We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Catheters, Slurs, and Pickup Lines

Professional Intimacy in Hospital Nursing

Lisa C. Ruchti

Publication Year: 2012

Every day, hospital nurses must negotiate intimate trust and intimate conflict in an effort to provide quality health care. However, interactions between nurses and patients—which often require issues of privacy—are sometimes made more uncomfortable with inappropriate behavior, as when a patient has a racist and/or sexist outburst. Not all nurses are prepared to handle such intimacy, but they can all learn how to "be caring."

In Catheters, Slurs, and Pickup Lines, Lisa Ruchti carefully examines this fragile relationship between intimacy and professional care, and provides a language for patients, nurses, and administrators to teach, conduct, and advocate for knowledgeable and skilled intimate care in a hospital setting. She also recommends best training practices and practical and effective policy changes to handle conflicts.

Ruchti shows that "caring" is not just a personality characteristic but is work that is structured by intersections of race, gender, and nationality.


Published by: Temple University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (38.6 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (33.1 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (36.9 KB)
pp. ix-x

Ihave never been a nurse or worked in a medical setting. As a result, I could not have written this book without the guidance, interest, and intellectual support of the many nurses I had the pleasure to stand by, follow, and share a cup of coffee with. Their continued enthusiasm for my research sustained me throughout this study. ...

read more

Introduction: Fantasies and Realities in Nursing Care

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.4 KB)
pp. 1-22

Anna,1 a new Latina nurse, prepared for what was next on her shift: she had to go change a catheter for Alan, a young white man. As she gathered her materials, Anna thought about how uncomfortable she had felt the first time she changed a catheter as a nursing student. ...

read more

1. Invisible Intimacy in Nursing

pdf iconDownload PDF (125.6 KB)
pp. 23-56

No administrator at the hospital could articulate the process of care—for example, how nurses specifically made patients feel safe or responded to their needs across many different contexts. This did not mean that hospital leaders did not value care. ...

read more

2. Social and Commercial Aspects of Intimate Care Work

pdf iconDownload PDF (92.1 KB)
pp. 57-76

In February, I began observing the largest, most racially and ethnically diverse staffed unit in the hospital, which the director, Mary, jokingly called the United Nations. At any one time, seven nurses and five patient care technicians shared the work of caring for up to thirty-six patients. ...

read more

3. Catheters, Communications, and Intimate Trust

pdf iconDownload PDF (116.3 KB)
pp. 77-106

Getting a catheterization is one of the many ordinary hospital procedures that is intimate for the patient but not for the nurse. Instead, the intimacy in acts of care—such as carefully inserting a catheter—is mundane intimate labor. I have used the act of giving and receiving a catheter to help illustrate why nurses need their patients to trust them. ...

read more

4. Slurs, Pickup Lines, and Intimate Conflicts

pdf iconDownload PDF (118.2 KB)
pp. 107-134

When I began to discuss with nurses how they negotiate conflict with patients, many talked about conflict that happens on the “psych” floor, in the “psych” unit, or with “psych” patients. When I designed my study, I purposefully avoided the psychiatric unit, the emergency room, ...

read more

5. Individual and Collective Intimate Strategies

pdf iconDownload PDF (105.6 KB)
pp. 135-158

Patients and family members engaged in harmful and harassing behaviors, which I term intimate conflict. Nurses managed these interactions as a part of professionally intimate labor. Although the hospital administrators in my study appreciated nurses and care as an institutional value, nurses generally handled intimate conflict on their own. ...

read more

Conclusion: A Call for Collective Nursing Practices and Continued Research

pdf iconDownload PDF (58.3 KB)
pp. 159-166

Nurses in my study wanted to care but did not always have the time, the institutional support, or the knowledge to establish and maintain trust with their patients.1 This is in large part because the rhetoric of professional work does not include bedside care as a set of labor practices that require skill and expertise. ...

Appendix A: Why I Define My Research as Feminist

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.7 KB)
pp. 167-188

Appendix B: Nurse Demographics

pdf iconDownload PDF (42.5 KB)
pp. 189-190

Appendix C: Illustrations: Model of Professional Intimacy and Nursing School Recruitment

pdf iconDownload PDF (132.9 KB)
pp. 191-192


pdf iconDownload PDF (64.3 KB)
pp. 193-202


pdf iconDownload PDF (66.7 KB)
pp. 203-212


pdf iconDownload PDF (47.5 KB)
pp. 213-215

read more

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF (18.8 KB)

Lisa C. Ruchti is an Assistant Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies program and the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781439907542
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439907535

Page Count: 215
Illustrations: 1
Publication Year: 2012