Health Is Social

Infusing Social Media into Healthcare

Love Affair with a Hot Nurse

God she was tight. The back of her knee, the creases of her popliteal, smoothed white under the grip of stockings. Demure frame, gold-splashed green eyes, kissable nape.

When she prepped the IV, the skin of her wrist felt delicate on the back of my hand – her eyes in mine as she comforted. How could I resist such corruptible innocence? You too would have fallen for her.

I’d meet her in a dream, close my eyes and then lose my face, fingers, palms in her hair.

I was in love and lost – entranced in love-affair.

I can’t get her out of my head, and every time I think of a nurse, I think of her.


I hope you realize the voice above isn’t me speaking – bits of me are there, but they’ve been infused into the voices of stereotypes. I wish to make a point visceral.

It’s amazing what an image can do to a civilization. (Hat-tip to @Onlinenursing for the link that got me going on this post.)

Maybe I’m biased, because I’m an RN (albeit a different breed), but I think Nursing is one of the most critical professions in the world. Yes, everything is critical – but Nursing is an irreplaceable and diverse field.

So how is it that such a profession remains tainted by a fantasy?  How is that the image of the “hot nurse” hangs like a ghost on Nursing?

Granted, times have changed. But our culture still doesn’t fully understand what nurses do. Even when describing a nurse who is male, he is referred to as a “male nurse”. Dude’s a nurse, man.

My hypothesis is rather simple: modern nursing was born in a female-dominated profession within a male-dominated society. That’s one heck of a pressure-cooker!

Modern medicine, meanwhile, was a male-dominated profession within a male-dominated society.

Thus, we had the perfect storm of power dynamics and cultural stereo-typecasting.

Vestigial elements of those social imbalances remain. They may be tapering off, but they stand as metaphor for the proverbial time-warp in which certain parts of Nursing are stuck.

It’s not just the sexualized image of the submissive girl next door. It’s the idea that nursing is a secondary function, an easily-replaceable cog in the irreplaceable machine of Healthcare.

This seduction has done much damage to our own health. It’s OK to fantasize all you want. But when the psychology of the fantasy infiltrates its way into perception and behavior, you have a true sickness plaguing society.


I wish Healthcare communicators would help out here.

Do pro bono work or something. Don’t any of you Healthcare PR “pros” have connections in Hollywood? 😉

Can you challenge yourselves to help educate the public about nursing – and, please!, spare the over-the-top images of nurses smiling like happy idiots and being all “caring”? Care is deep and terrible – a war against entropy.

Show the rough stuff! – show the intelligence, the grit, the stress, the fall-downs & getups, the kickass, the true hotness. Show the nursing that happens away from the bedside – the bewildering spectrum of this hard endeavor. Reveal the hidden.

How hot would that make you look? Just sayin’.

It’s a shame. This isn’t really about the “image of nursing”. No, this is about the dignity of civilization.

There should be a love affair here. A love of understanding and science and art.

The reality of nurses isn’t the fantasy I described above.

The reality of nurses (the good ones) is this: they are hot, not in how they look but in what they do for the world.

We should have affairs with these hot nurses – not the sick seductive kind. We need the wholesome affair.

The one which ensures babies are born safely; children have fun; adults enjoy happy lives; and the dying break from this world into dignity.

For every time you think of a nurse, you should think of how wonderful it is to be alive and what nurses have to do with that.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocialLoving Newsletter


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  • Did you catch the tv show Boston Medical when it was on last spring or summer? They filmed actual hospital situations but followed the same professionals at a few different hospitals in Boston. Kind of gave the real world look at the inside of a hospital (albeit selectively presented).
    My favorite nurse scene was in Grey’s Anatomy a little while back where a 12-year male nurse gave a young female intern a piece of his mind, refusing to take her orders (and thereby saving a patient). That was fictional, but powerful.
    So Hollywood is responding in their own fashion.

    • Phil Baumann

      Hi Lisa,

      Yes, Hollywood has been slowly getting there. But there are other avenues where better messages can spread.

      That’s why I reached out to the Healthcare communications/marketing community (I’ve gotten 1 unsubscribe from the Newsletter with the post – sigh 😉

      In the end, though, it may have to be nurses starting their own media campaigns (which are possible now with the Web).


  • Very well done. The images of nurses is definitely something that’s ingrained in society.

    I must admit that my wife and I still talk about the labor and delivery nurses we had with our children. They were definitely an important part of the experience (some good and some not so good). Either way, lots of great stories and memories with them.

  • Deb, RN

    My theory of how the “hot nurse” thing originated is simple:
    Some guy(s) who… for whatever reason… had/has no up-close and extended access to women, felt it while being cared for by one (…or, the idea of the very real possibility of being in such a position, especially while he’s nude).

    In other words, it’s the only way a womanless guy can simulate being cared for by a woman that’s not a relative.

    • Phil Baumann

      Hi Deb

      I think that’s definitely happened – but I’d say that’s just one of many reasons.

      Often in war – say WWI or WWI, young soldiers would get mangled – perhaps near death – and female nurses were they’re only connection to the “motherly” touch so-to-speak. In that sense, it’s not as weird since it wasn’t really a sexual matter as much of intimacy at the end of life.

      It’s definitely an interesting issue of where it all originated.


  • History is filled with wars and wounded soldiers being cared for by nurses. If I was a soldier, wounded and lying in a hospital without my partner/wife/girlfirend/boyfriend – I would probably start fantasizing about the only person who would come to my bedside every day.

    ‘Hot’ in the current definition is merely an evolution from the single cell version (implicitly sexualised) to todays Pamela Lee Anderson version (explicitly sexualised).

    • Phil Baumann

      Hi Kishan –

      Yes, in war (as I said to Deb RN above) nurses were the only connection young men had to something intimately human.

      But there are probably other reasons why it evolved and has stuck.

      The question now is: how to re-humanize.

  • I am alive today because of nurses.

  • kgapo

    I will always remember the Canadian nurse in the maternity recovery at Montreal’s Royal Victoria who comforted me for hours (had a very long recovery..) , took care of me, as a mother or sister would do and followed my recovery mumbling in three or four different languages… and also comforted my husband waiting outside. She is a very special person to me even if I have never met her afterwards. As also is the nurse in the maternity ward who counselled me before leaving hospital and insisted on carrying the baby till our car, where she handed me over the baby with a lot or warm wishes.

  • jeannieologist

    In all factuality,. “hot nurses” are indeed hired over middle-aged or less attraactive peers. Labor studies have shown this, and I recall a peice last summer on NPR about how “more attractive people get the best jobs”. It is indeed evolutionary. In this profesison, however, it is, like Phil says, taken to the extreme. It’s a primordial urge to be attracted to what heals you… Throw in the fact that patients are less likely to complain about you if you are drop dead gorgeous compared to an “average looking nurse”…speculation but prolly true.