The profession of nursing is starting to see a small surge in the number of men not only interested in nursing now, but the number of current registered nurses who are male is also increasing.
I thought it only appropriate to reach out to all those men out there who are taking the greatest leap of there life and give them some introductory basics on how to survive this wonderful ride of a career we call nursing.
- You are the minority. Get used to it.
It’s a woman’s world out there guys. We are the minority. Men only make up (approximately) 6.2% of the nursing workforce. Be sure to understand the culture and the atmosphere before you decide to make it your own. In my experience, you aren’t really accepted as a ‘nurse’ until you become one of the ‘girls.’ And trust me when I say this, in the world of nursing – you want to be part of that. In the same breath, while we are the minority, we are not inferior.
- Men land on common ground
It’s true. Men are adrenaline junkies. Most men who dare take the challenge to be a nurse seem to gravitate towards the higher acuity and faster paced atmosphere. Most men settle in the critical care or emergency room world. They not only take on this experience but most will build upon it to further their education as an advanced practice nurse. You may have heard of Nurse Anesthetists, Acute Care Nurse Practitioners, and Flight Nurses. Don’t get me wrong, in all those listed roles we men are still the minority, but these are definitely popular choices.
- We nurses are all created equal
Male or female, we all receive the same basic education and training. It’s just that simple. Just because you are a man does not make you any better (or worse) when receiving your basic education. The last time I checked gender is not a prerequisite for patient advocacy.
- Male doctor posers
Yes, most patients will initially mistake you for a doctor. It’s not your fault, it’s that society brainwashing mentality of genderizing roles. The public thinks men = doctors and females = nurses. The majority of our geriatric patients have a very difficult time grasping this concept sometimes. Let me be clear, any nurse worth their weight in water won’t even stutter their step when confronted with this social misconception. The care you deliver will never be forgotten, but your gender will.
- Bodybuilder wannabees
Most of your female colleagues will single you out for the heavy lifting and more laborious responsibilities. Suck it up and get over it. The reality is men in most cases are stronger than women (not that there aren’t exceptions to this rule), so be the ‘bigger’ person and lend the hand they need. This does not say anything about your worth as a co-worker or nurse. Your female colleague is being smart and efficient by recruiting the help that is needed. Just be sure you become valued for your contribution as a professional, not just a pair of broad shoulders.
- Stereotypes shmereotypes
Don’t listen to anything anyone has to say about being a man in a woman’s world, or being a male nurse means you’re gay, or that you chose nursing because you flunked out of medical school. In the end, your actions and your reactions will define you. I always love the question, “Oh, so you’re a male nurse?”
My humble yet ear-to-ear grin response is always, “No. I’m a nurse.”
Set your own standards, play nice in the sandbox, don’t be bullied into any way of thinking or practicing and by all means remember you are not alone.
Nursing is the greatest profession out there. You are going to get out of nursing what you put into it. Good luck out there!