Friday, January 9, 2009

Estrogen Ocean

I'm terribly sorry that I haven't been posting posts of substance as much lately, and more importantly I've done a pretty lousy job of keeping up with every one's blogs and comments. For the last two exhausting days I've been at orientation for nursing school.

In my pre-nursing classes my estimate of male penetration (hehe, no pun intended,) into the female population was roughly 20%--well above the national average of male nurses which is about 10%. I figured my actual class would be close to the same, but that is not the case. Our class has 110 students, 13 of which are male. I am acutely aware that I'm entering a female dominated profession, and I thought I had prepared myself for that fact.

Yesterday and today was an eye-opening experience.

Never before have I been so adrift in the 'estrogen ocean'. I'm guessing the level of estrogen expression was directly tied to the general anxiety level, but there were several times during the day that I was left just shaking my head... It's very ridiculous in many ways. Because I sport a pair of testicles and a little dangly penis I have to have my assessment lab assignment approved. You see, even though I will be expected to assess female patients with professionalism and without deference, I am not allowed to assess my female classmates. So, the first time in nursing school that I listen for the PMI in the left 5th intercostal space at the midclavicular line and have to wrangle me some sensitive breast tissue, you guessed it, it will be on a real live patient. Yeesh. We're all adults for goodness sake.

In other news we got our clinical assignments. Mine is at a brand new hospital that's literally down the street from our house. Finally, listening to all those ambulances scream by in the night pays off. My schedule is as follows:


8-12 Foundations
1-4 Health Promotion


8-10 Assessment
2-5 Assessment Lab


7-4 Clinical/Foundations Lab alternates weeks.

When my wife comes off maternity leave she'll return to work Thursday-Saturday nights, so I'll be on daddy-duty those nights, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday days while she sleeps. So for now, everything seems to fit nicely.


  1. hooray for starting school! And good luck :)

  2. I have a significant lack of testicles, but I have a very difficult time navigating the "estrogen ocean".

    I find that the best tool is to look people in the face while they are talking and frequently say "uh!" but do not let any of the material past your ears into your brain.

  3. Do worry about assessing near breast tissue in the clinical setting. Most of it is from the Roosevelt Administraion.
    I've worked in the medical profession over 30 years now. I LOVE working with women! They're great to look at (mostly) and their conversations are enlightening.
    Grasp the bull by the horns, so speak, and enjoy the experience!

  4. Love the "estrogen ocean" label! In our class, which started out with 20, dropped to 18 post semester, and is now at 19 with an add-in, we have one man. I was actually hoping for there'd be less estrogen, but what can we do?

  5. The schedule sounds good. Takes me back to the goo old days. I remember sizing everyone up on the "first day". Oh and you'll always get those annoying people who have a story to tell about each disease and process, as if no one else has a story, yet the difference is....some people just aren't rude enough to interupt and bore everyone to tears with it. Ha ha. Sounds exciting and I'm excited for you. I never thought I'd say this, but if you need advice or want to work over some patho I'd love to help. I miss school sometimes. :) Enjoy will be a blast and you'll breeze through. You're one smart cookie.

  6. Here ya go, Bro:

  7. I am currently taking the final pre-reqs before the actual nursing classes, I have my interview on Jan 21 for the actual nursing program, but there is no reason to suspect that I will not get into the program. Anyway I know what you mean about the estrogen ocean, even in my pre-reqs I am usually 1 of 4 guys, and 2 of those guys are not going into nursing, one is going to go further with microbiology and one is doing respiratory therapy. There are some other guys in other pre-reqs that will be nurses, but for the most part the testosterone low. Luckily for me, all of the schools I have ever went to Kindergarten through my first BA degree had a 70-80 percent female population so I have been floating in that ocean for a long time. Just remember, keep a flare gun handy so the Menrines know where to come and rescue if you need it.

  8. I hear ya! I received my RN license in May 2008, after a long, amusing struggle.

    At times (even still, now that I'm in the profession) I feel like I'm wearing my "anthropologist's hat", trying to make sense of this strange culture I've found myself in.

    The best remedies I've found so far for dealing with problems when they arise (particularly gossip, bad attitudes and splitting behavior) lie in the Nursing Process itself (which is really just the scientific process stripped for export).

    Be matter-of-fact. Ask questions. Remember to smile. Help people out and make their jobs easier.

    Existing as a gender minority comes with many challenges, but also gives us some distinct advantages as well (I grew up reading a lot of my mother's feminist literature, it's interesting to see how much of it applies when the gender roles are reversed). A lot of the subtle, catty mind-games that faculty and peers will play on you and each other won't necessarily effect you in the same way they do other people.

    In my program I was expected to assess female students, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Our average age was probably in the high 20s-low 30s, and many of us were on 2nd or 3rd careers.

    When you're treated unfairly, don't take it sitting down. Willingness to advocate for ourselves is one of those things we can model and share with our classmates.

  9. The part I loved most about nursing school was the guys in our class. They very tactfully called the (female) profs out on their sexist BS and had a gentle way of bringing the rest of us back to reality.

  10. LOL... oooh you are just starting your journey. so much more in store for you.
    FYI: we only make up just over 5% of nurses!
    And you have to remember, it's all about the patient and their level of comfort. Not you, your experience, or education. Don't ever take it personal.
    That was the hardest lesson for me.
    Best of luck with school! It's worth the ride!

  11. PM RN--thanks for the great advice. It's nice to hear of those that have recently made it, proof that it's possible, LOL!

    Danasaur--thanks for coming to visit my page, I love reading your blog, you make me smile a lot.

    Strong One--that's excellent advice as well. Perspective. Sometimes I'm perspectively challenged, hehe.