Published May 6, 2002
I just graduated from an LPN program. I really liked my L&D rotation so I put in an application. The Director is great and she offered me a job working as an LPN in OBGYN/PP and too cross train me as an OB tech. She even offered to pay for an IV certification class and work around my schedule when I start the RN program next fall. OB technicians act like scrub nurses during C-sections, prep patients for sections, start catheters, admit patents and help during deliveries.
I am male and the staff is all women. Today was my first day to "follow" an OB tech and start to learn that part of the job. The tech was great she treated me wonderfully and didn't have a problem with me being male.
Everything was going great my preceptor showed me where things were and I watched as she assisted with a C-section. She is a really good teacher and very nice.
I know that there are going to be some problems as a male working on L&D and especially being that I am the first (that I know of) in this hospital. My first problem popped up today, An RN asked us to strait cath a patient. The patient had been acting a little nervous from the time she was admitted but voiced no concern about me being present. My preceptor asked the patient if she would like for me to step out and of course the patient said yes. I understand that my preceptor was trying to make the patient as comfortable as possible and I'm sure she wasn't being malicious. My thinking is that if I were in the patient's position, I would be uncomfortable with anyone regardless of sex being in the room during such a revealing procedure, if they didn't have to be. Asking if I should leave implies I don't need to be there so if it had been me I would have said no too.
To make things worse a C-section patient came in with her boyfriend so my preceptor and I went to admit and prep her for surgery. As soon as we walked in the boyfriend said "I don't want any F***ing students in here." My preceptor assured him that I wasn't a student that I was a nurse (I'm actually still waiting for my permit so this wasn't entirely true). We continued to ask admission questions and take vitals. When it came time to start prepping the patient my preceptor asked the boyfriend if it was all right if I stayed. The boyfriend once again said he didn't want students in the room. My preceptor tried to explain to him that I wasn't a student but I could tell he wasn't buying it so I volunteered to leave. In this situation I can absolutely see why she asked if I could stay, The boyfriend acted like a person who wasn't afraid to cause trouble and voiced a concern about students but I wonder if I should have done something differently.
I left the room and went to the nurse's station and someone asked if I had been kicked out. The Lead Clinical Nurse overheard and said "See I was afraid this would happen, this is the second time today" she was of course talking about patients not wanting males in the room. I explained to her that the boyfriend thought I was a student but she didn't say anything.
Okay so now that you have read my long-winded story, here are my questions and concerns:
I think things will get better when I'm on my own and not an "extra" person in the room. But what if they don't?
Should patients be asked if its okay for me to stay if they appear uncomfortable?
Should they be asked if it's okay for me to stay if they don't appear uncomfortable with me there?
I am concerned about my patient's comfort and privacy but if this keeps up I won't be able to learn my job much less do it. How do I balance that?
I'm sure I will run into patients that request a female nurse. How should I deal with?
How much is too much? If I have too many of these situations should I just look for another job?
I really want to work on L&D I like the atmosphere and think I can make a difference there.
Id also like to hear any other suggestions or opinions you have in general (both good and bad) about male nurses in L&D/ women's services.
maire, ASN, RN
The thing I don't understand is this: there are male obstetricians, why not male L&D nurses? If a patient doesn't mind a male doctor, I don't understand what difference it makes if the nurse is a guy as well. If a patient is uncomfortable with a male nurse and up front says so, that's their prerogative, and I think their wishes should be accomodated. But everyone should go into it assuming a male nurse isn't going to bother anyone; don't point out the difference (i.e. "Do you want HIM to leave?") like it's a situation that isn't normal or accepted.
Just my .02
I work ICU and have never had a kid so I don't know how women usually feel but for crying out loud, many go to male OB/GYN's!!! They are seeing a lot more than you are.
I have never asked my patients (the one's that are with it anyway) if a preceptee can stay or do a procedure. I go in and introduce myself and the orientee and say: we will be your nurses for the next 12 hours. If I sense an orientee is having a problem with a procedure I am right there to take over. If it is a patient with one vein left (literally) I get the most experienced and competent nurse with IV's on the unit to do it. I think your preceptor might be setting up some problems by asking but again, I don't work OB, never have, and I don't know if that is the norm in that kind of unit.
Good luck with your orientation and with the RN program.
Dayray, you're a groundbreaker, which is absolutely great (and about time, too!). If you run into resistance because you are a male in OB, be aware that there will be the 89-year-old lady who requests a female nurse, too! And yes, I've had male patients request a male nurse instead of me when dealing with "intimate anatomical areas". I wouldn't volunteer to leave (or have your preceptor volunteer you to leave) unless the patient specifically asks that you do so. The patient may well appear uncomfortable because she IS "uncomfortable". Labor, after all, isn't a very comfortable experience, and neither is a gynecological exam performed by, or in front of, anybody! If you come across as caring and confident, I'm sure most patients and families will be very glad that you are there. :)
The remark you quoted by your lead clinical nurse(or whatever she is) sounds very telling to me-I get the feeling that some of the staff did not want you hired at all and you may be set up to fail.If L&D is your niche then you need to work this out.I feel that your preceptor was certainly wrong in asking the patients if they wanted you to step out-she only did it because you are male.If you present your self in a professional manner to your patients and have a warm caring manner about you I think you will over come much of the initial resistant from them.You will always run into a butt head now and again-bow out if they insist but I would never give them the opportunity to refuse you first.....A reasonable person(I know- a woman in labor is usually not reasonable-lol!) will sit back and check you out and then decide whether to make an issue out of it.If I were you I would let my preceptor know that you do not wish for her to ask you to leave during any procedure because you are no different from any other nurse....Try contacting Jami(can not remember his exact name)-he is an LPN on this board with L&D experience-he can give you some advice....
Stay with OB if that's what you want to do!!! I worked OB for a couple of years with both male RN's and techs. The guys did a great job caring for the ladies and the ladies actually seemed to respond better to the male staff members. It's a little untraditional, but like many of the other posters have mentioned, the OB doc is a man a majority of the time, so why not the nurse?? If you're professional in what you are doing, it really shouldn't mattter, and lets face it, in the third stage of labor, most women don't care who's around!!!!:)
I am not a nurse yet! I have had a child and there were so many people in the room I don't even know who they all were. I did not care who was there as long as they helped me in a caring and compassionate way. I think you have earned the right to work as a nurse anywhere you want. But I know there will be some who will say NO WAY! It's really hard to believe in one day you had to leave twice. Life is change and we humans don's like change but it is inevitable if you like it or not!
I commend you for what you are doing. You are surely breaking ground. I think your preceptor is giving you the short end of the stick. She should just go in and say we are your nurses, we will be treating you today. I think you might also need to consider if this is the woman's first delivery. If so, of course, she is going to be extremely nervous. Her "boyfriend" obviously not husband is obviously uncomfortable with another male viewing her. he can't see inserting a stray cath as a procedure. many people, unfortunately dont understand, that as a nurse, this is a job, a boby is a body etc. we don't view them as sexual beings. I know I encounter this frequently, because my male patients in their 40's or 50's are embarassed to have my stray cath them, or exam scrotal edema. etc. My male patients in their 70-80 could care less. This has been a real eye-opener to me. I worked in business for 13-14 years before I went to obtain my B.S. in Nursing. I worked for a defense contractor in basically an all male environment and I also have a B.S. in Business Administration. I look at this as a job. I am 39 a single parent and I always wanted to be a nurse. The problem I have is, I look younger and my patients don't want to allow me to perform my job. So stick with what you want to do. I think it is wonderful and I commend you on sticking with it. Write me and let me know how its goes. My email is listed.
I have worked with several male OB nurses. Every one of them was an exceptional OB nurse. They probably wouldn't last otherwise. I was head nurse on a busy L&D in IL, and had a night shift that I just couldn't get filled. Nursing Service called and told me they thought that they had a nurse (experienced even) for that slot. Come to find out, that nurse was a guy-the first one, not only on our OB deck, but in our hospital. I wasn't sure how my night shift would handle this, but I talked with them, and they agreed to give him a chance. It took him about two nights to become like a brother to each of them. He was married and had a daughter, but he was who all these single moms called to unplug the drain, or change the flat. He was also the one that they baked the goodies for, and made sure he got the nights he wanted off. It worked out well.
I worked with two other fellas in CO, different hospitals. One had been an OB nurse in the service -- really good. The other ended up as NM in a busy OB dept, then was recruited to go to NY to head up an even bigger/busier OB dept that needed a lot of reorganization. I really like these guys. They are handy too if a father gets roudy!
So, go for it! But unfortunately, you have to be better than every body else, or you get trouble. You can do it. Good luck
Just a little story to tell: I remember when I was giving birth my midwife and doctor asked me if I would allow students in the room. And I said yes. Boy! was I flooded lol! I guess I was the only that said yes that day...lol. Anyway I just remeber at one point I started to talk to them (between contractions) and I would aske them who was in nursing and who was in Med school. And one of the male students told me he was in nursing school, I consider myself a very open person but it did cross my mind that first he didn't go for Med school and on top of it he's in L&D. But after having those thoughts I said to myself that I shouldn't categorize as I had a male doctor as well. I felt a little guilty and immediately told myself to push those stupid thoughts away... I can see in his eyes that he really appreciated me giving him the chance to be there. After I had the baby he was the only student (out of nurses and doctors) that paid me a visit (a short one) but nevertheless it stuck to me in my mind as glue.
Don't worry you'll be a great nurse in L&D...
Oh, Yeah ! Your preceptor should not ask the patient if you should leave or not... She should introduce you as both nurses for the day or whatever... If a patient is really uncomfortable than you have no choice but to leave. But don't worryif you have 10 patients for the day and 2 kick you out (lol) I consider that very good...
NICU_Nurse, BSN, RN
I wonder if presenting yourself as more of an authority figure in this situation, rather than just a newbie, would help. I am thinking that if YOU are the first one in, and YOU, the guy, are the one to say, Hi, I'm Bill and this is so and so, and we'll be your nurses today, if that might make a difference. By having you walk in second, and HER introducing YOU, it can (I'm trying to put myself in pt's shoes here) possibly appear to someone as kind of strange, or uncomfortable...like, you're there to peep or whatever. Now you and I know you're not, but Sally Sue from the street might not understand. In a way, you're already at somewhat of a disadvantage, being new, because most people don't like or want 'new' people in charge of their health. If you look like you're confident and authoritative, it may leave them feeling more confident. If you can't do this (though I don't see what it wold hurt, really...) then I agree that the patient shouldn't be given an option. You are a nurse (almost), you are there to learn, and shutting you out of opportunities will get you nowhere. If the patient is uncomfortable, most of the time they will voice it and say, I don't want another guy in here, or whatever, and in that case you should respect their wishes. Most of them, though, probably would only make a deal out of it if you or your preceptor did. The best track here is probably the one in which you say the least. If she asks why you're there, tell her. Make a joke, break the ice, tell her she gets two for the price of one, and wink at her. Nine times out of ten you'll come out ahead. Good luck!!
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