Catheters, Slurs, and Pickup Lines

Catheters, Slurs, and Pickup Lines: Professional Intimacy in Hospital Nursing

Lisa C. Ruchti
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 215
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  • Book Info
    Catheters, Slurs, and Pickup Lines
    Book Description:

    Every day, hospital nurses must negotiate intimate trust and intimate conflict in an effort to provide quality health care. However, interactions between nurses and patients-which often require issues of privacy-are sometimes made more uncomfortable with inappropriate behavior, as when a patient has a racist and/or sexist outburst. Not all nurses are prepared to handle such intimacy, but they can all learn how to "be caring."InCatheters, Slurs, and Pickup Lines, Lisa Ruchti carefully examines this fragile relationship between intimacy and professional care, and provides a language for patients, nurses, and administrators to teach, conduct, and advocate for knowledgeable and skilled intimate care in a hospital setting. She also recommends best training practices and practical and effective policy changes to handle conflicts.Ruchti shows that "caring" is not just a personality characteristic but is work that is structured by intersections of race, gender, and nationality.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0754-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Fantasies and Realities in Nursing Care
    (pp. 1-22)

    Anna,¹ a new Latina nurse, prepared for what was next on her shift: she had to go change a catheter for Alan, a young white man. As she gathered her materials, Anna thought about how uncomfortable she had felt the first time she changed a catheter as a nursing student. She marveled about how it did not bother her anymore, but it did sometimes still make her nervous. “When did that change?” she wondered. Anna considered the various ways she could act with her patient during the procedure. When she first asked her mentor, Jason, about this, he suggested she...

  5. 1 Invisible Intimacy in Nursing
    (pp. 23-56)

    No administrator at the hospital could articulate the process of care—for example, how nurses specifically made patients feel safe or responded to their needs across many different contexts. This did not mean that hospital leaders did not value care. The hospital demonstrated the priority it placed on care through its mission, its value statements, and its Magnet status. While all three of these acknowledged care in various ways, none of them included topics related to professional intimacy. For example, my interview with the hospital president revealed that, although he valued nurses, he could not say how care happened and...

  6. 2 Social and Commercial Aspects of Intimate Care Work
    (pp. 57-76)

    In February, I began observing the largest, most racially and ethnically diverse staffed unit in the hospital, which the director, Mary, jokingly called the United Nations. At any one time, seven nurses and five patient care technicians shared the work of caring for up to thirty-six patients. There were forty nurses in all, of whom four were from the Philippines, two from Ethiopia, one from Bosnia, and one from Congo. When I began observing this unit, I started to fully understand how social constructions of race and nationality informed the meaning and practice of professionally intimate care:

    About sixteen people...

  7. 3 Catheters, Communications, and Intimate Trust
    (pp. 77-106)

    Getting a catheterization is one of the many ordinary hospital procedures that is intimate for the patient but not for the nurse. Instead, the intimacy in acts of care—such as carefully inserting a catheter—is mundane intimate labor. I have used the act of giving and receiving a catheter to help illustrate why nurses need their patients to trust them. On a continual basis, when patients trust their nurses, it is easier for them to receive quality health care. New nurses are not prepared to handle intimacy, but experienced nurses know that the way patients trust them is through...

  8. 4 Slurs, Pickup Lines, and Intimate Conflicts
    (pp. 107-134)

    When I began to discuss with nurses how they negotiate conflict with patients, many talked about conflict that happens on the “psych” floor, in the “psych” unit, or with “psych” patients. When I designed my study, I purposefully avoided the psychiatric unit, the emergency room, or other units that had already been identified as units with “difficult” patients or unusual circumstances. Nonetheless, I found that the reputations of these units and these patients traveled to the units I studied. That is, there existed a dominant idea that the potentially violent patients or the “difficult” patients existed elsewhere in the hospital....

  9. 5 Individual and Collective Intimate Strategies
    (pp. 135-158)

    Patients and family members engaged in harmful and harassing behaviors, which I termintimate conflict. Nurses managed these interactions as a part of professionally intimate labor. Although the hospital administrators in my study appreciated nurses and care as an institutional value, nurses generally handled intimate conflict on their own. They employed individual strategies, such as ignoring the conflict, confronting the conflict, and negotiating interactions with patients and family members. Sometimes, however, they also worked together, collectively strategizing through the support of charge nurses, the practice of switching patients, and the sharing of knowledge with each other.

    In this chapter, I...

  10. Conclusion: A Call for Collective Nursing Practices and Continued Research
    (pp. 159-166)

    Nurses in my studywantedto care but did not always have the time, the institutional support, or the knowledge to establish and maintain trust with their patients.¹ This is in large part because the rhetoric of professional work does not include bedside care as a set of labor practices that require skill and expertise. At the same time, patients, nurses, and other medical personnel do not see these acts of negotiating intimacy as labor. Instead, they describe them as personality traits that some nurses have naturally. While I am the first to admit that some nurses may seem naturally...

  11. Appendix A: Why I Define My Research as Feminist
    (pp. 167-188)
  12. Appendix B: Nurse Demographics
    (pp. 189-190)
  13. Appendix C: Illustrations: Model of Professional Intimacy and Nursing School Recruitment
    (pp. 191-192)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 193-202)
  15. References
    (pp. 203-212)
  16. Index
    (pp. 213-215)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 216-216)