I don’t want a male nurse taking care of me

Siri Stafford | Photodisc | Thinkstock

This is always a hot debate out there in the circle of the nursing field (career). Do male nurses get ‘refused’ a lot from patients? Meaning, do patients refuse to be cared for by a male nurse, simply because we are men?

For some strange reason this topic seems to blur together with some of the other ‘male nurse myths’ out there. The two that come to mind are the ‘doctor = male & nurse = female’ myth and the ‘men don’t have the compassion to be a nurse’ myth.

I’m not even gonna try and talk about those two myths, they are so far ‘out there’ that they aren’t worth addressing.

I do however love to shed a little bit of light on the ‘refusal’ topic.

Here are some facts. Yes, I have been refused by patients on a handful of occasions. Yes, I have been refused by patients because I was of the male gender. Did I get offended, upset or angry? Only the very first time.

The very first time I was ‘refused’ I had only been an RN for less than 6 months. I think I had been off orientation in the ICU maybe a month or two (can’t quite remember). It was a NOC shift. I honestly cannot remember why this patient was even admitted to the ICU, what I do know is that her medical illness is not the reason why I was refused.

It was her comfort level.

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25 Responses to I don’t want a male nurse taking care of me

  1. Lou Burris

    I never really understand this view. I may have skills and experiences beyond some of my peers and still am treated this way. I think I have proven many times to be able to provide the best care available, and this still happens after 30 plus years. Sad.

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @Lou sorry to hear it still happens, thanks for sharing and best of luck.

  3. Robert McLaughlin

    Not even once in my 32 years as a RN have I been refused r/t gender.

  4. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @Robert Glad to hear! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Monica

    I work in a long term care facility where there are several male CNAs (no male nurses). We have a few female residents who refuse to let males do cares for them. All the ladies are polite about it; it’s mostly just that generation. They prefer women because that is what they grew up with. It got each of the men when they were first told this, but it doesn’t even phase them anymore.

    • Gortega14

      In my experience it has been younger female patients that have asked if they could have a female nurse instead.

  6. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @Monica I would agree, that is very common with the older generation – and quite honestly makes complete sense.

  7. Alan

    In my 23 years as a nurse I have been refused a couple of times by older ladies and from those with Islamic faiths. But I have also seen male patients refuse to have females care for them as many, or even more times.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @Alan, very good point. The tables very easily turn.

    • Gortega14

      I have also encountered the male patient that has refused care by a female nurse so it does happen!

  8. petejackson2010 Student

    How do you not understand the perspective from the patient’s point of view? For most people in a hospital or with hospice care, its a very difficult time for them. Its not like they are asking for another waiter in a restaurant. People should feel comfortable with those individuals who are going to be helping them in very “intimate” ways. The whole point of nursing is to provide patients with comfort and if it puts them at ease to simply have a nurse or a doctor of whatever gender they desire (assuming someone else is available) let them have it without taking it so personally. This is about the patient, not your ego.

    • Sue H

      Bingo! Each patient is different, you do not know the circumstances on why she may have rejected you. I will always refuse a male nurse because of my past hisory of sexual abuse. The last time I was at the hospital for an outpatient procedure, I experienced extreme anxiety that I might be assigned a male nurse. It doesn’t matter to me if the male nurse is kind, compassionate, skillful and whatever. They cause me FEAR. Nurses are there to help you get well, not cause emotional and psychological distress. If the patient refuses care from you, deal with it.

  9. Nurse Rene RN

    I once managed to get into a truly weird conversation with a male OB/GYN who stated that: ‘Women should not have female doctors. A woman should NOT be looking at another womans’ prlivate parts’. I swear.
    So, I asked him this: ‘Given that vein of Logic, it is reasonable that only FEMALES should be Urologists.who take care of MeN.’
    Never did get an answer for that one.

  10. thursday

    I have been refused, or have been kindly asked if a female can provide the intimate care. Not a problem. I am continually dismayed at my coworkers presupposition that my patient doesn’t want me involved BEFORE the patient has even met me! I continually witness female nurses NOT giving a second thought to the dignity of the male patient, but are QUICK to protect the female. I struggle with this daily, internally. I hesitate to verbalize this, even anonymously online, because every time I do, it gets taken out of context, and then it gets derailed. I don’t desire to be “in the females business.” The worst situation I had was when a female arrived in ER, I went to Triage and bring her back, and the very first words out of her mouth were, “great, I get a male nurse.” That HURT like crazy. How would a female nurse feel receiving that response? So let’s be willing to “walk in these shoes also.” I cannot help but state that there is much disparity and inconsistencies in this area, at least this is what I have witnessed.

    • Holly Robbins

      I think male nurses are great and that they do a great job. When I went to the hospital for the first time, because of hyperventilating, there was a male in the back of the ambulance with me as well as a male EMT that helped stabilize me. I wasn’t uncomfortable at all to have men taking care of me. When I got to the hospital, I had a male nurse take my blood pressure and a male nurse explain to me why I had trouble breathing. I for one love male nurses and wish there were more of them! There are too many misconceptions about male nurses– they deserve just as much respect as the female nurses. I dream of marrying a male nurse. How sexy is it to be married to someone who knows more about your body than you do? I can’t handle a lot of blood, but I’m sure a male nurse could. If I were married to a nurse, I think my pregnancy would go even better because if I wasn’t able to get to the hospital in time for delivery, he’d be able to do it. Male nurses are awesome!

      • ICareAlot1989

        @Holly Robbins, You still dreaming? Because I am a single male nurse that’s interested in women, so e-mail me (brff19@gmail.com).

  11. nothanks

    First of all, why in the world would a male want to be an ob/gyn? Oh, first of all maybe you get to handle females all day long? Men don’t have female parts, how do they know what a female is feeling? All they know is what they learned by books. Just sayin. Think about it. Same goes for male nurses.

    • Ben Pillow

      You assume too much. I don’t know if I should be pissed at the sexist assumption or feel bad for you. I started my career as a Labor Nurse. I didn’t go into the field so I could handle girl parts. The seed was first planted when my wife had a horrible experience giving birth to our daughter. THen it was my OB instructor and my wife who suggested I look at the field. In two years, I had 4 patients ask for a female nurse. It was me who avoided any incident when reconizing by name the potential and sending the nurse I was getting report from to the room to ask if they were ok with me as their nurse. All four occasions it was a cultural/religious reason. I totally respect that! One assignment, I had a muslim mother on the rare night I worked post partum. Although she said it was ok, I could sense the unease and asked if she preferred if I had one of my female co-workers do the assessment and check her bleeding and fundus. She said yes. Later that evening, the father pulled me aside and thanked me for the respect I had shown to his wife and their beliefs. He also told me how grateful he was that I was his wifes nurse and his son’s nurse and how felt no embarrassment asking me any questions as a first time dad, something he felt embarrassed to do during the day shift.

      EACH and EVERY mother I had as a patient, I treated like they were my wife or daughter and strived to provide them with the care I would expect my wife to receive (and wish she had when she was in labor). I wasn’t the only male RN on the unit. The other had been doing it for 20+ years. We had the highest patient satisfaction scores on the unit. It was we who were removing linen still soiled from the delivery, left behind by the previous nurse. It was we who made sure our LDRP beds had comfort pads after delivery for patient comfort. It was we who held the moms hand while dad refused and sat in the corner playing on his phone. It was we who NEVER used our four natural child births to to justify delaying an epidural (because we weren’t dumb.) Using your same argument, what if your female nurse was a LBGT? It shouldn’t matter. If you’re not comfortable, that’s fine. I’m ok with it, I’m only comfortable about the assignment when my patient is. But don’t make sexist assumptions about the motives of a male nurse in the OB field. Maybe we’re there because we love the miracle of birth. The joys of life born, helping nervous first time parents learn to take care of their child. Maybe we enjoy being in a unit where the high’s far outnumber the lows. And when those lows do come, we will do everything we can to keep you comfortable and to find peace. It’s not because we are males, it’s because we are Nurses, and we enjoy what we do, for all the right reason’s.

    • BramRN

      The first part is of your remark is an argument of ignorance. Because you cannot think of a reason, does not mean someone else cannot think of a reason. As for the second part: do you really doctors and nurses only learn from books? Also, do you implicitly claim that a woman knows what another woman is feeling?

    • ICareAlot1989

      Under that concept patients with cancer being treated by a doctor who doesn’t have cancer should not treat them because they don’t have cancer either, so how could they possibly know how the patient really feels. I guess the content of those text books are pretty accurate after all.

  12. Concerned

    This attitude is brought on by the male techs and nurses. I teach First Aid, CPR/AED for Law Enforcement, Corrections and Medical Staff including Doctors. I always stress patient comfort and privacy over caregiver ego. In emergency situations privacy might have to take a back seat, but many times the patient is subjected to unnecessary humiliation. My own wife was recently taken to the hospital with chest pains. The nurse caring for her was great. She explained to my wife what she was doing, closed the blinds and door, asked if it was ok for me to be in the room and was able to conduct the ecg/ekg without exposing my wife even to me sitting next to her. The nurse said she would be moving my wife is just a minute and stepped out of the room. Some guy (tech) came rushing in, grabbed her bed, moved her to the trauma room (only place currently available). He raised her shirt up to her neck exposing her full chest to me, another patient, that patients visitor and a guy from housekeeping that was standing in the doorway watching. This guy never introduced himself or explained what he was doing. My wife was totally humiliated. My wife’s nurse came running in looking for her and asked what happened? Then my wife’s new nurse comes in and introduces himself and seemed very nice. He told my wife her blood pressure was good 188/96. Already being humiliated, my wife looked at me and said “The nurse said my blood pressure is good so take me home.” From this point forward my wife said she will demand “No male techs or nurses”

  13. Muffy3

    I do not want any men (MD’s, RN’s, CRNA’s, ST’s, RT’s, or anyone else)taking care of me if it involves something covered by a bikini! Get it?!

  14. Muffy3

    If I deliberately choose a female MD, why would I want a male nurse?

  15. ZaraLunden

    I am a 65 year old woman.

    I don’t like strange males touching me. A male Dr is different as I see him all the time, though I much prefer a female doctor. It’s different if it’s a Dentist or Dental surgeon or a specialist surgeon.

    I don’t like strange men touching me physically. I don’t like the male nurse attitude. They are rude and arrogant. The ones I’ve been forced to have around me have been this way.

    When I don’t understand a medical term then “snort” and make fun of me, making me feel very uncomfortable. Hard to explain the horrible feeling.

    I think male nurses should only be allow to be around men.

    I hate strange men touching me and it should be my right to not have to experience this.

  16. ThePars

    Where available, we almost always allow choice. But what if they stated they preferred care by a white nurse?