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Wednesday, April 1, 2020  

From Leon, RNPublished 2/28/2005

Dear Editor,

Thanks for a great newspaper! We really enjoy it – Especially Elizabeth’s column.

Jerry challenged us to "prove him wrong" so I am sharing my experiences as an Oklahoma nurse. I have been an RN since 1964; a male since 1938. My nursing career was devoted to being a nurse, not a nurse taking care of males.

Entering nursing in 1961 raised eyebrows! Responding with humor was all it took. The only invitation to fight during my career came when I informed a ward clerk I was the DON…she was not. The lab tech invited me outside. I didn’t go.

Some of the women in a small town were embarrassed to have a male in the delivery room, but most were grateful for a nurse. My wife (an RN) and I were the first nurses to assure 24 hour a day professional nursing coverage there.

There was a problem in 1981 in a small hospital (now closed). I was an agency nurse and the LPN in the CCU was angry because they put me in charge. She said, "No matter how stupid the RN is, they get to be in charge just because of that (expletive deleted) RN license!" "Not a problem, you be in charge. Just tell me what to do!" She wore herself out, but she proved herself capable!

The agency sent me to two other rural hospitals and I was treated as an equal both times. I also worked as staff and agency nurse in 4 large hospitals and in private dialysis clinics without any challenges to my maleness or nursing ability.

What I did notice was that some nurses preferred the men be in charge simply because their family obligations were priorities. All nurses are "slighted" or "abused" at times. Those stresses are a part of every profession. Wisdom is to ignore the slights – they usually have more to do with the slighter than the slighted.

I close with this challenge: "Let’s treat our peers with the same love and respect we give our patients."


Leon, RN

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