I’m a Male Nurse – So What?

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  1. Random_Stranger says:

    Thanks for sharing. Just curious, have you ever found that patients perceive you differently than they might perceive a female nurse? Do those perceptions impact your ability to do your job, for better or worse.

  2. I find it interesting to read how it feels for a man to feel the sexist gaze of others – not through objectification -as sexism is traditionally discussed – but because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of his profession. Great piece Brett – I’m truly inspired. You so clearly summarised why nurses deserve more credit than they get – watching a child die is a heavy burden and one you can’t walk away from.

  3. Well I don’t know how it is in the US…but here in germany in the many hospitals I was as a patient over the years the nurses were always happy to see a male nurse.Since most of the nurses I got to know have problems with their backs in one or another way they were really glad that there was a guy that could help with the heavy lifting.Although male nurses are also kinda rare here…at least from what I got to know o.o Maybe when I get to see the parts of the hospital for the adults I’ll get to see more.I think if not for my illness I might as well work as a male nurse,since I don’t really have a problem with seeing people die.I can be very empathic but for example when I see starving children on tv or something I usually feel next to nothing.Might be different when you see something like that in reality…but I still think I got kind of a high defense against that^^So yeah…in summary more male nurses would actually be really helpful :) Although what would be more helpful would be if the nurses we already have would receive better payment for their jobs.I mean for most people dealing with dying people might very well leave more or less deep emotional scars and I also read about people that needed to consult a psychologist in order to deal with them.That the 1 side of the medal…the other side is the physical stress.Like those back problems I mentioned.I can imagine that quite a lot of nurses might need treatment for those once they get too old for their job.It’d be kinda stupid if the nurses would suffer from similar fates than the old people they sometimes watch over.Sometimes because in a hospital there are of course more problems than old people^^.
    Oh and sorry if there are some mistakes in my comment…I don’t think so but if there are it’s because english is still a secondary language for me^^

  4. Mark R. Brand says:

    Great article, man. I was a medical assistant for about seven years and I got asked the “Why didn’t you just become a doctor?” question about a jillion times. People don’t really get how team-based medicine is on an organizational level. It’s like asking your starting point guard why he didn’t just go ahead and buy himself an entire basketball team to coach. To respond to one of the other commenters above: I frequently found initial skepticism because I was a guy, but I tried to make a good impression by being at least (if not more) as gentle, friendly, and patient-focused as my female coworkers. I don’t know if that’s the classic “got to be better than your competition to be seen as equal” discrimination phenomenon in play, but it worked for me, and I rarely had any trouble maintaining my patients’ trust and respect after they met me the first time.

  5. SidneyAnne Stine says:

    Good for you Brett! First off, if other people have those hang ups, they are exactly that – THEIR hangups! I think it is great and I also think the profession would benefit greatly from more males. Many retired cops and fireman become nurses as “second careers”. Additionallly, I think the type of work you’ve chosen to do is amazing! Caring for others and helping people is a beautiful and respected life choice – regardless of gender!

  6. Why hasn’t the nursing profession changed it’s name to something with less gendered baggage? The way secretaries became “administrative professionals,” for example. We have male “admins” in my workplace and it seems a lot less strange than a “male secretary”.

  7. Salvice says:

    Speaking from experience, my encounters with male nurses have been overwhelmingly positive. Keep at it, and know that there are people who recognize you for your talent and ability before they think about your biological sex. They know the pressures that you face, and are cheering for you silently.

    Most recently when I was getting stitches in my finger and a tetanus shot, the (male) nurse stuck around to watch over the procedure. When I told him that I didn’t want to frighten my pops with a phone call discussing my emergency room visit, he responded, “Oh, but we’re dads. We’re supposed to worry about our kids. I don’t think we really ever stop.” He will be remembered fondly.

    Having the right tools to heal the body and the right words to comfort the soul is a gift. Keep on sharing it.

  8. It was good to hear from another male nurse.

    One of the greatest ironies of my life was that I read books about military strategies because I was trying to wrap my mind around the Vietnam War. But I used the tactics I had learned to bring mental patients that were hurting themselves and others under control.

    Because I worked a set of the same counties I got a reputation quickly for not having a problem with bodies. In three years I took care of twenty-five people that had passed. In talking to female nurses some are amaazed because they have worked for as many as fifteen years and never even seen a body much less taken care of one.

    Your taking about children dying reminded me of caring for teenagers that are complaining about having to eat charcoal after a meal of Tylenol pills in a sucide attempt. You can’t deal with things like those and not be effected.

    You make me a little jealous because I would really like to be back in the field again. But I’m rapidly approaching 61 so I doubt I’ll be making any more memories. God speed and don’t let’em get to you’uns!

  9. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I was a licensed practical nurse from the early 70s until I got my masters in 1982. I always worked in psych, which changed from being mainly male nursing staff in 1970 to being mainly female in the 80s and beyond. I was in an RN program in the mid 70s, but I found the instructors pretty hard to deal with, so I hopped off. Because they were medical-surgical types, and I was a psych type, there was incompatibility. I loved psych nursing, and they loved men, even when they were exiting the field. I did feel that the ADRN program I was in was biased against heterosexual men (believe it or not.) I had done six years in the Army, and the program was worse than basic training as far as I was concerned.

    I later got a PhD and became a medical sociologist and professor doing research on organizations and finance in health care. Unfortunately, nurses do eat their young sometimes…

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