Are you Man Enough: Sentiments of a Male Nurse
James gets ready for the day. He has already eaten breakfast, read the newspaper and is now getting ready for work. With toned biceps and triceps, he gears up for the day. Today is going to be another long day, he tells himself as he puts on his uniform, checks his reflection one last time, kisses his wife goodbye and heads out the door.
You might expect him to head to an office or a construction site, but no, instead he is heading to the hospital to work. Yes, he is a health professional, a nurse to be exact, and a male.
Male versions of Florence Nightingale?
Gone were the days when the only nurses you see giving medications and providing nursing care are all females. Nowadays, you will see macho men wearing an all-white ensemble caring for the sick, and guess what? It’s not unusual anymore. However, there are still cases wherein a male nurse gets raised eyebrows from patients and folks. Some even get ridiculed, but there are also times when having a male nurse becomes handy. But, how about the nurses themselves? What do they feel? Let us ask these macho nurses how it is being in a profession which was at first dominated by females.
“Back when I was a student, I really had to work hard to prove to people, especially the patients that I, too, can become a nurse,” says Jay when asked how it was back when he was still in nursing school.
Being a male student comes with the additional challenge of facing society’s expectations since the profession is predominantly female. The males must work harder just to prove that they can be as competent as their female counterparts.
According to an article by Brandon Echtenkamp,“after being exposed to the nursing world and being able to observe men first-hand in the nursing role, I could see that gender made no difference.” There are times when males had to step back, and reconsider their options after learning all about the stigma of nursing as being a “woman’s career”. Many male nursing students tend to experience anxiety and stress when dealing with a patient and the folks, and at times, even their own family just because of this stigma. However, there are also those brave enough to pursue their passion and give nursing a try.
Throughout the years, the community has come to accept the invasion of the male population in the nursing profession. While there are those people who welcome male nurses with open arms, there are still those speculative and hesitant to give their approval. According to Echtenkamp, “during my mother/baby rotation where I was welcomed by patients as a nursing student, but subsequently turned down as a student caregiver upon the discovery of my male status.This was very frustrating to me as a nursing student eager to learn”
Male nurses do not always have the same opportunities as women in this field and because of this, they may miss out on scholarships created specifically for female students in a predominantly-female school or may encounter female patients who are uncomfortable having a male nurse, particularly in obstetrics/gynecology.
However, certain programs and strategies have been developed throughout the years by institutions to attract and retain male nursing student. Figures are estimated to be increasing based on male enrollment and retention at nursing schools.
Not just body guards and lifters
So, male nurses are expected to be physically stronger than their female peers and because of this, they are often asked to assist with lifting heavy patients. However, male nurses can do more than just that. Just because they possess a strong built doesn’t mean their tasks are limited to lifting patients and moving heavy equipment only, they too have undergone nursing school and everything a female nurse has encountered in nursing school.
“We, too can provide excellent care to our patients just like our female colleagues. We can even sympathize and empathize with our patients,” says Billy as he explains further on how males play an important role in patient care and that the fact that they have a caring and competent caregiver outweighs any gender issues.
This isn’t the ancient times anymore, a lot has been made possible throughout the years and nursing has evolved. We must all learn how to embrace these changes and it must be made known to the public about the invaluable contributions made by men in the nursing profession. We shouldn’t be gender biased, instead we must learn how to appreciate the unique knowledge, skills and abilities he has to offer his patients. And as for those males who want to enter the nursing profession, go ahead, prove the critics wrong. And if you’re brave enough to ignore the negative notions being thrown at you, and choose to focus more on becoming a quality nurse, then welcome aboard, it’s time to break the gender barrier in nursing.