Friday, April 4, 2008

"Hello, I'm Tanthalas and I'm your nurse today."

PS. I'm a 3rd year BSN student but am currently working as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) on the weekends. I challenged my LPN exam after my second year of my BSN for some extra cash and experience.

At the hospital I work at the routine is the same on all floors. 0730 rolls around and it's time for shift change. 0735 hits and you exchange pleasantaries with the day/night staff. 0740 arrives and you give report. 0745 and you look at the Kardex to see what type of patient load you have, what you have to do, and if you're going to survive the day with or without coffee. 0755 rolls around and I pick up my team sheet and go into room 601 to see Mrs. Miller (pps. All names have been changed, obviously).

"Hello, Mrs. Miller," I say as I wake her up from a slumber. She briefly glares at me, her eyes focus, and she groggily replies: "Oh, hello. Are you my doctor?" At this point I understand the usual stereotype of male doctors and what not but I reply: "No, I am one of your nurses today." She cocks an eyebrow and looks at me funny. "Oh, so you're a male nurse. Good for you" she says.

I've been working in the hospital for about a year and a half now and this still bugs the living shit out of me. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I'm a nurse - not a male nurse. You don't normally call your gas station attendant a male gas station attendant, or your butcher a female butcher. Sure, the population with testicles between their legs are definitely the minority in the workforce, but it shouldn't translate into us being addressed by our gender.

The whole gender issue thing goes much deeper. I live in Canada, and as far as I know, there's definitely a double standard between males and females. Women are allowed to hit males and it is considered to be MORE accepted than a husband smacking his wife. Women are definitely more vocal about their rights (eg. bra burnings!) and rightfully so; women have overcome tremendous strife to achieve their position today - but still are not, in some fields, as guaranteed opportunity as males.

If women have achieved this standard, should us guys do the same? "Hell no, grow a pair, you pansy!" says the burly construction worker. "You're in a female-dominated profession, suck it up. It was your choice to enter that field." says the CEO of some rich company. These two aforementioned statements do offer suggestions that need to be taken into account; however, just because us guys make up such a small minority of nurses shouldn't translate to us being addressed as our gender and subsquent title.

This whole issue of being known as a male nurse can sometimes rag on me - not all the time, but sometimes. In my scurbs at work, I've sometimes walked down the hallways to the ER just to see what it's like and some people in the waiting room refer to me as doctor. I don't bother correcting them. Maybe I do this because of the prestige that comes with being a physician and I can relish in the limelight for a few moments or maybe I like it because I'm not a minority in a profession for a change.

One day, the whole 2% of males in nursing will rise up and take over the world.... one IV start at a time!

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