Nurse: A man playing in a woman’s world..

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It’s no secret. The field of nursing is a female-dominated profession. Statistics don’t lie. The last time I checked, men make up about 7% of the combined nursing work force. That number has only risen about 1% over the past decade. I’m not one to discuss the line drawn in the sand when we talk about ‘male’ nurses versus ‘female’ nurses, but I at least acknowledge its existence.

In my opinion, a nurse is a nurse, gender is of course a biological conclusion, but it does not define us.

Why aren’t more men in nursing?

Hmm..

I have to admit. Up until I entered this profession, I followed the majority. I too thought nursing is only for women. It wasn’t a bigoted or biased thought process, it was just all that I knew. I had no idea what I was missing. Since I’m already a nurse, I have a good idea of what we do, and how it differs for a man. There are a ton of barriers and challenges men will face when making the choice to either pursue our career or to continue on in our career. If I had to choose two, it would be social misinformation and negative stereotyping.

Social misinformation is mostly related to population age and/or societal rearing.

“You’re a nurse? Why didn’t you become a doctor?”

Many have been ‘taught’ Men = doctor and Woman = nurse. It was something that was just ‘assumed’ during the first half of the century. I believe it’s not a person being bigoted, it’s just how the world was ‘made’ for them. And since the surge of men in this female-dominant profession, they’ve had a difficult time adjusting. It’s not that they don’t agree, they just don’t have a good understanding. I’m pretty sure Women who have pursued/pursuing a medical degree have experienced the same sort of disconnect.

Negative stereotyping stems from the social misinformation. It’s assumed that if you are a man, you should be a doctor. If you are a man that is a nurse, than of course something is wrong with YOU, not the profession. Apparently society wants to revoke your ‘man-card’ for working in a female-dominant profession. You MUST have female tendencies in order to work as a nurse, right?! You can’t be manly and be a nurse, can you?
I guess I have a problem with my manhood being defined by my career choice. The last time I checked being a ‘man’ has so much more to do with my worth to my family, my friends and of course my country. I am defined by my actions, not by what you think my actions should be.
While being ‘manly’ is popularly termed alongside ‘strength’ and ‘braun’, I for one think the manliest of men exude their strength from something more than just their muscles.

Oh, and not that it matters, but I’m married to a beautiful woman who just so happens to be a nurse. How does that make me look now?

 

Image Source: Google

Refusing the care of a male nurse

 

I don’t want a male nurse taking care of me

This is always a hot debate out there in the circle of the nursing field (career). Do male nurses get ‘refused’ a lot from patients? Meaning, do patients refuse to be cared for by a male nurse, simply because we are men?

For some strange reason this topic seems to blur together with some of the other ‘male nurse myths’ out there. The two that come to mind are the ‘doctor = male & nurse = female’ myth and the ‘men don’t have the compassion to be a nurse’ myth.

I’m not even gonna try and talk about those two myths, they are so far ‘out there’ that they aren’t worth addressing.

I do however love to shed a little bit of light on the ‘refusal’ topic.

Here are some facts. Yes, I have been refused by patients on a handful of occasions. Yes, I have been refused by patients because I was of the male gender. Did I get offended, upset or angry? Only the very first time.

The very first time I was ‘refused’ I had only been an RN for less than 6 months. I think I had been off orientation in the ICU maybe a month or two (can’t quite remember). It was a NOC shift. I honestly cannot remember why this patient was even admitted to the ICU, what I do know is that her medical illness is not the reason why I was refused.

It was her comfort level.

Not her comfort in my abilities, her comfort in feeling vulnerable. She was not comfortable sharing or exposing her personal challenges with me. I won’t expand on those topics, but lets just say she was more comfortable having a fellow female handle her challenges.

It wasn’t the charge nurse that told me. It wasn’t the nursing supervisor that told me. It was the patient who told me. When I introduced myself, and informed her I would be taking care of her, she politely asked if she could have a woman instead of a man as her nurse.

She wasn’t rude. She wasn’t offensive. She was honest.

I walked out of the room feeling dejected and honestly quite pissed off? I relayed this to my charge nurse who simply asked me one question. “How would you feel if the roles were reversed? How would you feel having a female nurse care for you with those type of challenges”?

It was like a slap in the face.

I realized at that moment how selfish I was being, and that I wasn’t doing a very good job at being her advocate. I was too busy thinking about myself.

I walked back into the room and kindly explained that she would have a new nurse assigned to her care for the evening per her request. I bashfully walked out of the room and my attitude toward my patients was forever changed.

Sure there have been instances since then that have been offensive, degrading and down right ignorant. Some of these patients changed their mind and accepted me as their nurse, while others have not.

When I encounter this type of challenge in my practice, ever since that day, I have always asked myself how would I feel? If the opportunity presents itself, I always try to ask and investigate the details of their ‘refusal’. I find it a chance to educate them on how male and female nurses have no differences when providing the care they need. I try to understand their comfort level and do my best to lessen or even eliminate their anxiety. What I don’t ever try to do is influence or convince them that they are wrong.

It’s their care, not mine. It’s their choice, not mine. I’m just glad they felt comfortable enough to be honest about their feelings instead of being uncomfortable or even afraid of the nursing care they would receive.

In the end, we are their advocate. Even if that means stepping aside.

I don’t want a male nurse taking care of me | Scrubs Magazine

Murses?!

This was a Scrubs Magazine post in response to something I viewed on the internet. I more than likely over-reacted and over-analyzed this one, but I am who I am. What do you think?

The internet is an amazing animal. The amount of information that is at your fingertips is mind-boggling. But, there in lies the problem. The information is so vast and so abundant that sometimes, maybe the information isn’t all that accurate. Or maybe the information is advertising one thing, but saying another.

Infographics are the latest craze. They truly encapsulate the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. What better way to relay and share information that with a graphic representation? We here at Scrubs have used them a couple times here. I think they can be quite useful if used appropriately.

-Begin rant-

Such is not the case with this latest infographic about male nursing, or as the infographic kindly points out, murses. This latest infographic flirts between positive promotion and myth perpetuation. Be careful out there folks, the devil really is in the details.

I was informed of this wonderful piece of work by a colleague. After I picked up my jaw off the floor I felt compelled to share my thoughts with my fellow nurse and scrubs magazine readers. In one fail swoop it de-moralized and feminized the male nurse without even batting an eyelash (pun intended).

Things to note:

Bottom of infographic: Long live the Murse

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  • First of all, I don’t know a fellow male nurse who actually uses (let alone speak it) this word (murse) in their vocabulary.
  • And when did we become trivial and laughable?
  • The only time the word murse has ever been used was to poke fun or use in sarcasm.
  • And the picture… Hmm.. so are we gonna get a catchy name like ‘rosie the riveter’? Maybe ‘manny the murse’ huh?

A great job for dudes

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  • These stats can be applied to ALL nurses, not just the male gendered ones folks. Nice try.

Icons of male nursing

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  • Gaylord Focker being the most iconic male nurse of our generation??? By whose standard???????
  • And is the quote from his movies supposed to support or make fun of male nurses (the nipple comment)? I can’t quite figure that one out? – seems to me they have a funny way of showing support?

Assets of a male nurse

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  • Wow! 1 single asset??! Compared to 4 separate pictures for the trials of being a male nurse?
  • So our only asset is big muscles HUH???

Trials of a male nurse
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  • The only one that has any merit of truth is the maternity ward – and that’s debatable since I know many men who work as nurses in OB.
  • The rest are buying into all the popular myths and urban legends out there. Once again are they trying to help men in nursing? Or make fun of them here?

The first picture of the infographic

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  • So we all wear Hawaiian shirts?? What is up with the lavender pants?? Hmm.. both of these outfit choices lead me in the ‘gay’ direction- or is it just me? Can you say subliminal messages? What happened to all nurses wearing white?
  • Well defined compensatory muscles? Give me a break. Did you really have to put that comment in there?
  • The cruel and unfair treatment of murses, as they prefer to be called???? Who the heck made that claim?
  • The incalculable contribution to the medical field? How about the nursing field maybe?

The negativity this infographic resonates is accidental and on purpose in my humble opinion. Better yet, I doubt a single male nurse (*cough* cough* – sorry murse) was part of making this.

I’m probably jumping to conclusions. I’m probably blowing this out of proportion. I can admit that. What I can’t and won’t admit to is that this piece of work is a great resource for men in nursing.

-End rant-

Photo credit: http://www.onlinenursingschools.com/male-nursing/

Men in nursing do not prefer to be called ‘Murses’ | Scrubs Magazine