Thanks for the replies. Bleucloud -- I'm not talking about "getting out" of anything. I'm talking about being more sensative to gender. There seems to be an attitude within healthcare that gender doesn't matter when it comes to patient intimate care. The research doesn't back that up. Gender does matter, quite often to the patient, sometimes to the caregiver. It's a topic that needs to be upfront and open, a topic that caregivers need to discuss with their patients. That communication alone may help many patients feel more comfortable about opposite gender care and turn mere silent, embarrassed compliance into positive cooperation.
I'm also curious as a scholar about these "socially acceptable" activities; that is, why is it more socially acceptable for female nurses to do intimate care on males and not vice a versa? And who gets to define what's socially acceptable and what isn't -- the hospital culture, the nurse, the doctor, or, the patient?
The fact is that there's not much research out there about patient attitudes toward modesty, especially research dealing with men. And it is a fact that hospitals just don't ask patients, as a general rule, about their values about modesty and opposite gender care. They don't ask for many reasons. In some cases they're just busy; sometimes they don't think it's an issue. But I have more confidence in the intelligence of hospital personnel. They know this is an issue, and most of them deal with it every day in very professional ways. But often they don't ask because they don't want an answer because they know what the answer will be and they can't accommodate, especially with men.
You're right, with more male nurses entering the profession things may change. But, as you know, the studies show that a significant number of males don't last in nursing, and many if not most of the ones that do move up into admin or teaching.
I've always wondered why nursing hasn't been "desegrated" offically. Why are there not quotas and incentives for men to enter nursing? Why isn't there affirmative action? Nursing as a femenine occupation is a 19th century Victorian construct. The idea that gender doesn't matter with intimate care seems to have embedded itself in our culture beginning in the 1960's as the women's movement progressed and more women became doctors and entered other professions. Attitudes are starting to change as we realize how important gender differences are in intimate situations like the one's we're talking about.
But like teaching, nursing has in recent history been a female occupation and thus the salaries have not been real competative, and the respect hasn't been there. There are many parallels between nursing and teaching. Those were the two major respectable occupations available to women, and if that's all that was really open to them, a significant number of early women's right's leaders were adament that those would be strictly female professions. No men. Did you know that from about WW1 to the Korean War the nurses unions fought to keep men out?
Sorry to get off topic. I find these fascinating topics from a historical/psychological/sociological point of view.
And lest you read too much into my text, I think nursing is one of the most essential, important professions on earth and have great respect for the men and women who do this job. As with any professions,though, I think there needs to be a better balance between men and women in nursing. What happens with narrown minded "boy's clubs" can also happen to narrow minded "girl's clubs."
Cary James Barrett, RN, BSN
Your distinction between the socially acceptable and the professionally acceptable is interesting. I'm not sure what you mean, but here's how I read it.
The social sphere involveds what may or may not be acceptable to individual patients in a culture of society. This sphere recognizes that there may be differences in how people respond to intimate care. This sphere also recognizes individual atonomy in this area.
The professional sphere refers specifically to a profession, i.e. the medical profession. The patient really has no say in this sphere. If the profession says it's acceptable for opposite genders to do intimate care, then it's okay, regardless of how the patient feels. I must say that this attitude is too common within our healthcare culture. And when you enter a hospital, you do enter a unique culture, an institutuional culture that looks inward toward what's best for itself, inward to what will preserve it's existance, inward to it's own feelings.
Secondly, it isn't a question of whether this activity has any sexual connotations for the nurse. Who knows? We can't get into people's heads. I hope we can assume the professionalism of medical people and that, even if they do occasionally have these feelings, they can control them. But to make an out right statement that there are never any sexual feelings involved is to completely erase the sexual nature of who we are as human beings. That doesn't make sense. We have a sexual nature and we don't drop that -- nurse or patient -- when we enter a hospital.
Thirdly, too many medical people look inward at how they feel and not outward enough about how the patient feels. Just because you do this kind of work all the time and it's routine for you, doesn't make it routine for the patient. Just because you've gained controled over your feelings with expereince, that doesn't mean the patient, who may have had little hospital experiences, has control over his or her feelings. Just because gender doesn't matter to you, that doesn't mean it doesn't matter to the patient. Really, this isn't about you. It's about the patient and the patients feelings, comfort and emotional health.
I'm sure you're a wonderful nurse and most patietns of both genders are comfortable around you. But your notion of what's "professional acceptable" doesn't sit well with me, unless I'm reading your thoughts wrong. If I am, please correct me.
Honestly, it does not matter to me what does & what does not "sit well" with you. I would like to use these various public nursing forums as a source of BOTH social & professional enjoyment.
I don't have to spend an extrenous amount of time with granting you some grand explanation. However, I will briefly reiterate here... to clarify my good name, and not to satisfy or pacify you. Again, these public forums are not meant to be personal.
IMHO, a patient has the RIGHT to refuse any type of health care. Therefore, if not a life saving event ... a patient can request [or demand if that sits with you better] to have the same gender nurse perform the bed bath. Yet, IMHO it should be professionally acceptable [WITH PATIENT'S CONSENT] for a male nurse to give a bed bath to a female patient just as it should be professionally acceptable for a female nurse to give a bed bath to a male patient.
Again, I NEVER EVEN SUGGESTED GENDER DID NOT MATTER TO ME in the arena of health care regards to privacy issues. Plus, I NEVER SUGGESTED THIS IS ABOUT ME. I've always been a firm believer that the patient should be empowered to make the primary decisions in their heath care issues.
Last, I HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO INFORM YOU THAT I NEVER HAVE SEXUAL FEELINGS TOWARDS MY PATIENTS. For you to post otherwise is completely w/o merit.
Obviously, your reply has angered me greatly. I find it best to end my reply here.
Cary James Barrett, RN, BSN
Hello, all. In case you haven't done the research, nursing WAS done by males, esp. during the Middle Ages. Only in the past 100 years or so, has it been a 'female' job. I seem to remember the stigma attached to nursing, too. Remember Sary Gamp? If not, look it up.
I often get the comment of 'Is it my wife talking, or the nurse?' from my husband, and my comeback is 'You can't split the two anymore.'
Patients DO need baths, I agree. I often have patients wash as much as they can, and then I 'do the rest'. IF there is a problem, it gets charted, and it gets 'bumped up the food chain', careplanned, etc.
Also, please look at the date of the original Post....2005. Original poster has not been back, either. Mind you, this is a good thread, but let's not get too nuts. I have seldom locked a thread, and I don't wanna start right now.
I don't want to get into an argument with you. I'm sure you're a great nurse. I'm not implying anything about you personally. But I stand by what I said about our human sexual natures. We don't leave them at the hospital door. It's naive to think we do.
Also, do you realize that what appears to be your real name is listed at the end of your posts on this blog? That's why I used your name. It's not as though it is hidden. It's right there after your post. If you don't want it there, remove it.
And I agree with you comletely, that it should be professionally acceptable if the patient consents to any kind of opposite gender care. But, frankly, I don't know why we're using the world "should." It's my understanding that it pretty much is (with very few exceptions) the case in American healthcare. I'm just concerned with not just "consent," but true "informed consent." Just because someone complies with intimate care doesn't always mean there has been actualy informed consent and agreement. Patients are sometimes vulnerable, naked, frightened and feel powerless. They will sometimes just let anything be done to them whether they agree or not. I'm not convinced that good communication always happens. That's what I'm saying.
But, getting back to the original question on this thread about whether a male nurse should bathe a famale patient. I agree with you. It should be professionally acceptable if the patient consents, really consents. And vice a versa with female nurses bathing male patients.
This is a sensative topic. There needs to be more communication about this between doctors/nurses and patients. It shouldn't be hidden in blogs like this. It should be on the websites of the major hospitals, and on the websites of clinics. Patients shouldn't have to wait until they get into the hospital bed before these subjects are discussed and confronted.
Blogs are not alwasy the best way for people to communicate. It's difficult sometimes to get across subtle ideas without facial expressions, vocal tone and body language. If I offended you, I do apologize. It wasn't my intent. I have great respect for the work you and other nurses do. But let's communicate; let's talk about these issues.
Work is work- it's my career, my job, call it what you want, but there's nothing sexual about it. If someone cannot leave their sexual nature at the door, then I would suggest they find a different field to work in.
I go to work to save lives, not to check out guys.
Amanda, RN, BSN
Resident Trauma Queen