In Visible Bodies: Minority Women, Nurses, Time, and the New Economy of Care

Abstract

Health care reform in Canadian hospitals has resulted in increased workloads and bureaucratization of patient care contributing to the development of a new economy of care. Interviews with nurses and visible (non-white) minority women who have given birth in institutions undergoing health care reform revealed that nurses felt compelled to avoid interactions with patients deemed too costly in terms of time. Overwhelmingly, these patients were members of culturally marginalized populations whose bodies were read by nurses as potentially problematic and time consuming. As their calls for assistance go unanswered, visible minority women complained of feeling invisible. Taken in context of historical and contemporary interethnic relations, these women regarded such avoidance patterns as evidence of racism. Obstetrical nurses, too, understood that the new economy of care wrought by health care restructuring has altered nursing practice and patient care to the detriment of minority women.