would matter to me.

Just because someone is female does not make them any more compassionate regarding L&D..actually I've met quite a few L&D nurses who were female that were judgemental and nasty.

In my department we do not use gender as a determination for assignment..we use competency with the procedure, and experience. Once in a rare while we get someone who for religious reasons maybe wants a female nurse and even then we are not always able to comply(especially on off shifts).

Specializes in Trauma ICU, Peds ICU.
I don't think you read it correctly. Some people see labor as a feminine experience and thus think only girls should be there -- nothing there about the women having to have given birth first.

No, I think simboka read it correctly. The broken bone metaphor just wasn't the best to illustrate his point, because you're right that it's not about women having to have given birth first. It's about men not being capable of giving birth, and that this supposedly means we can't create a therapeutic birthing environment because we don't "get it." Incidentally, that generalization is wrong.

I think he was trying to get at something more like, "I can't have cystic fibrosis, so I shouldn't care for people who do, because there's no way I could understand."

Regardless, it seems like most of us (or at least those who are posting) agree that what happened to the OP was wrong.

Specializes in Critical Care,Recovery, ED.

T o the OP

Have you considered having a talk with youor HR dept re: this discriminatory action? Also since your manager agreed with you was anything ever said to the charge RN who made this discriminatory decision?

Specializes in CCU, Critical Care Flexi Pool.

Follow up

I have filed a formal report with the Nurse Manager.

At this time I havent considered taking actions with HR but this is a possibility. Should I not recieve follow up from him regarding the incident and steps made to correct the action I may consider walking over to HR.

I some ways I fear HR... I'm comfortable with the manager. With Jobs the way they are currently I'd hate to see some reprecussions from reporting the incident to HR.

I hate to think if this had been about race how fast and quickly is would have progressed up the chain.... However, since its just a "male" not getting an assignment people seem to are less as much. To me discrimination is discrimination.... time will tell

thanks again for all the posts

I'm glad you followd up and this is a good first step. Hopefully your NM will make it clear that this is discrimination and not to happen again. If she does then you just have to wait and see if her directive is obeyed. If it isn't you tell the CN again so she can take action against this person and if she doesn't you can go to HR.

I'm sorry you experienced that. I think sometimes the more traditional people see the birth process as sexual simply because it involves the lady parts much the same as breastfeeding is seen as sexual because it involves the breast.

BTW, the best care I had in L&D was from a male nurse. I remember the charge nurse coming in and apologetically telling me they were short staffed and that someone on the unit would have to have a male nurse. I was fine with it. She then further explained where he'd be putting his hand as though it were something sexual. I thought SHE was odd; a male nurse didn't bother me any more than my male OB, but I was glad to not have to deal with her twisted view of labor.

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