Letters in VIEW : Nurses in Modern World

March 14, 1985

I am writing to commend Times Staff Writer Ann Japenga and the three staff photographers--Bob Chamberlin, Ian Dryden and Marsha Traeger--for the nice job they did depicting several aspects of nursing today ("Nurses Seek to Upgrade Their Profession in a Changing Medical World," Feb. 17). Japenga did especially fine work pulling the comments of Patricia Underwood, president of the California Nurses Assn., and Margretta Styles, dean of the UC San Francisco School of Nursing, together into an interesting and readable story full of information.

I'd like to inform Japenga and any other interested persons that California now has a second doctoral program in nursing. The Philip Y. Hahn School of Nursing at the University of San Diego enrolled its first class of doctoral students in September, 1984.

One other comment--in this era of cost containment in health care, nurses and doctors are going to be working together in many new ways to serve the public effectively and efficiently. Although the nurse-physician relationship has sometimes been unsatisfying and inequitable in the past, it is time for this potentially forceful and creative relationship to mature.



President, Zeta Mu Chapter,

Sigma Theta Tau:

The National Honor

Society for Nursing

Lewis Thomas, quoted in your article on nurses, was not speaking merely from the vantage point of an author and/or patient.

Lewis Thomas was born in New York, the son of a physician and a registered nurse. He attended Princeton University and Harvard Medical School. He has held appointments at many medical schools and hospitals, including the University of Minnesota Medical School and New York University Medical Center. After several years at the Yale University Medical School, he was named president of Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York City and is now its chancellor.

In Thomas' "The Youngest Science," Chapter 7 relates his beliefs and experiences with registered nurses. He therefore speaks from the "exalted" position of a doctor and his quote is an accolade for nurses. Rarely has a doctor ever publicly or in print acknowledged the unique professional contribution of nursing to patients or to any health care individual or agency.

I write this as a registered nurse with more than 40 years of experience across the country.


Acting director of nursing

MedStar Home Health Services

I found it quite interesting to read the article on Feb. 17 by Ann Japenga, "Not Always What Doctor Ordered--Male Nurse Mike Meyer Is a Minority Within a Minority." Since I too am a "minority within a minority," being employed in a secretarial occupation, I am more than aware of the image problems and difficulties of advancing to higher positions that males experience who are employed in traditional female-oriented occupations, and which Japenga's article brings forth.

Although the nursing and secretarial professions are two entirely different occupations, they are nevertheless two typical fields that are female-dominated and female-stereotyped, and consequently since these fields are viewed as "feminine" occupations, many men would not want to enter these fields. Employers also may view this as a deterrent to hiring or promoting males in such fields, thereby creating a vicious cycle and resulting in a reverse sex discrimination pattern.

I am presently employed as a senior judicial secretary for the County of Los Angeles, and in the more than seven years that I have worked in the stenographic/secretarial field, I have found it extremely difficult to advance, despite having had the proper qualifications, skills, experience, outstanding evaluations, etc., because the truth is that many employers in the county prefer a female secretary, which explains why there are only nine male secretaries out of 928 such positions in the county, according to an analysis conducted in June, 1983.

There are county secretarial positions that earn up to $2,800-$2,900 a month. These executive secretarial positions are all held by female secretaries, and notwithstanding the fact that the county has more than 50 departments, none of these departments employs a male secretary to work as secretary to the department head.



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