04 June 2009

Nursing

If it's not one thing, it's another, and these days, it all seems to be medically related.

  • My father's been in the hospital since Monday, as a result of internal bleeding. He's going to have surgery - but I don't know when, tomorrow maybe?

  • My husband can't see out of one eye, because of idiopathic chorioretinopathy.He's got a little bit of peripheral vision in that eye, but reading is a chore, climbing stairs requires concentration, and driving at night is impossible. It might get better, but it's been three months since it happened.

  • I need to have a colonoscopy next week. Oh, and I have a sore throat.

Yesterday we were having birthday cake in the office for a woman whose husband just graduated from nursing school. One thing led to another, and we ended up in an animated conversation about the word "nurse" - namely, does the word itself imply that the person with that job is a woman? My 67 year old male boss thinks that, as stewardess became flight attendant, "nurse" needs a new word without a gender connotation. I think it's sociological and generational - there was a time when nearly all nurses were women, and nearly all doctors were men. But today, if I introduced you to "his wife the doctor", you wouldn't bat an eyelash.  And if you'd been hanging out in the emergency room the other night, while they tried to figure out what was going on with my father, you'd have noticed that nearly half of the ER nurses were male.

Granted, the etymology of the word "nurse" comes from breastfeeding and the nourishment of the young. So, a man can't nurse but can be a nurse.

What do you think? Do you assume that a nurse is going to be female?

31 comments:

kathy a. said...

nope, there have been plenty of male nurses around the past couple decades, as well as plenty of female doctors. there are still male/female assumptions about those professions [and teachers, and lawyers, etc.], but i hope those are fading fast.

kathy a. said...

also -- arrgh! lots of the medical woes going around your family right now. hope everyone is better.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I do assume a nurse is going to be female. I also assume a doctor is going to be male. That doesn't mean I'm surprised to see the reverse --- that's just the initial image in my mind's eye.

I'm sorry about your dad.

heidi said...

tooo much going on. Wish I could help. Can I help?
xoh

meno said...

There are times when i pray that the nurse will be a female, but no, i don't assume they are women.

Sorry about your dad AND your poor husband.

Gotta Knit! said...

Sorta. I work in the medical profession and the has been an increase in male nurses in the 11 years I've been practicing but there still is much more female nurses than males.

As for Doctors that seems very neck and neck. Course you throw a white jacket on any male in the medical field and he is suddenly a M.D. to all patients. Me being female, I'm always a nurse even after I've told them I'm a Physical Therapist.

Anjali said...

Oh gosh, you have a lot on your plate. I hope everyone's doing better soon.

slouchy said...

thinking of you. here if you need me.

Aunt Becky said...

Aw, M, I'm sorry things are such a medical mess. I can't answer the nurse question because I am one and biased (or something).

Here's a day-brightener for you:

The Latin word for "old woman?"

I kid you not.

ANUS.

Gina said...

I don't, but sadly, I know a lot of people who still assume that a nurse is female and a doctor is male. It drives me crazy when I hear people say "male nurse" or "female doctor".

Life As I Know It said...

sorry to hear of all the medical issues going on in your family right now. Hoping everyone is on the mend soon. Stressful, though, I'm sure.

In the doctor's offices the nurses are almost always female, but the last time I was in the hospital I had all male nurses. Don't know what that says, but there it is.

I don't think the term "nurse" needs to be changed. It's gender neutral (unlike stewardess or mailman).

painted maypole said...

i'm sorry you're dealing with so many health related stresses

i do not assume a nurse will be female, and i think "nurse someone back to health" is common enough now that "nurse" means more than just breastfeeding.

mayberry said...

I guess I am still a bit surprised when a nurse turns out to be a man.

I hope everything clears up soon and you don't need any nurses in your life for quite awhile.

phd in yogurtry said...

No more new occupational names, please! I have enough trouble keeping up with all the old ones : )

But yes, when the nurse walks into a room, I immediately expect a woman. Likewise, a teacher. It'll change, though. There really are more and more male nurses.

Awesome Mom said...

I hope your family starts getting healthy again. It is no fun to be snowed under with illnesses.

I really don't assume that the nurse will be female as Evan has had a lot of wonderful male nurses taking care of him during his various stays in the hospital. I was relieved that I had all women nurses when I recently had my baby. I try and be open minded and all (my OB with my first two kids was male) but I would have felt very odd being cared for by a man in such a female situation.

Florinda said...

My cousin (the oldest grandson) is a nurse. I used to work with a woman whose husband, an ex-football player, was a nurse. But when I'm at the gynecologist's, I still expect the nurses to be women.

I'm sorry so many things are hitting your family health-wise right now. Hope it settles down before that trip to Chicago next month!

Bwen said...

If it's an ob-gyn, I assume the doctor is female. For some reason, dentists always seem male to me and I have yet to me a female one. I am probably alone in that.

I'm sorry to hear about your father. Best of luck for a speedy recovery.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm probably guilty of assuming a nurse would be female. I do hear the term "male nurse" used.

I hope the outcome of all your family's medical issues is positive. That must be so rough on your husband.

Kyddryn said...

I don't presume, any more, that a nurse will be a certain gender. I roll with the times, yo. I also don't think it needs renaming, since it's not really a gender -specific word.

Healing thoughts to your papa and spouse, and much sympathy for you, Mizz Magpie - a sore throat AND a sore bottom? Hardly seems fair...

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (who is thinking, if Mizz Magpie has a sore throat AFTER the colonoscopy, someone either went too far or the wrong way...)

de said...

Yeesh. I'd be a total mess if I couldn't see out of one of my eyes, though I often wish for deafness. I certainly hope it resolves. Is he a "Type A personality," as wiki suggests?

Sorry about your dad, too. A week in the hospital, culminating in exploratory surgery ranks quite low in my book.

Although I don't have any expectations about the sex of a nurse, I personally have never been cared for by a male nurse. My only hospitalizations have been on the maternity ward, though.

ozma said...

Holy smack...How are you keeping it together?

I had a student once talk to me about how the idea of a male nurse just freaked him out. Also, he claimed that it freaked everyone out. I thought this was so interesting but I'm still kind of baffled by it. I think it is deeper than just the gender associations with the usual person who is a nurse but something about the maternal nature of nursing in people's mind. In the old days.

daysgoby said...

Well, no, but my uncle is an incredible trauma nurse, so I don't have so many preconceived notions.

Hope everyone gets well - and quickly!

Rachel said...

I guess I do assume that a nurse will be female, but not necessarily that a doctor will be male. I don't think the term nurse needs to change, though. Besides, what would you call them?

Wow, so sorry about all the medical woes! I hope every makes a quick recovery!

liz said...

I hope the medical issues in your family all get resolved happily.

I had 2 male nurses and 10 female ones while I visited the hospital two weeks ago. Doctors were split about 50/50.

Judging by my reactions to first meeting the male nurses, I regretfully say that yes, I do have the expectation that a nurse will be female. Even though my male cousin Eulan is a nurse.

FreshHell said...

Sorry to hear about all that! But, when I think of "nurse" and "nursing" breastfeeding is what comes to mind first. Probably because I spent a number of years doing almost nothing but. But, when I think about a nurse - noun - I do conjure up an image of a woman first.

Ms. N said...

In my thoughts I think nurse = lady, but that doesn't mean I bat an eyelash when the nurse is a guy.

That said, my thoughts are with you and your family right now.

kate said...

Ugh, that's a whole lotta stuff to deal with. Have you had a colonoscopy before? I always feel the need to offer this advice to first-time colonoscopyers: the prep is the worst part of it. Get a book and a jug of water and plan to just camp out in the bathroom for a few hours. The procedure itself is not so bad, and they give you good drugs.

Hope everyone gets well soon.

alejna said...

I'm sorry you and your family have all that to deal with. That sounds so stressful. I'll be thinking of you.

As for the nursing bit, I confess that I still have the expectation that a nurse will be a woman. The vast majority of nurses that I have encountered have been women. In real life (in doctor's offices and limited hospital time as well as some friends) and on TV (mostly watching a lot of MASH when I was growing up). I certainly know that there are men who are nurses, and have met some, but it's not my default assumption.

wheelsonthebus said...

well, you got a crappy deal lately, huh? i am sorry.

KC said...

I get called "nurse" more than you can imagine. I correct those old men gently, matter-of-factly but it is a part of being a female doctor. Even wearing a white coat and all.

Kyla said...

Good luck with all of the health issues! I hope your father is okay.

We've had lots of male nurses (the one who did my volunteer training was a man) so I don't think of it as an exclusively or even mostly feminine role anymore.