male nurses refusing to do certain treatments?

Nurses General Nursing


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nursemike, ASN, RN

1 Article; 2,362 Posts

Specializes in Rodeo Nursing (Neuro).
I'm surprised that some folks think the nurse's (man or woman) culture doesn't count for anything.

We all have beliefs and cultural mores concerning what we think appropriate. For some cultures or individuals, those may be very strong factors. I can easily imagine, for instance, a Muslim or Orthodox Jewish male nurse preferring to pass vaginal care to a female nurse if possible. The same for females of those religious cultures. I'm sure there are other examples.

Now, speaking from my own religious and personal perspective, I won't delay emergent care of any sort for any patient. But if I can easily get a female nurse to do a non-urgent Foley on a female patient, I think that is better all the way around. There are, of course, other such examples. That has to do with my beliefs about appropriate exposure and respect between genders. Those beliefs require that I respect my patient, my self, and the values themselves. Upholding those values requires more than cheap talk and passing recognition; it requires an attempt to act on those values. Fortunately, it usually means respecting people MORE, not less. Again, that has to include no compromise on proper patient care. But that is part of the same network of values.

I find it disturbing and a double standard to say that we have to be sensitive, respectful, and 'culturally competent' with regards to our patients; but not with regards to our colleagues and our selves.

My initial inclination was to disagree with this post, even though I think it raises some valid points. I concur with some of the other posts that say we have an obligation to put the needs of our patient ahead of our own issues. But, upon further reflection, the poster recognizes that obligation ("no compromise on proper patient care,") and with that in mind, I have to agree that our own needs should not be discounted altogether. Even with my initial misgivings, Medic09 sounds like someone I would be happy to work with. The students in the OP, on the other hand, sound immature, and will need to do a great deal of growing up to ever become effective nurses.

In my own practice, I always respect a patient's right to refuse care from a male nurse. It rarely happens, and when it has, the patient has usually been happy for me to continue as their nurse of record, so long as a female can assist them with the more intimate aspects of their care. Toileting and pericare can generally be delegated to a female aide, and there is pretty much always a female nurse available for interventions that require a nurse, such as a Foley or a dressing change. Rarely, I may have to ask a female nurse to perform parts of an assessment.

There have been a few (very few) times I've enlisted the aid of a female coworker r/t my own discomfort, rather than an overt objection by the patient. I find I am more self-conscious about personal care on a young, female patient than on those my age and older. Sometimes I feel the patient may be uncomfortable before she says so, but if I'm honest, I'd feel funny starting a Foley on a 20 yr old, and downright perverted on a 15 yr old. But I can, and have, overcome similar reservations when it was necessary, and actually doing whatever needed done didn't feel nearly as creepy as the anticipation of it. Indeed, I had (and still have) to overcome a certain amount of my own awkwardness to care for more mature patients, many of whom who have had male caregivers in the past and are fine with it.

Conversely, I have occassionally provided personal care to male patients assigned to a female nurse, either because the patient was embarrassed or because he had behaved inappropriately. I would have little sympathy for a coworker who simply felt penises were icky. Fortunately, my coworkers are more mature than that.


839 Posts

Specializes in ER,ICU,L+D,OR.

Sorry, there are certain things I would not want a male nurse or tech to do on me. I dont even want a male doctor in certain procedures and problems. By choice I always seek out a female doctor.


534 Posts

Specializes in private duty/home health, med/surg.

I agree that the patient's preference in gender of care provider should be respected. But if a student is expressing issues with certain gender related treatments because he/she views them as "gross," that is a different issue.

As a nurse, I have to put aside *my* issues because I have chosen to take a job with tasks that are uncomfortable or unpleasant for me at times. For instance, I hate suctioning trachs. Sputum of any kind grosses me out. I'd much rather be knee-deep in a code brown any day. But if my trach'd patient is having a hard time clearing secretions, I am going to suction them. End of story.

Specializes in Emergency.

Buddha? Who cares what some over-hyped clown in a toga thinks about anything? I can spew "Peace, harmony, find your innerself" garbage too.

:eek:As a Buddhist this statement is more than a little offensive, but we are all entitled to our opinions regardless of how small-minded they may be, so I will leave it at that. On to the topic at hand, since I'm not really certain how theology came into a discussion on Foleys.

My boyfriend is an RN as well, and has never refuse to treat a female patient. Neither do any of the male nurse I work with on a day-to-day basis. A patient is a patient and if they need help you do it. End of story.

So since its ok for male nurses to bow out of caring for women, we (women) can bow out of any kind of peri care/cath/ect for men too right?

I'd love to see how well THAT goes over.

I can just see my nurse managers face when I tell her I will no longer be doing any peri care on my patients who are male. It would be classic I'm sure.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

I think that as long as there is another nurse available who is the same sex as the patient and is willing to help out, then fine, let someone else do it. But if all female nurses refused to do intimate care for male patients there would not be much done, as

mpccrn, BSN, RN

527 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

why is a male nurse caring for a female patient an issue??? female nurses care for male patients without blinking an eye. :smokin:

Specializes in LTC.

I work with one male aide in particular who has to trade out many of his female residents. He also tends to state they asked for a female if they are very high care and then trade for someone with low care. Recently he said that a lady who was on her call light ALOT wanted a female aide. Another aide and I went and asked her to confirm this was true. She said that she only asked to go to the bathroom and he said he'd go get a woman. She said she thought HE was the one with the problem. I have no issues taking care of a resident (trading out) because the resident feel uncomfortable. But because he feels uncomfortable taking care of someone due to their high care. NO way! Also if I trade it's on MY terms. I'm fair in who I chose but why should I take care of someone who is on there call light every 2 seconds for someone who never calls and only needs help getting undressed and who transfers unassisted. Also sorry but I'm not trading for someone who your GIRLFRIEND feels you uncomfortable with you taking care of. That actually happened. His girlfriend works at the same place and stated that she didn't want him to take care of a younger resident. It's also give and take. If I take your female resident and then ask you for help and you complain about helping me the whole time it makes me less inclined to want to trade you, when it helps me NONE to trade you residents. Also I once asked this particular aide to trade me because a male didn't like female caregivers and he threw a fit!

I've also worked with male aides that were awesome! They would trade fairly and it was wonderful!

I remember one time when I worked with a male aide that didn't feel comfortable cleaning vaginas. I told him that he needed to get over it or go find another job. Part of our jobs as healthcare workers is to get over our own comfort and do what needs to be done. I also told him the only way to get comfortable is to do what makes you uncomfortable because pretty soon it would be the norm and wouldn't be a big deal.

Now I wouldn't mind trading out because of religous beliefs or what have you. But not becuase they just don't feel comfortable.

Specializes in LTC, Med/Surg, Peds, ICU, Tele.
why is a male nurse caring for a female patient an issue??? female nurses care for male patients without blinking an eye. :smokin:

Because women are more emotionally and physically vulnerable by nature. A woman's sexual nature is strongly linked to her emotions. Many women have been sexually or physcially abused in their lives. The overwhelming majority of sexual predators are men. Women, by nature, more closely have to guard their sexuality because of innate vulnerablities that have existed since before time, therefore it is biologically wired into women to feel what we feel.


932 Posts

Because women are more emotionally and physically vulnerable by nature. A woman's sexual nature is strongly linked to her emotions. Many women have been sexually or physcially abused in their lives. The overwhelming majority of sexual predators are men. Women, by nature, more closely have to guard their sexuality because of innate vulnerablities that have existed since before time, therefore it is biologically wired into women to feel what we feel.

I think the issue is not about if female residents/patients take issue, but if male nurses have the right to avoid intimate care nursing tasks because they are uncomfortable with caring for women, when female nurses, in reality, really don't have much of an option to bow out of caring for male patients.

Medic09, BSN, RN, EMT-P

1 Article; 441 Posts

Specializes in ED, Flight.

So, we've seen several reasons here that a nurse (male OR female) might want to switch out patient care, if possible.

1. They think something is icky.

2. They have a personal perspective about modesty and personal respect that says they should avoid getting really personal with the opposite sex, to the extent possible. In this case they aren't necessarily morally compelled, but this is how they feel about it.

3. jlsRN seems to think it would apply only to male nurses with female patients, because woman are a more vulnerable population.

4. Some nurses may hold religious beliefs that obligate them to preserve modesty between sexes. In this case, it isn't simply a matter of personal choice; they are morally compelled by the religious beliefs and practices that they are bound by. This doesn't seem to come to the fore much in America, and I think many of us have a hard time grasping this, and respecting this. There are religions and cultures to whom this can be very important. And it will vary among cultures. Just because the Buddha said something (if indeed he did, and I mean no disrespect here at all) doesn't mean that I see that as relevant to me as a traditional Jew or Muslim or Navajo or whatever. I am bound at home and on the street by the dictates of my culture. In America there is no clearly dominant explicit moral culture (though there is a general moral sense in the society), and so it is hard for some of us to understand why a colleague's religious obligations would have any role at work. In addition, some of us only understand the role of such considerations in 'big' issues like abortion or discontinuing life support, but don't understand that there may be a role for cultural and religious considerations in all of our interactions. What's more, many of us don't really understand the notion of a religious obligation, as opposed to an important preference. When a Muslim colleague or patient says they can't have pork, that isn't just an important religious preference. To them that is an absolute obligation that has real consequences for their spiritual well-being, as they believe it. Many of us don't get that sort of imperative approach. There's nothing malicious about it, it just isn't part of the majority mindset.

5. Some may be paranoid (and even paranoids can have enemies!) about the litigious nature of the times we live in. Sad, but not crazy by any means. :icon_roll

Since this is a genuine ethical matter, there are other potentially conflicting values that come into play. It was suggested here that by taking an RN license we enter into a societal contract. If that is true, it is a very important consideration. What is the nature of that contract, and to whom does it apply. Nurse-patient? Nurse-colleague? What are the obligations and rights implicit in that contract? There is an issue of fairness and not causing undue burden to patients or colleagues. What are the limits of that? It was also mentioned here (implied by me as well) that we choose to be healthcare professionals. If we think we can't manage the demands of the profession for whatever good reason, maybe we have no business entering the field to begin with. And there are other considerations, to be sure.

As you all can see, I think this is a worthy and weighty topic. My apologies! :icon_roll I was surprised to find in nursing school not just cultural ignorance and naivite; but something far more important. Most of my classmates had little or no experience in making serious, considered, articulate ethical considerations. Moral dilemnas rarely came up among students, and the program taught it very little other than briefly assigning some reading and some very short discussion of the issues. What's more, I think some of our instructors weren't much more sophisticated in these matters.

I think given that we choose a profession that gives us profound impact on other lives, and given that all human beings are moral beings by definition or default (no one lives a lifetime without ethical dilemnas and moral choices), we should learn to approach these considerations more clearly and intelligently than we often do.

Okay, off my soapbox for now...:twocents:

(he wanders off muttering to himself...)


467 Posts

every patient is different. just as a patient has the right to refuse, so does the nurse. some alert and oriented female patient's don't want a man touching their vagina. in the same way, some male nurses aren't comfortable touching vaginas or breasts at work for legal protection.


23 Posts

Specializes in Inpatient Rehabilitation.

A nurse is a nurse, plain and simple. If you are scared for your license, have a female nurse or CNA there as a witness. We as nurses are here for the patients and if you are too "grossed out" to do certian things for patients, male or female, you should re-think nursing as a profession.

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