First of all, congratulations on making it. Congratulations on graduating, and good luck on your national board exam. Not everyone makes it this far. Not everyone is cut out for this job. So welcome to an elite club, you’re one step closer to joining the ranks of one of the most trusted and largest health care professions in the nation. Over 3 million nurses and still growing. As a male entering our profession, I’m pretty sure you’ve figured out that we are the minority.
We only possess roughly 10% of the nursing populace, which I might add is encouraging. Seeing as that percentage as a whole has grown by 4% over the past decade (rough estimates). Not too shabby that every single year (over the past decade) more than 10,000 new men entered this profession.
I want to be the first to welcome you.
I also want to be the first to tell you to stop referring to yourself as a “male” nurse. From this point forward you are a nurse. Period. You are not a male nurse. You’re not special. Your degree wasn’t in male Nursing studies was it? If I’m not mistaken it probably just says Nursing.
I apologize for being obtuse or curt. I’ve been a nurse for over a decade and I’ve never been comfortable with the term male nurse. Nor have I been introduced as the male nurse. My colleagues don’t address me as a male Nurse Practitioner.
I want you to be an advocate for transparency and unity within our profession, don’t fall victim to the unneeded nomenclature. You and your female colleagues are in this together. No need to draw a line in the sand and form comparisons.
I think you get the point.
Do disparities exist? Yep. But don’t encourage such negativity. If you approach this profession as a Nurse, you’ll never go wrong. It’s about your patients, it’s not about your gender.
Let’s clear the air about some of the more popular misconceptions that are out there concerning this darn “male” nurse stereotype.
Wait, before we get to that. I almost forgot. You can’t use the term ‘murse‘ either. Seriously. Just don’t.
OK, here are some popular misconceptions out there and some suggested responses you could use.
Uhm, no. You don’t lose your “man card” just because you became a Nurse. Compassion and empathy are actually quite manly. (Just ask my wife, she’s also a Nurse. We met in Nursing School and were married 4 months after graduation.)
I actually CHOSE this career. I’m smart enough to have a Nursing degree. Not everyone who enters Nursing School actually makes it. Nursing school requires a didactic and collaborative learning environment that includes traditional classroom time coupled with physical anthropomorphic skill assessment.
Contrary to popular belief “How much ya bench?” was not on my state board exam. I actually did get hired for my knowledge and skill. I do however pitch in wherever I’m needed.
This last concept isn’t a stereotype, but more an urban legend.
The belief that (female) patients will refuse to be cared for by a “man”. Does it happen? Of course. Does it happen often? In my short decade in this profession it’s happened twice in my career.
If you ever have a patient request a re-assignment because of your gender, don’t get upset (like I did initially). Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about the patient. It’s about their care, not your skill or knowledge. Why would you force a patient into an uncomfortable scenario? Respect their wishes, and make sure they know you’re OK with it.
Remember, your new job will be just as stressful as the other newbies out there, regardless of your gender. I thought I’d finish with some random thoughts concerning those first 2 years of your career:
- Your feet will hurt just as bad after a long shift.
- You’ll have to chart just as much.
- The lives you save won’t care about your gender.
- Compassion is not gender specific.
- Take pride in the care you provide.
- Education and skill are sharpened by passion and aptitude, not by chromosomes.
- Yep, your first patient death will hurt just as bad.
- Work schedules are not separated by sexual category.
- Your heart will jump into your throat during your first code, fear doesn’t have a sexual preference.
- Your bladder will also grow ten times larger from a lack of taking a break, no matter if you sit or stand to do your business.
- This job will make you cry. Period. Just accept it.
- Some patients are just mean. I mean, really mean. Don’t take any of it personally.
- You will make a mistake. We all do. But demand you learn from it.
- This profession will make you laugh louder and smile longer than ever before. It’s a blessing.
- What you do affects lives. Don’t. EVER. Forget. That.
- You will cross paths and befriend some of the most intriguing and genuine people. Don’t take it for granted.
- Getting out on time is a rare thing. Get used to getting home late from work.
- You’re going to learn to push yourself past your limits.
- And you will feel a sense of fulfillment and joy that simply cannot be described until you walk the walk.
Best of luck to you young squire.
If these words have spoken to you in some way, be sure to connect with me. I’d love to hear from you.
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