Just a place where I can sit and write my thoughts on my newest passion. . . . . knitting. Hopefully, I will better document my progress throughout knitting and get in touch with others as obsessed as I am!

Monday, November 14, 2005

OK, now I am MAD!

Ranting post, Ranting post. Don't say you weren't warned. Continue at your own risk:

So, as you all know from the name of this blog and prior postings, I am a registered nurse. I have a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing. A 4 year degree. At a University. Nursing is a profession. I see it that way, I've always seen it that way. Yes, traditionally, nursing has been a female profession. Unfortunately, that is a negative stereotype that we as a profession have been trying to overcome for as long as there have been nurses. We are not handmaids, we are not inferior to physicians. We have our own specialties and insights that few, if any physicians, will ever be able to grasp. When I entered the collegiate world, I was originally a pre-med student. In the middle of my Fall semester, sophomore year, my Dad had a heart attack. A big heart attack. He was hospitalized at the university affiliated teaching hospital. I took the rapid transit from the university station and got off at the hospital's station with all the medical students and my fellow nursing students to visit him whenever I could. Before class, during breaks, for lunch, after classes. What I saw while I visited was that I did not really want to be a doctor, I wanted to be a nurse. I was able to directly see the differences between the medical profession and the nursing profession. I chose nursing. I loved nursing then and I love it now.

So, what's the problem you might ask? Well, for the whole 17 years of my nursing career I have had a battle with many convincing them that nursing was indeed a profession. A free standing profession. Nurses can (and DO) make decisions and take actions that literally save lives every day. I have had to make physicians, families, PATIENTS understand the importance and value of nursing as a profession over and over again. I knew all of this going in. I accepted that challenge form the beginning and continue to fight it daily.

Again, so what's the problem Jannett? Well, here's the problem. I was recently told of a website for an organization (no need to name as that's not really the problem here) that has issues with ER and other medical shows for their poor representation of nurses. "GREAT!", I said in my ignorance of what I would find there. I went to the site. I read the information on the site and went as far as joining their campaign against ER by mailing out the form letter they have available on said site.

I then was intrigued and went further into the site to join their organization. I began to look over the different pages on joining, gaining 'points' and the merchandise available for purchase. I then FROZE and was appalled. They were offering a male nurse action figure to promote the nursing profession. In doing so they staed that they were trying to validate nursing as a profession because even men are entering into it ("you can buy them as birthday gifts to promote men in nursing and nursing overall" - can you believe that one?). Was there a corresponding female action figure you might wonder? Heck no! As if the mere entry of a penis into our ranks would then validate the hundreds of years of rich nursing history in which there were no men amongst us. AUUGH!

Don't get me wrong. I sincerely understand the plight of male nurses and how difficult a stereotype it is for them to enter our profession. However, I am concerned about the message being sent to females about action figures and themselves as nurses. Why can't a FEMALE be an action figure? Why is it that nurses were never seen or portrayed as figures of action until men began to enter the profession? Why should men be spotlighted now because they finally are entering into one of the most rewarding and amazing profession in the healthcare industry? Where were all the spotlights before???

As a nurse, I agree with and join in on advocating the nursing profession and am vocal about the misrepresentation of nurses in media, TV and movies. I have lived with 17 years of fighting this battle. Even while I attended university for my BSN, I was angered with the show 'Nightingales' in which all the nurses seemed to be airheaded, sex-starved women who wore short skirts and heels at work. I am very feminine and love being pretty and dressing up but I take offense to that portrayal of the nursing profession. My DH will attest to the fact that I am truly a girly girl. That's not the issue here.

Now, 17 years later, I see more and more males entering our profession. BRAVO! I applaud them for finally valuing the profession of nursing and going beyond the stereotype of nursing as a 'woman's' job. However, I am equally (if not more so) appalled that now that men have started to become nurses, the emphasis has been placed on how strong MALE nurses are and how thankful we should be that men are becoming nurses. As if they were coming to the rescue of the nursing profession. That's a load of crap.

I feel that a new stereotype is beginning to unfold: male nurses are superior to female nurses. It seems as though everywhere I turn, male nurses are being commended above female nurses, nurse action figures are males but nurse Barbie dolls are females. MALE nurses are being portrayed as the dominant superior form of the nurse in ads, on TV and in movies. Doctors that I work with are much more likely to heed a male nurse's opinion over a female nurse's opinion regardless of experience or knowledge base. Male nurses on TV and in movies are the ones that 'save the day' while the female nurses mostly pine away after the doctors. We are allowing a whole new prejudice and patronizing atmosphere for the traditional female nurse to emerge by continuing to bow down to men entering nursing.

I WILL NOT join the site's group. Not when they are promoting a new injustice that has begun for all female nurses on a daily basis. We now are not only seen as inferior to physicians, but to our male counterparts as well. Bring on the FEMALE nurse action figure ALONG WITH the male nurse action figure. As a group we need to promote the WHOLE of nursing. We don't need to add another avenue of discrimination within our very ranks and further tear apart our profession along gender lines.

AUUGH, I could just spit nails right now.


At 9:31 PM , Blogger Esther said...

I found your post to be so interesting. As a counselor, I can understand the struggles you are having being a nurse. Counseling, much like nursing is seen as inferior to psychiatry or psychology, even though our training in clinical interventions is often more intense than that of psychiatrists and psychologists!
As for the male/female dynamic...I think it's just awful that women nurses aren't appreciated. I wasn't aware of the similarity in the stigmas of our professions. Thank you for the enlightening post. Just so you know, I think you are fabulous and you should be recognized for all that you do!

At 7:43 AM , Blogger Lolly said...

Thank you for such a great passionate post, Jannett. You are so right! I have alot to say on this subject, but I will just say thank you for bringing attention to it.

Take care-

At 7:58 AM , Blogger amylovie said...

Kind of like when the father stays home with the kids. It is such a BIG DEAL that he is being Mr. Mom. Grrr.

Having been to the hospital recently, I could have kissed the ground the nurse walked on. Be proud!!!

At 9:06 AM , Blogger Liz said...

Ah, how right you are. I'm continually amazed at everything that nurses do and put up with.

I myself am not an especially good patient. I know this, and I admire the nurses who have had to deal with me in the past. :)

I think nurses are HIGHLY under-rated on so many levels. You are very much appreciated.

At 5:33 PM , Blogger knit only but also said...

Hi KnittingNurse
An excellent rant!!! I am a medical librarian and I can thoroughly sympathise, I get so p***d off by patronising comments, it took 4 years of an undergraduate, a 2 year masters, a 9 month postgrad diploma and recently another 3 year masters for essentially a crappy wage and a lot of igonorance. People ask me why I would be a librarian with these qualifications and for the people who ask you/make the dumb comments - well, all I can say is that they have no idea of the real joys/challenges of your job and maybe never will have. I get a huge kick out of the work I do and I can also say that the differences between a newly trained nurse and doctor are like night and day, as for when each gains experience, then there are even greater differences. Well done for a great rant - if you didn't care then you would have posted and you wouldn't be nursing - not with the stresses of the job. By the way, the people you work with will appreciate your drive and passion - I really value the working relationships I build with staff and their commitment to their work really rubs off on me - I couldn't want a better job in terms of working with the professionals I do and nurses make up a large part of that workforce. Keep mad - it shows you care.
respectfully yours! J

At 6:48 PM , Blogger keohinani said...

i believe there are social and cultural constructs that either glorify or denigrate one sex over the other when taken out of more traditional contexts.
and perhaps every person who is glorified for overcoming a stigma held by a majority contributes to an eventual majority that will impose another, different stigma.
consider that a similar argument to the one you just made exists when you consider a stay-at-home dad.
or consider discussions about how women fought for decades for rights to work and educational opportunities equal to those of men, but compromise those opportunities once they've become mothers.
the dichotomy of the world is a double edged sword, and perhaps we too easily take for granted the everyday triumphs over adversity in favor of more novel action.
you make a good point that we should give credit where credit is due, no more and no less.

At 4:16 PM , Blogger Mom (a.k.a. Mary Ann) said...

Once men began to enter the profession of occupational therapy, they started much more rapidly than their female counterparts to advance to heads of departments and professorships. That of course is patently unfair. But I personally never felt cheated, because it was always my preference to be directly involved with the patients/clients/students on my caseload. I was once offered the position of head of an OT department in a university hospital, but I turned it down because I was about to become the mother of twins (one of whom has a comment on this post). I know it is not politically correct, but I never regretted that decision. I absolutely understand and agree with your rant.

At 8:27 PM , Blogger Amy said...

Hee. I can totally picture you shaking your head and typing like a madwoman as you wrote this! Both times I was in the hospital when my kids were born, the nurses we had had a big impact on our experiences. The ones I had during delivery were fabulous; I'll never forget the one who helped me shower after delivery and washed me off like I was a little kid. It made me feel like she really cared. A good nurse makes all the difference!

At 9:38 AM , Blogger Kathy said...


Maybe THIS post helps me understand why our JCAHO surveyor, a male nurse, spent considerable time asking a bedside nurse why there weren't any male nurses on our unit. Huh? Wasnt he there to look at our skills/care/craft, not at the sex of the nurses giving the care?

Thanks for the insight. As long as the nurse is skilled and caring I dont care what their chromosomes are.

At 5:07 PM , Blogger K.T. said...

Nurses Rock! They saved my bacon during my second pregnancy. I had a Cereulean DVT at 10 weeks and I was needless to say, scared half to death. My Doc was great but it was the nurses who comforted me, explained it to me and hugged me when I was in tears. They were my rocks in the scariest thing I have ever gone through. So much so that I am considering going to nursing school when my kids are older. They moved me THAT much.

Also, my fave was the nurse who took my knitting out of my hands and began examining it and working a few rows.

Nurses Rock and don't you forget it!


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