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Ananova is all over that miniskirted nurse beat

September 29, 2006 -- Today the Ananova site posted a very short item headlined "Nurses in Romania to wear miniskirts." The piece continues Ananova's aggressive coverage of efforts by local hospitals in Southeast Europe to get their unruly nurses into skirts. One year ago, the site posted a remarkably similar piece about a Croatian hospital that had directed all nurses to wear skirts instead of the "untidy" trousers some had been wearing. That piece included a quote from the hospital director: "The length of those skirts, be they miniskirts or otherwise, is up to the nurses." Today's piece reports that "[d]octors" in a Romanian town have asked that "officials" order all female nurses and physicians (!) to wear miniskirts, ostensibly because it would be more "elegant." We have to wonder if someone at Ananova has a little software reminder pop up every fall ("Time to post miniskirt nurse story!"). But assuming the story is real, the effect of the new proposal would be to enforce an image of female health workers as sex objects rather than professionals, which would have a disproportionately bad effect on nursing at a time of crisis.

Today's piece reports that "[d]octors" from the town of Iasi have written to "officials at the National House of Health Insurance" to say that the old uniforms are "out-of-date." Dr. Iulian Serban, reportedly the "head of the local authority," is quoted as follows: "I believe all the women nurses and doctors should wear mini skirts. It would be more elegant."

The new wrinkles here are that physicians are asking for the change--last year it was supposedly the patients--and that the change would apparently apply to female physicians as well. There is no mention of what male nurses, physicians, and hospital workers would be asked to wear in order to achieve the required "elegance." Although it's hard to imagine that female physicians would favor this policy (the piece somehow neglects to include comment from any female), we also note that the negative effect on nurses would likely be far worse, since nursing is still struggling with decades of naughty nurse stereotyping, and recent research suggests that the profession remains the subject of more sexual fantasies than any other.

While nurses may differ on the best way to achieve a professional look, based on this account it seems unlikely that this proposal was intended to advance the quality of care or the professional standing of nursing. Its effect, in combination with the chortling press coverage the proposal has attracted, would seem to be to present nurses as superficial female sexual objects, rather than serious professionals of either gender. That discourages decision-makers from allocating the resources nursing needs to resolve the global shortage, which is killing thousands.

But at least it's elegant.

See the article "Nurses in Romania to wear miniskirts," on the Ananova site, posted on September 29, 2006.


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