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.

First I want to thank everyone for their posts on this topic. I am a male student nurse who is currently in the Parent-Child Nursing rotation and I am LOVING IT. There have been a few times where I felt disheartened hearing that "males aren't really in L+D." There was a part of me that was saddened because I thought this was not a realistic specialty for me.

I come from a viewpoint that assignments should be based on skills, competency, safety, and patient preference. I am sorry that the nurse manager acted the way she did; and I am glad you addressed it.

As for the others who have posted that they have men working in L+D and that there are male midwives...THANK YOU!!!!!!! Perhaps I will rethink my future career goals.

Specializes in Surgical.

I agree that the charge nurse was wrong in changing your assignment. The patient had accepted you as her caregiver already and if she felt uncomfortable, I would hope she would say so or she could be given the option to have another nurse. :specs: BUT, I work with 4 male nurses and when it comes time to give a bath or insert a foley------ they run to a female nurse and say"I don't think she would feel comfortable with me doing that". They never even tried or approached the pt to find out her feelings. Same goes for male pct's-- always shoving it off to the female pct with the same story. If you can attend a laboring patient then you can give a bath or insert a foley!!!!!:angryfire

Specializes in L&D.
First off, I had built a rapport with the patient the previous day...

Is it inappropriate to feel wronged that some one would insult my professional integrity...

I made an attempt to inform this charge nurse that this was unacceptable. .. I ended up taking this issue up with the RN manager. Who ... completely agrees that this is unacceptable behavior.

I am a L&D RN x 28 years. I work with male nursing students frequently. One of the very best L&D RNs I ever worked with was male. Our unit just hired on a male PostPartum nurse because of his caring ways and critical thinking skills.

Your charge nurse was absolutely inappropriate and unprofessional.:angryfire

You, however, did exactly what you should have done by utilizing the chain of command to your manager.:yeah:

Hopefully, the manager can appropriately counsel the charge nurse how to adjust her very outdated, biased opinions and decision-making attitudes.

i just posted this the other day on a different thread but it works here too.

as a nursing student, i never really gave much thought as to what area i wanted to work in. i worked in a nursing home for two years and then worked in the float pool as a cna in our local hospital. because i was a nursing student (bsn), i was 'allowed' to float to l&d despite the fact that males never floated to l&d and i was a male. after two shifts working with postpartum patients, i was hooked. the lights came on and i knew what i wanted to do for the rest of my life. i was present when my son was born and it left a lasting impression. i was an older (40 when i started) student and i think that made me somewhat more acceptable, but some nurses still were unsure. within two months, i applied for and accepted a position in l&d. i have a good work ethic and my patients seem to really like me. not in a sick way but i have heard that i have a soothing deep voice. i received numerous letters mentioning my good care and never received a bad one. in four years, i had three patients that didn't want males but never anyone that didn't want me specifically. the nurses decided i was ok after seeing me work. within months, i was asked to cross train to surgical tech for caesareans and tubal ligations. i happily accepted. the doctors liked my attention to detail and general demeanor. some of the nurses responded with, "well, of course they like you, your another guy" i also trained for and started teaching the car seat portion of the prenatal classes. i did all i could to make myself invaluable even though i was a cna/tech. during my evaluations, i received 'role model' the highest possible assessment. then, the manager that hired me left and a new manager was installed. she was a former college and i didn't think there would be a problem. but, i have just graduated and passed my nclex. i applied for an open position and two former techs and one of my classmates (that has never worked in l&d) were hired (all women). then i asked my manager, she said that she had too many new grads and she couldn't hire another one. i had been asking about positions for about a year and told, "it depends on what is available." one of the senior nurses that i work with came to me and told me that she over heard my manager and one of the other supervisors talking about, "how nice it will be to have all women again." once i passed the nclex i could no longer work as a cna/tech. when confronted (professionally) with this information she didn't deny that the conversation took place only that the unnamed nurse should not have come to me with the information.

during school, i naively thought that the maternity instructor (my advisor) would be pleased with my interest. when i told her that i was interested in l&d, during an 'advising' session, she asked if i was interested in the ed (emergency department) i told her that i had been floated in to the ed but that i really liked l&d. she continued with, "did i like the icu? lots of men like the icu." again i indicated that i had floated to the icu but was really passionate about l&d. exasperated, she asked, "how about the nicu, i know they have men in the nicu." confused, i said that i really didn't have any other department that i loved as much as l&d/mncu (mother newborn care unit) she lost her temper and slammed my file shut and told me that, "no one in (my city) is ever going to hire a man in l&d, so i might as well get that out of my head!" so ended my advising session. i was hired about 90 days later. i filed a complaint and she was not allowed to teach my clinical for maternity but she was the coordinator and the only lecturer for the class. it was exasperating for both of us, but after three years in l&d i passed the class with a 'c'. it was frustrating, my first 'c'. (4.0 as a junior 1st sem) i just accepted it, happy to have passed the class. she called me 10 days before the beginning of the next semester and told me she, "had a crisis of conscience" and just couldn't allow me to continue. she had gone into my file and changed the grade to a 'd' which is a failure. a grievance takes 20 days for the response. i lost a semester. i continued with the grievance but i lost my friends, study groups, and placement. the grievance was answered with, "the coordinator can do whatever she wished." i went to the human rights board for the state. suddenly the school was appalled by what she had done. a new maternity coordinator was hired and my nemesis was reduced to a two credit class in the senior year. the terms of my "settlement" were sealed. they didn't want anyone to know but i was happy given the damage to my education was already done.

i really love what i do. fathers are an integral part of the birthing process, or at least we hope they are. and for those present, they need someone on the floor to ask questions. many are uncomfortable asking a female nurse and looking stupid. i always assess the comfort of my patients and if i feel they need a female nurse i switch, or would, it hasn't happened yet. some ask how i can do that 36 hour a week, go home, and have interest in your girlfriend. it seems like a silly question to me. if you see your kids naked do you have a hard time seeing you sig other in a different way? does a female nurse get turned on my inserting a catheter into a male patient? do women truly believe that male nurses only think about sex when we see them exposed? bad news ladies, if you want to turn a guy on, labor is the wrong time. there is nothing sensual about nursing, or shouldn't be. we are there to care for patients. our gender is irrelevant unless it is upsetting to our patient. our job is to care for our patients if that means finding another nurse then that is our job. it has no reflection on us. it is up to the patient not some ignorant charge nurse! women have lady partss and men have memberes. it is just a part of anatomy. excellent patient care is what should be important. i did find it interesting to care for my surgeon. just before surgery she quipped, "you got to see my belly now i get to see yours."

discrimination starts in school and so far continues. some of these responses are very heartwarming. in time, the old ignorant nurses will retire or die. do i sound frustrated???

Welcome to the world of discrimination. Most if not all of us have been discriminated against for some reason. I have been an RN for 25 + years, I was a Public Safety Officer before that. Look around you, and be honest, you see things happening everyday that shouldn't, are you going to put that much of your time in to this, maybe you should have been a lawyer. You are experienced and valuable part of your team, your supervisor handled the situation wrong. Everyone should remember that not everyone got up on the same side of the bed as yourself and put your shoes on. What was going on before your supervisor saw you, you have no idea, pat yourself on the back for being dedicated and move on.

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

It is amazing if we were black, gay, or women the sky would be falling, but discrimination against straight, white, men is acceptable. Nothing against gay men but I keep hearing nurses tell me, "I worked with a guy in (name your city)," but continue, "He was gay." God help me I just like babies and new families.

Thank God for older nurses, I promise I am not going away just because some young male nurse can't take the heat. I earned my degree, my experience and my love of nursing isn't going to be put out to pasture by the few ignorant nurses who haven 't been around long enough to tell us where to go.

Does "old ignorant nurses" sound at all discriminatory? Sometimes when trying to make a valid point leaving personal feelings out help your own credibility

This IS so wrong!

There ARE still more male MDs delivering babies and they certainly don't get the boot! That charge nurse was exercising her personal view and not professionalism.

Best of luck to you.

to baydenoc,

don't misunderstand my comment. experienced nurses are core to nursing. the key word here is "ignorant." as far as heat, i've taken more heat than most only because i was male. i disagree with any discrimination! if you agree that men 'have no right in maternity' feel free to retire any time. if you are not one of those 'old ignorant nurses' then i wasn't referring to you and i am sorry if you ere mistakenly offended. as far as 'young male nurse' i am only about 15 years behind you. i didn't mean to offend you unless you agree with the charge nurse from the post, if you do then, yes, i was talking about you.

To the original poster: Do you have any idea how much stuff like this ****** me off? If you are a male in nursing, I don't care what field you are in....I just want you taking care of me if you have good critical thinking skills and are good in a crisis. I have had SO MANY female nurses who just brushed me off when I had serious issues that turned lifethreatening more than once, saying I was "emotional" and never even did a basic physical assessment, at one time over a period of 3 days when I had a surgical abdomen.

So, I say, If you have a passion for an area of nursing and you are a guy, I welcome you. Please take care of me if I am sick. I don't care of you are straight, gay, asexual, bisexual.. have sex with frozen fruit..whatever. I had a wonderful nurse in the ICU once who happened to be male..he took fabulous care of me while I was vented and in very serious condition, but awake enough to know what was going on. He gave me bedbaths, took care of my linens, etc., and never once did I feel uncomfortable. If women have male OB/GYNs, than what is the big deal about men as nurses? Is it the husbands who object? That may be the case in rare occasions (likely in certain racial situations) but honestly, there are more males who happen to be nurses who I would trust with my life and the lives of my family members than women. Sorry, but it's true.

So, go men!!! We need you, and don't take "you can't work in that's just not done..." for an excuse. If you have a passion for something, follow it. You will change lives that way. And besides, a floor full of only women is a floor full of trouble (I say this as a women, knowing full well the repercussions coming my way...) but it's true. We need you men to dilute our estrogen, our cattiness, our backstabbing, irrational moments, needless competitiveness, and all the other things that come along with being a woman (generalization--not all women are like this--some of us are actually pretty normal and cool-headed to work with). Not that men are perfect (dick-measuring contests, etc) but in a field predominated by women, I think you all add a measure of logic, reality, and sanity to an otherwise over-emotional world.

Love you men....please stay in nursing, despite our bitchiness. I, for one, as a student about to graduate, will try to watch the ***** factor and the stereotyping, and just let you do your thing. I admire you for your choice, the crap you put up with by stupid people who don't know better who question your career choice, and will always have your back, as long as you are on top of your game, or at least working to get there!

Please, please stay, and recruit your smart friends!!

Love and admiration always!!:bow:

Specializes in DD, PD/Agency Peds, School Sites.

Well, um, aren't there male doctors who deliver the babies???

You've got my support.

Some women are just ridiculous.

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