Men in nursing: Treated equally or just a hired hand?

I thought I’d chat a bit on the whole gender inequality debate with male nurses (again). The topic surfaced somewhere in my world recently. The questions remain: Do we get treated differently simply because we’re men? More specifically, am I simply the hired hand? Are male nurses just needed for there muscles?

I always enjoy this urban legend because I bought into the concept early on in my career.¬† I bashfully admit, I don’t think it helped that I have a semi-athletic build.

As a brand-spankin new green-behind-the-ears nurse, when I was still learning everything there is to know about the basics, I got asked to help with the ‘lifting’ tasks and anything that required you “putting your back into it” quite often. I thought I was being treated as the dumb-jock, but I came to find out later it was just me being the new nurse.

It wasn’t that I was only needed for the manual labor, it was simply the progression of the learning curve. I was not very proficient at many skills right out of school. Cannulating IV’s were way down the road on my journey to being on my own. I mean, I was still trying to master the language let alone be in charge of sick patients. And contrary to popular belief there is a right and wrong way to ‘lift’ and ‘move’ your patients. So I was being introduced to my new world and career in a step-wise manner.

As time progressed, and my learning and skills progressed I was asked to do more than just help with a ‘lift’.

In my opinion, I am (was) treated equally for my knowledge, critical thinking skills and clinical expertise that has developed over the years. I however personally feel that men and women cannot be completely “equal” in the work place perse’, when it comes to physically laboring tasks.

Let me be clear. It’s not an intentional or bigoted approach to the task, it’s just simple physiology. All things being relatively equal, men are stronger than women. It’s not that men are better or worse than women, it’s just physiology. In that respect, me being the ‘guy’ on the floor, I still do (did) get asked to help more than most of my female co-workes for team-lifts, and patient care that requires a degree of physical labor.

The truth of the matter is, when having to turn, lift or transfer a patient who can weigh in excess of 500lbs some times, you’ll always choose a team member who is strong, or at least stronger than others. And in most cases, men are stronger than women.

No bias, or inequality, just simply exercising safe work practices.

P.S. I know I sound like a broken record, but I have to say it once again. I REALLY hate the connotation ‘Male Nurse’. It’s almost as intelligent as saying ‘Female Doctor’. Grr.

Image Source: Deviant Art