Nurse at risk of sexual harassment after failing to report alleged abuse
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PREPARATORY COURSE: Nurses at risk for sexual harassment in Texas are being told to “preparate for the worst.”
Preparatory courses at Texas hospitals have long been considered the first step to becoming a licensed nurse.
They have a reputation for providing the safest environment for nurses and have been at the forefront of a recent push by lawmakers and hospital officials to increase the number of nursing jobs available.
But new research suggests those courses may actually lead to sexual harassment, especially in cases where a nurse’s gender is not a factor.
“The pre-pregnancy care component in our RN/DPN curriculum may be the most problematic,” said Dr. Lisa L. Williams, director of nursing at University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
“If a nurse is not prepared to handle a potentially life-threatening situation, they may be sexually harassed.
There is no way to protect the public when that happens.”
According to the Center for Health Security and Safety at the University of Washington, a pre-requisite course at hospitals that requires nursing students to work with a nurse in the “primary care” or “general medical” category is known to be associated with the most instances of sexual assault.
The center, a nonprofit, has documented over 40 cases of sexual abuse at the Houston hospital system between 2009 and 2017.
The most recent reported case occurred in 2016, when the Houston police department said it was notified of the alleged sexual assault of a nurse at the hospital.
The Houston Police Department declined to comment on the current investigation into the incident.
Williams said her research into the issue is “totally biased” and “exclusively focused on the nursing component.”
She said she was unaware of any case that had been reported to the police department because “there was no way of investigating it.”
A nurse’s experience with sexual assault may vary, but it is often similar.
A 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that nurses were more likely to be sexually assaulted than doctors, but that “not every case of sexual misconduct is due to nurses.”
In 2017, Texas hospitals held the second highest number of sexual assaults among states with at least one accredited nurse, the CDC noted.
The problem of sexual violence is an issue that is often ignored by healthcare professionals, and many are afraid to report it.
The CDC said it “often goes unnoticed” because of the stigma that accompanies sexual assault, and because of fears that they will lose their jobs if they come forward.
Williams said she is “shocked” by the results of her research, but believes that it is an “important conversation to have.”
“We need to have conversations about sexual assault and the impact it has on women in the profession,” she said.
“I think this is an important conversation to get people to talk about this.”
A number of hospitals across the country are considering requiring pre-PBPW nurses to undergo sexual assault screening.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is also working to change nursing education to include an “affirmative consent” component, a change that would help protect both the nurses and their patients.
PREPARATORY COURSE: Nurses at risk for sexual harassment in Texas are being told to “preparate for the worst.”Preparatory courses at…