I have been a nurse for 40 years. I have worked all over, but I worked Peds for 10 years and NICU for 17 years. They were my love. I have been discriminated against, and it started in nursing school with my instructors. I was perceived as a threat back then because I was a man and seen a threat to a female controlled profession. I had a very bad time. I was failed twice in clinicals despite getting B's in theory. One of my instructors was an old Army nurse and the other was her office mate. I found out secretly, from instructors that were of a more modern perception, that they said that males never will belong in nursing. Nursing school was a nightmare and I was badly scarred by it for many years. Luckily, I went to school back then, with a large number of field RN's who were administrative types and had been nursing for years. They saw the blatant discrimination and were always there to encourage me and tell ne it was not like that in the real world. That and counselling helped me get through. I never fought it because as I was told, "You may win the war but loose the battle". I stuck it out and graduated.
I started out in Med/Surg because I wanted to cement the skills I had learned about. I had so much to learn and priority setting was the most important. What I learned in Med/Surg was the foundation for all the rest of my nursing life. I was in a major teaching hospital and was one day floated to the Maternity area. When I had gotten there and reported, I was told I could not work there because I was a man. That was 1973. I said I was an RN and had full training like all the other nurses. She called the Maternity Supervisor who was a very nice black woman. Who said that the current hospital rules did not allow men to work in OB. She apologized but said she wanted to talk to me about it sometime. I went back to my unit. That nurse and I had 3 discussions over the next 2 months about discrimination that goes on. After our talks, she brought a proposal to the nursing administration meeting that outlawed discrimination and would allow any licensed person to perform the job they had been trained for. After kicking it around for several months, the CNO took this proposal to the Board. After 6 months, it was approved and a wrong was corrected.
The next time I got floated to OB, although you could tell the nurses were hesitant, they cooporated with me and I had a great day and spoiled every patient I had. The next week that little supervisor came up to me in Med/Surg and took me aside. She told me , not only were the patients happy with me but her nurses were amazed that a man could handle OB so competently. She told me the nurses would love to have me back anytime. All I needed was a chance to prove myself.
Since that time, many minor situations have come up but all have been resolved with little problem. I would always ask, back then, if my female patient was uncomfortable being taken care of by a male. Most did not care. The ones that did, I traded assignments with my fellow nurses so that the patient was happy. In Peds, I always had the possibility of accusations in the back of my mind, but in 10 years, not one situation arose that ever called into account my professionalism. There are always situations you will encounter with patients and their feelings and needs. Discrimination is inherant in all of us no matter how much we deny it. Patients are not in the hospital to have their personalities changed. It is a matter of analyzing the situation you encounter and making small changes that can alleviate the conflict. I have always chosen my conflicts very carefully but have pursued them with logic and passion. I have never regretted my choice to be a nurse.