Clinical Strategies for Improving the Experience of Male Nursing Students in Obstetrical Clinical

Monday, 30 October 2017

Jill M. Morsbach, MSN
School of Nursing, Missouri Western State University, Plattsburg, MO, USA

Nursing has traditionally been viewed as a women's profession. According to the US Census Bureau, only 9% of the nursing workforce is male. We are seeing an increase in the number of males in nursing school. Today, males make up approximately 15% of all student nurses. As the number of men choosing nursing as their profession increases, nurse educators need to plan clinical experiences to ensure quality learning experiences for all students in all specialties. Gender bias, societal stereotypes, and marginalization have traditionally been experienced by males in various clinical settings. One nursing specialty in which this is particulary noticeable is Obstetrics. Although the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has released a position statement stating that, “nurses, regardless of gender, should be employed in nursing based on their ability to provide clinically competent quality care.” There is still gender bias regarding male nurses in obstetrics. In a qualitative study, male nursing students from a traditional BSN program in the Midwest initially described their experiences as "akward" and "uncomfortable." The students then shared actions that they felt improved their learning and comfort level in their obstetrical clinical experiences. A few of the suggestions given by these students included; educating the patients on what cares they would be providing, including the significant other in the care of the patient and patient education, and personally seeking permission from the patient to care for them. One student stated, "Being a male student in OB is only as uncomfortable as you make it." Other students identified that multiparous patients and patient's with male providers were more willing to accept care from a male nursing student. The students observations were shared with obstetrical nurses and nursing faculty with a goal of enhancing student learning, improving the safety and quality of patient care, as well as increasing patient satisfaction.