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Section: sexuality, work

Dear Ann Landers,
I read your column about the woman who needed a breast exam and was offended that the technician was male. The ignorance of the American public about male nurses is shameful. I am a male nurse who chose this field because I want to make a difference in people's lives. I want to ease their suffering and do what I can for the sick and dying. Male nurses take the same classes as our female counterparts. We have the same training and lose the same amount of sleep, which is considerable. We work right alongside our female colleagues and are licensed by the same state board. When I am assigned a female patient, it would never occur to me to make a pass or derive any sexual pleasure from that individual. Believe me, a hospital is not the romantic setting that the TV shows project. Please let all the female patients who read your column know that we are there only to make their hospital stay, medical tests and surgery as easy and comfortable as possible. There is no hidden agenda. -- Everywhere, USA

Dear Everywhere,
Thank you for speaking so eloquently about a subject that needs airing. TV has indeed portrayed hospitals as places where romances flourish and love affairs abound. The shows may romanticize the hospital setting, but the people who work there know it is serious business.

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

Meg's Comment
I can see how being a male nurse or doctor in this situation can be frustrating. However, as a woman, I think the main issue is the comfort of the patient. You don't know her background or what kind of trauma she has experienced. Maybe, (like me!), she respects you as a professional, but is embarrassed and uncomfortable having her first unexpected experience with a male doctor during a difficult and emotionally taxing labor. Perhaps she is wary because she doesn't know you, and she's read the news reports of male doctors and nurses that DO abuse their power. Maybe she wonders if you can understand how she's feeling, because men and women process things so differently. Maybe she's self-conscious. Don't take it so personally - it's a matter of trust and comfort, and if your patients had the chance to know you, most probably wouldn't object. It's just a fact of life that we all feel more comfortable with those we have a lot in common with (birds of a feather), and sometimes basic biology is the commonality that stands out. You can't expect everyone to trust a stranger instantly.

Reader Comment
Oh,good grief! The vast majority of breast exams are done by men because most physicians are men. Being "offended" by that fact is pretty silly.

Reader Comment
This woman could ask for a female nurse for her next breast exam.
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Dear Readers,
, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"If you marry a man who cheats on his wife, you'll be married to a man who cheats on his wife."
-Ann Landers