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When a Patient Doesn’t Want You as Their Nurse

When a Patient Doesn’t Want You as Their Nurse

Terri Polick | NursingLink

In addition to gender bias, racial discrimination is a sad, but real obstacle in nursing. Regina B. and Frederica C. are African American nurses who’ve experience racism at work. They both know firsthand that racism is alive and well and that nurses of color must be prepared to deal with this reality. Regina doesn’t like being called names, but understands that some people are stuck in their ignorance. “I just try to remember that some people can’t do any better. They are just raised like that,” she said. “I don’t want any patient to feel uncomfortable, so I try to find another nurse to take my place. If I can’t, I take care of the patient the best way I know how, but I try to make them as comfortable as possible.”

Frederica tries talking to the patient, seizing the opportunity to try an educate the individual about diversity. “Sometimes, people have misconceptions about other groups of people that can change with just a little bit of education,” she said. Even though she knows you can’t change everyone, Frederica tries to stick it out and is encouraged when patients change their attitudes after getting to know her, “It feels good when you can break the barrier that keeps people from getting along.”

Don’t take anything a patient tells you personally. Just remember, you can’t please everyone, so just keep moving. Most patients are like the old gentleman in the picture: They love and appreciate you as their nurse.

The nurses in this story were referred to by their first name and last initial for reasons of confidentiality.

Next: 10 Words of Wisdom for New Nurses >>

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  • Photo_user_blank_big


    9 months ago


    Unfortunately for me I have had to been hospitalized due to complications in all three of my pregnancies and I've had a lot of stories to tell about nurses and hospitals. My view on nurses is some are terrific and deserve the respect and admiration to who they are as a person and go above and beyond the call of duty that is asked of them. And for nurses like that I applaud you and admire you and thank you for all the hard work and determination that you put forth into your job. But also like any good review their is a kickback of a negative comment and that is good nurses are like good teachers they are rare and hard to come by! Due to my small size I always have the same problem whenever I'm pregnant and that is my babies grow to large and kink off my uriter to my kidney causing me a great deal of pain and I always end up having to get a stent put in at 24 weeks gestation time. It's a painful experience and like all mothers I am more worried about my child than myself. I had my first son when I was 19 and was attending college when I first had my lovely episode of kidney pain. Because of my age this nurse automatically assumed that I was some kind of drug addict even threatening me with a drug test and I told her I between screams that she is welcome to run any and all drug tests on me because I knew something was wrong and also I don't use drugs I also told her to keep her **** hands off of me. Yes an immature thing to say but as I said I was young and in a great deal of pain and here comes in a nurse who's never met me or even looked at my chart and assumed I was a drug addict. If I wasn't in such a great deal of pain I would have used my wits and said I have all of my teeth and my face is clear and I have no track marks and I am more than willing to do any drug test you can throw at me because I have nothing to hide but what do I know I'm only going to college on a scholarship and I must be dumb and a drug addict because you've been a nurse for ten years and don't need to look at lab results or my medical file because now your a mind reader! Another time I was hospitalized after my second pregnancy right after my son was born and had a kidney infection because of some nurse that was hopped up on pain meds didn't know how to clean and insert a catheter during my labor and I had a male nurse come into my room and examine me without permission or a heads up. Now before I get blasted for being sexist just hear me out. My husband was in Iraq in a war and was not able to be with me. My son was in the hospital for jaundice and I had a 104 temp after giving birth and had a difficult delivery by forceps. I have been raped and molested by the time I was 10 to 14 years of age and with any rape survivor will tell you we are not ept to talk so openly and freely about those horrific experiences so no I don't casually write down or talk about those things during my patient intake information because in the past I had some arrogant b**** put down her pen in the intake room and ask me all of these absurd rude and insensitive questions about that which as you can believe I wasn't up for having an Oprah pow wow with some sorority girl who got through nursing school with regurgitating information to become a nurse. Anyway this male nurse came into my room ripped off my covers and tried to examine me which I shouted out no and to leave my room. He was so offended by my reaction he took a deep sigh and stormed out and for a moment I felt like our roles had reversed. That being said I think there needs to be a lot more training and critical thinking that goes into student nurses. It is not my fault nor any victims fault of molesatation that we would have to bear the brunt of other peoples lack of insight and no not all of us are willing to talk about our experiences due to re trama of that experience with any new doc or nurse we come across because there is always one who wants to talk it out with us or make us understand their view point and they want to help when really all the patient we want is to be respected and have a peaceful experience without us having to worry about offending some male nurse who wants to be in the delivery room or work with females in that area. And if you truly are a great nurse you will understand this on a deep level. I am fine with a male nurse doing anything except when it comes to that area and that should be respected. I just want any male nurse who is reading this to understand that it's at your patients comfort level and has nothing to do with your ability to get the job done because I'm sure a lot of you can! I feel that this subject should be talked about more often and the only reason why I am saying anything about is because I didn't have the courage to speak up or take action against my abusers to save other victims like myself but at least I can help bring ease and an awareness to the medical field that this is a huge area that is rarely discussed. Thank you to all of the wonderful nurses that truly
    Are super Hero's and those of you with a lack of insight and open-mindedness get out of our hospitals because you aren't helping anybody!

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  • Last_pic_max50


    about 4 years ago


    I have to say, I had a cancer patient one time, who was also a nurse anesthetist. I cared for him with renal cell cancer, and when it came time for me to have an outpatient surgery, (uterine ablation) I could only think of one person that I would trust with my anesthesia. I know he totally saw me (all of me) , but I valued who he was as a professional and as a friend. I was honored to put my life in his hands. As professionals we know each other like that. We never have a problem with male physicians. We shouldn't have a problem will male nurses. BTW, my friend was laid to rest this week with renal cell carcinoma, and I give honor to him in this writing.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    Some patients are also biased against having a student care for them, as I found out on my first day of clinicals. I was assigned to this particular patient who was having lots of issues - he was pretty young and suffered a fall and perforated his bowel so he had a colostomy. He also had many other things wrong with him and was dealing with the emotional aspects of his problems. School policy is that we go in and meet our assigned patients the day before clinicals. When I met him, he was in a great mood and he seemed okay with everything. When I came back for clinicals, he didn't want me around at all. Said he didn't want anyone learning on him - however, all of the cares I had to perform on him I had already done for many years as a CNA. After talking with the staff nurses on the best way to handle him, it sounded like he was that way most of the time - he was just harder on me because of my student status.

    I've also come across a couple male patients who think they can get away with some things because of the student status. I value the experience, because it has taught me to be more assertive...but I don't enjoy come ons and I don't enjoy it when someone tries to touch me inappropriately. After talking with staff nurses later, these patients would do these things to students only, because they knew they'd probably get away with it. Just wish the staff nurses would have said something BEFORE hand.

    And to bubbabubba:
    I'm SO sorry about your experience! That's absolutely ridiculous. It was wrong of the nurse to force you to let her prep you for surgery. It might be possible that a male prep nurse wasn't available or wasn't working that day. If so, she totally went about it the wrong way. In this case, it's really great to be your own advocate. I know how you felt and of course, hindsight is 20/20 but sometimes you really have to be FORCEFUL towards some nurses. When I was in the hospital after having my daughter (was in labor for 36 hrs and ended up having a c-section) I was a first time mom learning to breastfeed my baby. Though all of my nurses were female, some of them were very coarse and rude. I remember one nurse coming into my room when I was trying to feed - I hadn't even asked for help - and she just started touching me and repositioning the baby....I felt violated, she was rude and forceful and I didn't want her. Another nurse would sigh loudly if I asked her to help me, she made me feel like I was asking a huge favor when I was only asking her to do her job. I refused to have both of these nurses care for me or my child, even though one of them tried to tell me that they were short staffed and she couldn't find someone different. I told her, "That's not my problem. I'm paying to be cared for in this hospital and I don't feel like I'm receiving the best care with you as my nurse."

    I wish you the best of luck and wish you well in the future!

  • Great_wall_gwt_max50


    about 4 years ago


    As a modest male.......WHen going to a nearby town for surgery last year I had spoken to the hospital in advance about having a male prep nurse (for a transurethral Bladder neck incision operation)-- I was assured there would be no problem and it would be noted on my chart. WHen a female came to my holding area-----I said "NOTHING PERSONAL BUT I'D LIKE TO HAVE A MALE PREP NURSE"--her reply?
    WELL YOU'VE GOT ME! I felt helpless and violated. ALready hooked up to all the IV lines and other monitors I felt I had no choice but to endure this female prep me when I DID NOT WANT HER. I had even written out my directive and she ignored that as paper as well. As I was being rolled down the hall to the O.R. I teared up. ALready nervous, having had 4 other similar operations, I was especially stressed by this event. Every time I had asked for a male prep nurse I was accomodated. THis day, wiith a spinal and fully consious mortified and embarassed I lay there while she scrubbed me down "DOWN THERE" -- My only other course of action I thought was to just scream in front of the assembled OR team. My physician knew of my horror of such a situation yet he did not intervene either.....What should be the penalty for a nurse who behaved like this one did?

  • Untitled1_max50


    about 4 years ago


    As a male nurse who is heterosexual, 6'3", 250 lbs., with a full beard and close cropped hair, I was mentally prepared for all kinds of bad reactions and stereotypes when I decided to make nursing my career. In reality, whether it was nursing school, working in critical care or (now) working in home health, I never have a problem. It's all in the manner of approach; if you are professional, friendly and well-spoken, there isn't a problem. Many of my older female patients have said they really enjoy having me work with them. Take the scrubs and stethoscope and replace with carpenter jeans and a tool-belt, and I'd fit right in with a construction crew (done that in the past also). I am not suited personality-wise for GYN or Perinatal, but I would imagine those might be areas more problematic for men who are nurses. Nursing benefits from having greater diversity in all areas: gender (still 94% female profession) included! Most female nurses are physically unable to match my strength, and there are more obese patients all the time.

  • 0116002324a_max50


    over 4 years ago


    seeing a male nurse pop into my gyn appts wasn't exactly what I expected, maybe if he had introduced himself differently and was a little more sure of his role, I may not have recoiled when he called out my name. I recovered by the time I walked over the threshold, but the first instincts were WOW. Um... ok! I really felt his first day jitters. And, oh- he is so not gay. Just helped deliver his 4th baby and he and his wife are both students in their 2nd year of nursing school! He is very over his first day trauma, and I learned how to accept that men don't have to be the doctors in the room.

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