A hospital in Maine has nine of their nurses all pregnant at the same time. So, Yay! for diversity and men taking on traditionally women’s jobs then. Or, perhaps, we could mull over the statistical unlikeliness of this. The answer to which is that it’s obviously unusual at any one hospital. But it’s going to happen often enough when we consider the number of hospitals, number of nurses, there are out there.
That’s just how large numbers work:
Nine nurses who work in the labor and delivery unit of a Maine hospital are expecting babies of their own in the next few months. The women are all due to give birth between April and July, according to a Facebook post from Maine Medical Center. The post features all but one of the pregnant nurses showing off their baby bumps and holding cards with their due dates. “It’s really nice coming to work and seeing other people who are just as pregnant and watching their bellies pop and just talking about these experiences that we are going through together,” nurse Amanda Spear told WMTW.
Yes, that’s all super and all that. But how likely is it? Not at just the one hospital, but at any one of them?
Well, actually, we can try at just this one:
There are 80 registered nurses currently working in the labor and delivery unit, according to News Center Maine.
OK, a few assumptions. The average American woman has two children these days, around and about. They’ll be pregnant for 9 months each time but let’s make it 6 months. Many don’t know they’re pregnant until well into the first trimester after all. We’ll also assume that a working career on the wards is 30 years. Why not, we’ve got to assume something.
So, each nurse will have 2 times 6 months pregnancies over 30 years. Or will spend 1/30 th of their working life being pregnant. Out of 80 we’d thus expect near three to be pregnant at any one time. Having 9 is only a couple of standard deviations away – we’ll leave how many as an exercise for the reader.
Now let us think about the nation. There are 6,000 odd hospitals out there. If all are this sort of size – with 2.2 million nurses why not just assume that – we’d be getting close to insisting not that it’s just odds on that one hospital will have 9 pregnant nurses at any one time but that it will be virtually certain that one will.
Well, no, obviously I’m not going to do the actual math. This is journalism and we don’t do numbers here as every newspaper in the country proves every day. Just take my word for it. For any specific hospital this is a fun bit of noteworthiness. For the entire population of hospitals it’s normal for it to be happening at least somewhere at any one time.