male nurses refusing to do certain treatments?

Nurses General Nursing


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20 Posts

I am a male student. The other night, a nurse asked me to help her with her elderly hysterectomy patient. The patient asked "Who invited him?" The nurse replied "He's a student and needs to learn too." The patient replied "Ok, but he may have to marry me." I am already married, or I guess I would have had to buy a ring. LOL. Seriously, so far I have had no problem with female patients. I always ask first, and if they prefer, I step out. Most have no problem with me caring for them.


17 Posts

Specializes in icu.

Patient care first, when you care for them you look at them as a sick individual not their gender. You do what need to be done to care for the pt. If the pt is young and awake, you can always ask if she is ok with it. If Iam a 18 year old girl who is awake, I would not like a young male nurse to insert foley?

It is common sense. Nursing has a lot of grey ares, you use your judgement to do what is best for your patients.


323 Posts

Specializes in Wilderness Medicine, ICU, Adult Ed..

every professional must have the right to refuse to perform a procedure that he or she considers morally wrong or harmful to the patient. however, refusing because you find the procedure distasteful? nonsense! i am a male nurse, and i do not think that my gender grants me the privilege of picking and choosing what i do for my patients. do women in nursing have the right to refuse to take care of men? i don't think so. so why should i get a pass just because i am a man? i think that the student nurse described in the first post is just wrong, and i wish that his instructor had tried to work with him on this, instead of reinforcing his erroneous thinking.

however, i agree with all who have pointed out that, while i do not have a right to withhold care or dump my work onto a coworker just because i don’t feel like doing something, the patient always has a right to decline my care for any reason at all. and it is not always women who are uncomfortable with a male nurse. some men have stereotypical notions about men in nursing. that is silly, in my opinion, but my opinion does not matter. the patient has a right to control who touches them, regardless of their reasons. i respect that and, if asked, make arrangements to transfer them to another nurse without question, and without saying anything to make that patient feel uncomfortable with her (or his) choice. it is not my job to give anyone a hard time about what he or she thinks or believes. my job is to arrange for them to get the best nursing care possible, and to do it on their terms, to the extent possible. and, by the way, as other guys have written, i have only encountered this a very few times in my carrier.


12 Posts

Specializes in ER, CCU, Vascular Access.

If a patient wants a female then I try to comply. What is frustrating is when they complin that something is not done timely because I had to go get a female and she may have had other things to do before she can help me. Then the male doctor comes in and there is no problem.

We should be sensitive of wishes of patients and also protect ourselves from potentially being accused falsely.

Heres a hypothetical: What if a male patient refused a male nurse or a female patient refused a female nurse?


113 Posts

Specializes in Quality Management.

Male students should be required to attend to female patient pericare, catheterization, vaginal suppositories, etc.

Is the OP's classmate going to similarly refuse to insert rectal suppositories in men? I can't see a significant difference between that and his squeamishness about the female "naughty bits."

There are times when nursing involves grim, unpleasant work (however you may define that). There are things that need to be done, and we are the ones who have to do them. BECAUSE IT IS NECESSARY. Period.

That is precisely why I applied to nursing school. I feel compelled to do what is necessary, simply because I am able. If that silly boy can't do it, I'm sure he'll get weeded out of the program one way or the other. If not, he's going to be miserable and will probably jump ship at his earliest opportunity. Hey, there's always a job in the Advice Nurse call center.

PS: Happy Holidays! :saint:


932 Posts

I'm really surprised that its an option. I can just see my teacher's response if our male student said he wasnt going to take a female assignment.

He'd get a "U" for clinical that day, and the next clinical day when he was still assigned that patient he'd get another "U" and then he wouldn't have to worry about going to clinicals anymore.


681 Posts

My husband recently completed a CNA course through the local college. His RN CNA instructor informed him that he would never take care of female pts because he was male. She even went as far as to excuse him from the classroom when performing a demonstration of pericare on a female mannequin. He didnt make a big deal about it because he was afraid that he would look inappropriate. It takes all types to perpetuate the stereotype and it isnt always the men. ~Ivanna

What an absurd position for a school to take. Just in case this instructor hasn't caught on, most of us males have in fact seen something of the female genitalia by the time we're old enough to get to nursing school. And, sooner or later in the practice of nursing, there will come a time when there's no one else qualified at hand to do some task. Doesn't it make sense to have a trained nurse?

Does it make sense to protect oneself by having a female in the room during peri procedures? Of course. Is it good practice to make sure the Pt is comfortable with a male doing it? Certainly.


15 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Critical Care, Med Surg, Dialysis.

I agree with everyone about the student should get weeded out(and as the old saying goes....Nurses eat their shall he end up with such a fate)

As a male nursing student(exParamedic 8yrs)...I have found much more resistance from male pt's than at least a 15:1 ratio as far as daily/routine/hygienic type care.....just last night I had a male pt that was refusing to allow me to give his Lantus becuase he did not know me...yet he allowed a female student to do it and he then hit on I really think that is even worse(cause she had to put up with that behaviour) and that because I am male he was going to refuse his routine SQ injection:banghead:


242 Posts

this is an interesting and necessary conversation. there are some questions, i think, that haven't been covered, although the answers may be implied.

n does anyone know anything about the transcultural nursing center at hawaii pacific university? apparently, they have courses in this subject. is this standard in nursing schools (and medical schools)?

n john20 writes: "the first sign that the patient is uncomfortable with you (many won't say it out loud) is when you have to ask if they would prefer you to get a female coworker to do this"

it seems that male nurses are much more likely to notice these signals and/or ask females their preferences. i could be wrong. if it's true, is it because it's easier to get a female nurse to take over, whereas it's not as easy for a female to get a male nurse to take over?

n quickbeam writes: "in my many years in nursing, there often just wasn't a nurse of another gender handy to do things that were awkward. you can't always plan on being able to rely upon that."

what does a female nurse do if a male patient requests a male nurse and there isn't one available, and there won't be one in enough time to take care of what has to or should be done? what if you can't convince the man? how do you handle it? same questions for a male nurse dealing with a female patient - although the odds are this wouldn't happen."

n nursemike writes: "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."

do female nurse, especially young ones, feel the same about dealing with 20 or 15 year old boys/men?

n firestarter writes: "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."

much of what you say is true, but i do think there are many stereotypes about men and how they feel that permeate this culture. you are correct about sexual abuse of women, but new studies show that many more men than previously thought have been sexually abused. see "sexual abuse of males: prevelance, possible lasting effects & resources" by jim hopper (

n wrd62279spn writes: "...tell me how often either male or female pt will request a female nurse 4 pericare? my impression is men are just as likely to refuse as women..."

are men less likely to ask than women? is it part of the male psyche, the macho attitude, that it's unmanly to complain or show embarrassment? the fact that they don't ask, does that mean everything's okay with them and the procedure?

n czyja seems to confirm the above when he writes: "some men prefer men to handle caths. one of my pts the other day was complaining that his foley was driving him nuts. after a few question and some thought we figured out that he usually "dressed right" as an english tailor would say, yet the statlock was on his left leg. no wonder the thing was driving him nuts. i changed the statlock to his right leg and voila, problem solved. he noted that the appreciated having a guy for nurse to handle this."

note that the man articulated his appreciation to the male nurse. would he have even asked for this preference, especially of a female nurse? it seems he felt more comfortable even expressing this preference appreciation to a male.

n mpccrn writes: "why is a male nurse caring for a female patient an issue??? female nurses care for male patients without blinking an eye." iam46yearsold responds: "it is the way life has always been."

first of all, it's not how life has always been. females, of course, have always been caregivers, historically. but so have men. males were much more prevalent in nursing until the middle 19th century when it became a woman's profession. secondly, i think some females do blink an eye, but are professional enough to do the job, even if it bothers them and, perhaps, the patient.

n st.jude607 wrote: "i am a male student. the other night, a nurse asked me to help her with her elderly hysterectomy patient. the patient asked "who invited him?" the nurse replied "he's a student and needs to learn too."

aren't you supposed to ask a patient's permission for a student to be present or work on him or her?

n dabuchan writes: "if a patient appears uncomfortable with you because you need to carry out a doctor's order ie: foley insertion, vag supp.or ointments...and you see signs of this from their demeanor or the patient mentions this either to you or another co-worker, then it's inappropriate for us male or female nurses to not try and find an alternative such as a female or male coworker who your patient would feel more comfortable with.

this seems to be the majority point of view. i would just highlight the words if you "see signs of this from their demeanor...)

silmas RN

42 Posts

Specializes in PICU, NICU, SICU, CCU, ER, RN Paralegal.

That is ridiculous. I was never given the option not to catheterize a male patient. I thought the patient's needs came before the "needs" of the nurse.

chevyv, BSN, RN

1,679 Posts

Specializes in Acute Mental Health.
My husband recently completed a CNA course through the local college. His RN CNA instructor informed him that he would never take care of female pts because he was male. She even went as far as to excuse him from the classroom when performing a demonstration of pericare on a female mannequin. He didnt make a big deal about it because he was afraid that he would look inappropriate. It takes all types to perpetuate the stereotype and it isnt always the men. ~Ivanna

So if your husband works in LTC, will he be able to properly care and clean a female resident? That local college really needs a wake up call! Write, call, go in person, just please do something so they can realize that this instructor is just plain nutty!

As a former hospital patient, I can honestly admit that it would get so busy that I wouldn't see anyone for hours. I could care less if my nurse was male or female. There were 2 great cna's that cared for me and one was male and the other was female. When your down, many people don't mind who cares for them. I find it very alarming when a teacher refuses to teach on the basis of whether the student is male or female. That has to go against something somewhere. Eventually, your husband will be up to his elbows in peri care :chuckle


111 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Office, Psych.
I'm just a student but an issue came up in class that really had me :confused: We were discussing med administration and vaginal suppositories. One of the male students in class asked if he would "have" to do that for a pt., or if he could delegate to another nurse. The part that most surprised me was that my nursing instructor told him it was fine, she had male nurses she worked with who refused to insert foley's on females and other procedures involving the peri area of women.

This just seems so unprofessional to me. A pt. is a pt. and if they need care, it's our job to provide it. I understand that we're in a crazy litigious society and she mentioned one male nurse who brought a female aide in when doing foley's and things (I understand that a lot more). But honestly, the tone from this male student and one other in class was more like "that's so gross, I can't handle it" rather than "I'm scared for my license".

Is this common? I've had male OB/GYNs care for me personally and didn't think twice. I guess it just made me uncomfortable the sexual implication that they seemed to be projecting onto a medical procedure. Am I just out of touch?

:banghead: Banging an old drum maybe?Maybe some feel that they are "above" that?

I havent ever come in contact w/a male nurse that wouldnt perform nursing duties on a female patient, i have had male nurses as for a female nurse to be present out of legalities i believe.

I wouldnt hire a male that would refuse to care for the female patients in that manner, the nurses i work with have a great respect for their degree & don't care male or female...

I do have a PA that wont do an EKG on a female patient without a Female Nurse present... which i completely understand...again Legalities..

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