When you are concerned about your health, you should be able to seek medical care without getting judged for your actions. Unfortunately, you hear all too many stories of people forced to have uncomfortable conversations with healthcare providers, conversations that may discourage them from seeking help in the future. This is one of those stories.
In a recent post on Reddit's Am I the A-hole? subreddit, a young woman asked if she would be wrong for reporting a nurse practitioner at urgent care for slut-shaming her. If this doesn't already make your blood boil, just wait until you hear the rest of the story.
The 21-year-old poster explains that she recently had a new sexual partner. They used a condom, but they had just met, so she was a little uneasy since she didn't necessarily know the extent of their sexual history. After a few days, she noticed differences in her discharge, and she was concerned that she'd contracted an STD.
So she did what any responsible person would do: she went to urgent care. The nurse practitioner asked her a series of questions about her sexual activity, and they patient answered honestly so she could be better treated. Also because it's nothing to be ashamed about!
The nurse practitioner believed she had a yeast infection but would also do an STD screening just in case. Fine, cool, answers procured! That should have been the end of the exchange. But it was not.
As she was about to leave, the nurse said, "Dear, will you sit down for just another moment?" and proceeded to shame this responsible patient mercilessly for being a sexually active adult. "You're 21 years old," she said. "You really need to guard and protect your character. Well, you know guys get to have sex all they want and nothing bad comes out of it for them for you know us as women we can't be doing that as much because we have to protect our character."
Oh hell no! I'm fuming, and I wasn't even there. I can't imagine what she must have been feeling in the moment. The young woman was visibly upset and angry, but the nurse continued: "You're going to want to have kids one day, and the way you're living your life now could really hurt you and your chances of having a kid with a good man."
I honestly can't believe a medical professional would ever feel that is an appropriate statement to make. She made wild judgments and assumptions about someone who was just trying to do the right thing for their physical health. Not to mention, women are allowed to have casual sex! It's completely old-fashioned and backward to believe that the amount of sex a woman has affects her "character."
And it's also completely out of line to even assume that this young woman wants to have children one day. There is so much wrong with what this nurse said that I can't even believe it. It's just so completely wrong from top to bottom.
This poor woman was too in shock to say anything to her in the moment, which I completely understand. She came to Reddit because she was unsure if it would be appropriate to report this nurse's behavior. Luckily, almost everyone was in agreement that this nurse needed to be reported.
"150 percent report her to HR," one commenter wrote. "Do it right now. This is rude, regressive, none of her business, and could actually deter women from getting care. You'll be doing yourself and every other woman who walks through those doors a kindness."
"Nurse here," another wrote. "What she was doing was not okay. We all take paths to take care of our patients ethically and treat them with care. We might recommend to use a condom but as you stated you were doing that. If you were my patient I would actually applaud you for having safe sex and still coming in just to make sure. It's not okay to push your morals on someone else."
Even a doctor with an admittedly "very conservative personal view of marriage and sexual behavior" agreed that this nurse was wrong for saying what she did. "If I met you socially and you were up for it," the conservative doctor writes, "I would happily explain my views and discuss them with you. But when I am at work, that is not what I am being paid to do. I am being paid to meet my patients' reasonable medical needs, and not to promote my own personal views."
I'm glad most people were as angry and fired up as I was about this. Going to the doctor can be embarrassing even if you aren't discussing your sexual health. Doctors and nurses should work to make those experiences as comfortable as possible and completely judgment-free.
The original poster wrote an update on the situation. She did the right thing and called the urgent care office, speaking with the manager of the clinic. She explained that she didn't want this person to lose her job but thought it might be pertinent to have a conversation with her about not letting her personal beliefs get in the way when talking to patients.
While she was explaining all this to the manager, it became clear the manager knew exactly who she was talking about. It seems like this nurse has a habit of injecting her own personal views into her medical care. The manager assured her that she would be speaking to the nurse's boss (the doctor), and that she would get a call from the doctor to continue the conversation.
It took a lot of bravery for this young woman to not only realize how wrong this nurse's actions were but then to pursue it. She probably saved a lot of people from shame and unwarranted judgment.
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