Memories of my time as a psychiatric nurse

Nursing 1985 - Year 2 of my Training

During our second year of training, we were sent to work at Waikato Public Hospital for further training in general nursing practices. This was an eye-opener in a number of ways.

I got a good taste of being on the wrong side of sexism there. There were very few male nurses in the hospital, and the prevailing attitude seemed to be that it was really a woman's vocation. This way of thinking was far more prominent amongst patients than staff, but it was the smaller number of prejudiced staff that made my life difficult. Most charge nurses I dealt with were unhappy about me being there (although that could also have been attributed to my being a psychiatric student, or my annoying habit of questioning of the way patient's psychological needs were dealt with, or my long hair).

My time in obstetrics was the worst. The matron hated me the moment she met me and I was instantly assigned to sluice room duties. I wasn't trusted to be around real live patients and was given very little opportunity to learn anything. In fact this suited me fine, as I was not the least bit interested in this field and was happier in the company of bedpans than babies. My attitude changed slightly after assisting with my first delivery - that was an amazing experience. Still, I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there.

It was difficult working with patients who didn't like having a male nurse. Female patients often saw it as a violation of their basic rights and insisted on having a female nurse. Male patients also tended to be uncomfortable, especially during some of the more intimate nursing procedures. Many men also felt that having a female nurse at their beck and call should be one of the perks of hospitalisation.


(The rest of my nursing notes are still buried somewhere. I'll find them one day.)