Male nurses; too much of a change for the elderly?

Living in the 21st century, gender boundaries are diminishing as we climb further towards equal opportunity. The presence of male nurses is now more commonplace and I wanted to discuss this topic as I originally had mixed emotions.

To begin, I wanted to make it clear that I am completely in favour of equal opportunity. However, I was unsure whether a medical setting is the most appropriate setting considering that many elderly women aren’t used to a male figure being involved in more intimate care.

My late great grandma spent some time in hospital last month and was cared for by a number of hardworking male nurses. They may be equally capable as female nurses however taking my grandma as an example, she found it uncomfortable at first for her more intimate care, such as washing, to be administered by a male nurse.
For elderly people, they have grown up in a world where the role of a nurse was predominately female and therefore I wonder whether it is necessary to potentially cause elderly women distress if they are given their more intimate care by a male rather than a female.
Is it right to make somebody feel uncomfortable in this way for the sake of combatting gender stereotypes?
Is this potentially sacrificing patient satisfaction?

If gender equality is the goal we are aiming for then surely discriminating against male nurses in this way is unfair. Preventing male nurses from administering more intimate care to the elderly, just because it isn’t traditional, would make the care throughout a hospital inconsistent and suggest that some patients are more valued than others.
If we want to make a difference and eliminate gender stereotypes then it is necessary to tackle the problem in all settings.
With the general shortage of nurses in this country, male nurses are a blessing because having just female nurses would increase the shortage.
If we don’t combat gender stereotypes now, how can we expect to create a future where the elderly won’t feel uncomfortable under the care of male nurses? It will be something that society will have to simply get used to.
Although sexism isn’t acceptable in any setting, including medicine, in terms of the patients demands in a hospital setting, what comes first? Enforcing equal opportunity or making a vulnerable elderly person’s potential final days as comfortable as possible?



Shadowing a GP

Last week I spent some time shadowing a general practitioner in my local town, Bedford. By sitting in and listening to appointments and going on home visits, I gained an invaluable insight to the world of general practice.

There is no denying that general practice has changed a lot in the past few years and is set to change even more in the future.

As a career choice, this area of medicine offers the opportunity to build relationships and trust with many patients and the opportunity to deal with a wide variety of cases.

For sure, no day is the same in general practice and there is no such thing as a quiet day. However, general practice is more flexible than some other areas of medicine. The GP I shadowed assured me that despite its hectic nature, general practice is a good idea for anyone who doesn’t intend devoting their entire life to medicine as there is opportunity to work part time.

General practice is in trouble at the moment and I am convinced that the government will need to address it. The GP I shadowed described general practice as the ‘piggy in the middle’ because 90% of all medical cases end up in the field. He explained how in some cases, hospitals aren’t informing or following up care of their patients and are instead leaving general practice to pick up the pieces.

Also, there is a shortage of general practitioners. Despite 50% of all medical graduates going into the field, there still isn’t sufficient numbers to deal with the growing population who are becoming more and more reliant on their GP.

Money is also an issue. General practice receives only about 9% of the budget and are facing more and more budget cuts.

This, together with the increase in hours, is causing many to retire from general practice and live off their pensions which can be collected at the age of 60.

Despite all this, general practice is something I am still interested in. During my experience I was asked ‘do you know what area of medicine you want to go into?’ Honestly, I have little idea. I want to keep an open mind and I’m sure my last year and a half of school plus a 5 year medical degree will give me plenty of time to decide and have other insights and glimpses.


During my lunch break, by some luck I found myself chatting to a nurse practitioner named Linda. At the time, I knew very little about the roles of nurse practitioners and was undoubtably interested in learning. Linda was an authoritative figure over some of the other nurses. She explained to me that after her nursing degree she has done an extra 3 years of bolt on courses. She also runs her own sexual health clinic and it was certainly clear that she loves her job. She was also very encouraging towards me, telling me to follow my dreams and wishing me the best of luck.

I really am grateful to the medical practices involved and the GP I shadowed for offering me this experience.

General practice is busy and the pressure on the staff is only mounting. Nevertheless, the work ethic of these people, the service and importance to the community general practice brings and the relationships between the doctors and patients, I have nothing but awe for.



My Medlink Weekend 2015

I’ve been thinking of starting a blog for a little while now, so here I am.

I’m a year 12 student at Bedford Modern School and I’m studying for a-levels in Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Spanish.

Attending Medlink 2015 at Nottingham university last weekend has really given me an insight to what I want and how I’m going to achieve it.

I want to be a doctor. I know it’s not going to be easy but I’ve decided that that’s not going to put me off.

One individual who spoke at Medlink was particularly memorable. I found James Ridgewell inspiring and I hope he continues his much appreciated work with this age group so that more future doctors can leave feeling empowered to achieve.

The atmosphere at Medlink was certainly unique. The experience of being effortlessly surrounded by other young people with similar interests isn’t one I will forget.