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.

I had a male student that wanted to work in L&D when he graduated, but was told by administrative people that run the program that he would not be allowed to because he is male. When he told me this I could see the hurt and disappointment on his face. :madface: He asked me why? All I could say was it didn't make sense to me. As far as I'm concerned if you are willing and able to do the job go for it. As a "well-preserved" nurse with 32 yrs experience, nursing instructor, and former patient if you walked into my room as my nurse I wouldn't sound like the type of person that really cares about your patients and the patient in question did not request "female nurses only" so I have to agree 110% with the others that your charge nurse really screwed up this time.:yeah::bowingpur

:bugeyes:I agree with everything you say. If a male MD can care for a pt, why not a male nurse?????

Specializes in Urgent Care.

In any profession or industry, times and standards change. Some people come into the new thinking / procedures / standards willingly, some reluctantly, and others are dragged kicking and screaming into the new world. Eventually everyone comes, even if they don't agree. Because, like the tides, time marches on.

Racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination are fading, but we must all help to drag those last few people into current thinking, no matter how much they kick and scream. FORCE IT DOWN THEIR THROATS!

Go to HR, follow up, make sure that someone with authority has corrected this manager.

Specializes in EMS, ER, GI, PCU/Telemetry.

i'm sorry that happened to you.

it definately sounds descriminatory.

if the patient did not want a male nurse, she could have said so.

as for this pregnant momma, i'd welcome a male or female nurse into my delivery room. doesn't make a difference to me. my OB is is a male professional, and a male nurse is also a male profressional.


As the current Director of Maternal Child Health in an acute care hospital I can tell you I would hire a male new grad in a heartbeat if I thought he was committed to women, infants, and children. In addition to truly wanting to learn 4 specialities in one unit (that's the way it is here).

I have worked on the flip side when I was on a new critical care transport team and it was a RN/medic team. I was one of only 2 women in large EMS department. Initially the medics (all men) did not want to be assigned to the "skirt truck" It didn't take long until they were convinced that having a woman partner was not such a bad deal after all!

I haven't read all the replies, but have to say that I find it so odd when a laboring woman doesn't want a male student/male RN present, yet she has a male OB? I guess MD's are more asexual? Sorry that happened to you...ridiculous.

Alsmedic, I'm not a nurse I'm in pre nursing) but I did allow a male student nurse to assist when I delivered my first child. He was was very confident, very respectful and very competent. I still have a picture of him and my L&D nurse (who was awesome btw). I absolutely agree with your point of view, I don't understand why people treat male nurses different than a male OBGYN, the resident that I had (male) for the first 8 hours of my labor was absolutely clueless, I won't go into details but let's just say I don't know how he passed anatomy, he also had no idea how to talk to me. My husband and I kinda of felt sorry for him more than anything. I think if nurses have the :redbeathe to take care of someone, it shouldn't matter what their sex is, I was just glad that there was someone there to do that very hard job :yeah:.

I have been fighting this battle for years. Just last week one of the directors of nursing had a problem because a male was used to observe a post partum psych patient. When she made the comment I immediately took offense and told the entire room that we are not male and female RN's it just says registered nurse on my license. She said that males should not work on floors where pericare is taking place. I asked her if she has ever put a foley in a male patient. Of course she has. What is the difference. Hang in there. Michael

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

Glad you did the follow up. Funny how people can project their own predjudices and desires onto the entire patient population.

As far as delivering: I could have cared less whose trained hands were catching the kid down there long as she didn't hit the floor. All I wanted was to be done being pregnant!

Specializes in M/S, MICU, CVICU, SICU, ER, Trauma, NICU.

You were wronged. Take it up with the higher-ups. What a sexist and inappropriate comment to make. You have an HR issue; she needs a class to fix that perspective. Very wrong.

Specializes in variety of hospital areas, including OR.

I am a nurse, and have experienced the so called "Wrong side of the bed" numerous times, and for a variety of reasons...including a hysterectomy, which I had to be placed in ICU post surgical. Personally I would much rather have someone experienced with ICU interventions,...and all the many ways things can go wrong (and often do)...than to be concerned that they were a gyn "nurse"....When I was in ICU...I did have a male nurse, and yes very briefly I felt a little "shy" but ONLY during a couple of moments that I felt more embarrassed about..those moments were brief, and handled VERY professionally by my MALE nurse..compared to the hours of wonderful care..."FEW MOMENTS vs HOURS of wonderful care....hmmm what is the smart move? I would pick knowledge, experience, and Caring heart over TITLE any day! ...especially in ICU!! Hang in there, and continue basing your career choice on what you enjoy doing....a caring heart beats an old BATTLE AXE nurse (or young) any Take care, and God BLess

Specializes in CAMHS, acute psych,.
... I told this story to my wife who is also a nurse and she said the same as the posters.... but it's very reassuring that others have a similar belief...

For the record - I agree with the others about the way you handled it - but I'm curious about the gal who booted you. I wondered if she'd been in suspended animation for 35 years and They dragged her out because of the shortage of nurses. See, back in the late 1960s and 1970s feminism was starting to get up a real head of steam and a lot of the more radical women (and I'm not knocking them - we wouldn't move forward as a society without radicals) decided that men had too much power in every aspect of their lives - at least childbirth was exclusively female ... so the line of thought went... so the radical lesbian separatists fantasised happily about a male-free world and many went to live on men-free communes (some are still there, today); there was talk about research into parthenogenesis etc. Another common radical political theory held that as soon as a profession started to attract social power and prestige (as has nursing in recent years) the men jump on board - otherwise scorning "women's work".

I thought you might find this interesting to (maybe?) understand her better in conversation when you get round to healing the rift between you (caused by her). We don't know how others have suffered or where their weirdnesses or scars come from until we listen to them (if they'll talk to us ... hmmm, maybe on second thoughts, if she's anti-male she probably wouldn't chat with you... sigh). Cheer up - she'll retire soon.

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