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Angry male nurse myth debunked

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This one always humors me. Do I get angry because someone called me a ‘male nurse’?

Some of the other versions of this story are when patients ask me, “How long have you been a male nurse?”, or “How bad is it being a male nurse?”. It honestly has everything to do with the tone of their voice when asking the question that usually dictates my response. In most cases I find a comical way to put them in my shoes.

I answer with, “How long have you been a male/female patient?”, or “How bad is it being a male/female patient?”. If the question comes from a health care professional I’ll re-word my rebuttal so that it involves their given area of work or profession. I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time a fellow health care professional asked me a question related to my gender?

I think it’s a personal perception and preference. Why in the world would a fellow male nurse get angry at these questions? I mean we are nurses…and uhh..we are of the male persuasion. So why get mad? In most cases I don’t even think the person asking the questions considers them offensive. They are just curious about you being the obvious minority in a very female dominant profession – not to mention the stereotypes that are out there.

We probably could also categorize or even stereotype the individuals who ask these questions if we really wanted to – but why? Once again, in most cases it’s just being uninformed, unaware and simply not accustomed to a man delivering nursing care. There is no right or wrong there, it just simply is.

For me personally, my response and outlook has changed from a defensive to offensive strategy. When I first started in this great profession I sometimes would stumble over my words when these questions were posed. I was afraid of choosing the wrong answer, or worse yet, I was afraid of offending my patient (or their family). The ultimate tragedy would have been to cause some undue tension or stress between my patient and I while delivering my care, so I walked on egg shells for that first year or so.

Since then I have developed the attitude that when posed these type of questions I consider it my chance to educate and inform the inquisitor (nope, there was no significant incident that changed me). Not only do I get to explain the concept of gender invisibility, but I get to knock down more walls of discretion and doubt about the need and or value of having men in nursing!

I actually get a lil’ excited deep inside, because the person asking the question is giving me the chance to change one more way of thinking. Male nurses, while by sheer numbers may look like we are the minority, function in the realm of nursing as an equal. We laugh, we cry and we save lives just like the rest of our colleagues who happened to be women. Our touch is just as gentle, we care just as deeply, and we work just as hard to advocate for them.

Just remember, anger or resentment towards another’s opinion or interpretation will only shorten your lifespan. Not only is it counter productive to your day, but it retracts from the very thing we strive to do every day of our profession. Have fun out there guys!

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9 Responses to Angry male nurse myth debunked

  1. Caleb

    I’ve been an LPN for 7 yrs and have experienced virtually nothing related to being stereotyped for being a male nurse. I usually worked with one or more men who were either fellow nurses or in some other branch of healthcare. I don’t see any reason for anger over such questions. Its just people wanting to know how a man feels in a traditionally female dominated profession.

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Caleb Thanks for sharing! You are absolutely right.

  3. Hey Sean, you wrote this post without mentioning the g-word. I am very impressed.

  4. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ TorontoEmerg why thank you.. I’m tryin’.

  5. ER-Murse

    I correct them, and say the proper term is Murse. 😉

  6. Scott

    Thank you for the article. Very intelligent and well-written!

  7. Rik

    To the question, “are you a male nurse? My answer is “No I take care of woman too”. If the patient fails to get the humor, I will explain it further. Most patients think nurses are great so why make them think any different.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @ Rik I like your way of thinking.. I may have to use that one! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Al Brookins

    I like your humor. My reply to the Male Nurse question / statement used to be that I don’t work for the postal service and didn’t realize that they employed nurses (male=mail) 