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?