How urologists can be more sensitive to male patients

Most urology practices in the United States do not employ male nurses or assistants, even in larger cities. This is a serious problem because approximately 75 percent of urology patients are male.

Often people wrongly assume that men don’t care about their modesty. In many cases, this is simply not true. Societal norms say men are not supposed to be modest that this is a sign of weakness. From childhood, males are socialized to “man up” — make believe it doesn’t bother them — when faced with an embarrassing medical exam or procedure or to acknowledge embarrassment only serves to amplify it.

Many urologists may not realize that countless male patients forego medical care or stop coming to appointments because male nurses or assistants aren’t available and these patients feel they cannot speak up for fear of being labeled weak or crazy.

All-male staffed urology clinics in the United States are nearly non-existent. Nowadays, women have the option of going to an all-female OB/GYN practice; men should also have this option. Every major city in the United States should have at least one all-male staffed urology clinic specifically for men. These male-specific clinics could be very lucrative because male patients who avoided or delayed medical care would consider traveling to them.

We encourage all urologists to work on being more sensitive to male patients. Below are some tips to use as a guide.

Tips for urologists:

1. Hire at least one male nurse and a male assistant for the urologic clinic. Recruit male nurses, ultrasound technicians, and assistants at the local community college if necessary.

2. If no male nurses or assistants are available do as many procedures, such as vasectomy, as possible without assistance.

3. Encourage office staff to respect male patients’ privacy. Educate female staff about patient sensitivity and health issues. For instance: a male patient may not want to talk to the female receptionist about his health issue.

4. Always give a male patient the option of having his wife present for procedures.

5. Consider putting a “do not disturb” sign on the exam door so other medical personnel do not randomly enter during intimate exams.

6. Consider starting a private all-male staffed urology clinic geared to special interest in male patients, especially getting them to see a doctor more often. Perhaps add a male gastroenterologist to the practice. Advertise the clinic as being all-male staffed and sensitive to men’s modesty.

7. Many men care about their modesty during surgical procedures, especially if they are under general anesthesia. For these modest patients who require surgery at a hospital or an outpatient surgery center commit to helping them get an all-male surgical team. Be open to using local or regional anesthesia whenever possible which allows the patient to be awake and alert during a procedure. It would give that modest patient peace of mind.

Misty Roberts is founder, Medical Patient Modesty.

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