Never have the subjects of sexual harassment and sexual assault been more relevant as they have been in recent years. Advocates for better sexual harassment awareness and prevention say that unreported sexual misconduct has gone on long enough. Women and men in all types of professions can be burdened by unwanted sexual attention from co-workers, but studies show that individuals in certain professions are much more likely to experience sexual harassment or assault at work than others. Nursing, a profession dominated by women, is one of these professions.
Nurses Say Patient Harassment is Unavoidable
Most people would agree that being a nurse is a physically, emotionally, and psychologically demanding job. Nurses not only have to tend to patients’ medical needs, but also their social and emotional needs. Unfortunately, the close proximity of nurses to their patients combined with the emotional connection nurses sometimes form with patients can cause patients to cross the line. Many patients in hospitals or doctor’s offices are elderly, disabled, or cognitively impaired. Some patients who make sexual advances towards nurses do so because they are suffering from conditions like dementia. Other patients may believe that their inappropriate behavior is harmless or simply not care that the sexual advances make their nurse uncomfortable.
Nurses interviewed for an NBC story explained that patients have exposed themselves to nursing staff and sexually groped nurses’ bodies. One nurse even explained that behavior like this is “par for the course” and that all nurses must learn to tolerate it. One poll published by Medscape Medical News found that an overwhelming majority—over 70 percent—of nurses had been sexually harassed by a patient....