Time for a name change

iStockphoto + Scrubs

I think if ‘nurses’ were called something else we would have a lot more male ‘nurses’ in the world. I prefer to say that I am an RN for a couple reasons. One, it lets others know that I am a professional REGISTERED NURSE and two, it takes the dreaded ‘nurse’ out of the equation.

So many times people say they are a nurse and then when you get down to the heart of the matter they are really a secretary at a doctor’s office or something. Not to discount secretaries at doctor’s offices but you can see how that is just a smidge misleading.

But I digress.

Some of the BEST and MOST WONDERFUL RNs out there are males. They bring a different outlook, point of view, strength and dignity to the profession. Plus, it is super awesome to have them around when you need help lifting someone heavy. HA HA! :) How’s that for a stereotype?

I feel like there are so many qualified and interested males who get turned off from being an RN because they don’t want to go around calling themselves a ‘nurse’. I suggest that we should change the name to something more gender neutral…what do you think? Any ideas? Should we start a Facebook campaign? March on Washington? Make a plastic bracelet to show our solidarity? Ideas people ideas, let’s get this gender revolution party started.

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Rebekah Child

Rebekah Child attended the University of Southern California for her bachelor's in nursing and decided to brave the academic waters and return for her master's in nursing education, graduating in 2003 from Mount St. Mary's. Rebekah has also taught nursing clinical and theory at numerous Southern California nursing schools and has been an emergency nurse since 2002. She is currently one of the clinical educators for an emergency department in Southern California and a student (again!) in the doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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11 Responses to Time for a name change

  1. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    I used to get caught up in the nomenclature. But then I wonder why it matters? Those of us who are in the profession know the difference between what the public thinks they know, and what really is.
    It’s a daunting task, especially when we represent just 6% of the profession. Whew..

  2. Amy Bozeman Scrubs Blogger

    Yup, we need more guys in our profession. I like being an “RN” as well!

  3. Craig, LPN

    People ask me what I do for a living and i say I am a nurse. I’m pretty darn proud of my profession and my education, and I don’t see why we really need to change what we are called. Some people are just going to be ignorant, and as far as I know there aren’t many nursing interventions to prevent or treat that (except for an ice water enema.. that tends to change attitudes quickly, or so i’m told 😉 )

  4. LCarney

    I am a male LPN, working on my RN pre requisites. It seems to be a common attitude among RNs, that LPNs are not true nurses. I would put my nursing skills, knowledge and foremost, compassion against most RNs I have encountered any day.

  5. Peter, RN

    I worked with an LPN at a cardiac unit once. She was very knowledgeable about the whole cardiac disease pathology. It turned out that she was a medical doctor in Bulgaria and was working on her USMLE for the time being. Never underestimate LPNs :)

  6. I resent the apparent “need” to change the nomenclature of an entire wonderful profession because a few male egos are at stake. If RN needs to be changed to something more masculine so more “men” will enter the field, then when will we change the words for professions like “Fire Men”, “Police Men”, “Camera Men”, “Doctor” etc. so more WOMEN will enter those fields?
    Whenever a man enters a patient room, regardless of how many women are present dressed in exactly the same clothing, patients tend to refer to the male as a “Doctor” even if he is the housekeeper and doesn’t speak English. (In NO WAY am I putting down the Housekeeping PROFESSION!!!! Yes–profession. We NEED you!)
    Whether you played with dollies or trucks as a tyke, grow up, address the stereotype and go into whatever noble profession you desire, BUT the entire world does NOT need to change just to suit your testosterone overdose!

  7. Char

    How about going back to knight Hospitaller-who wouldn’t like that? 😛

    I agree it’s good to have more men in the profession, but I’m not sure changing the terminology would do that. Here “nurse” is a term of respect. As noted by others, RNs will tell people “I’m a nurse” while LPNs say “I’m an LPN”. There’s a sense of power and ownership with that word, and RNs have traditionally tried to block LPNs from using it.

    As to Elaine’s post-we already HAVE changed policeman and fireman to police officer and fire fighter for precisely the reason stated-so women would feel comfortable in those fields. Change isn’t always bad, but I do think it should be justified.

  8. Haley

    What about the concept of a “Nursician”

  9. Chris

    Actually, I did some investigative research on the term “nurse” and I also interviewed (quite non-scientifically) a number of adolescent boys to determine why they might (or might not) consider nursing as a chosen profession. It turns out, the name “nurse” is, in fact, a deterrent. There is no doubt that diversity in any profession is a good thing. Its about time we (female RNs) concede that this means more male RNs are needed. If this profession had been dominated by men for years (as the medical profession was), then we would have already seen changes made to encourage more gender balance. Because nurses are present in so many areas at so many levels we need a new name that better represents what we are, anyway. I personally believe that ALL nurses advocate for their clients – whether its caring for patients in the ICU, managing a nursing home, teaching students, or conducting research. Ultimately we advocate for the health and safety of individuals and communities. How about a name like “Registered Health Advocate (RHA)” ? (that’s my 2 cents)

  10. Kyle

    Im very confused when I tell people ”I want to be a nurse”. They give me an odd look or even laugh at the word ‘nurse’. I have reseached a lot about medical health science jobs and I believe that what a nurse can do and the flexibility they have makes nurses one of the best jobs in that field. Im confused because I think being a male nurse would be awsome; however, ‘other people’ ridicule the idea of a male nurse (RN). Why do some people (men) ridicule the idea of being male nurses?

  11. Granny RN RN

    Unfortunately we as a Species have not evolved past associating certain of the 2 sexes with certain professions. After all, it is only in the last few decades that females have become Doctors, Lawyers, Fighter Pilots, Astronauts, etc. in the United States. Most of the Baby Boomer generation was raised to believe that ‘boys are doctors and girls are nurses’ even though that has not been the case in the rest of the world.
    We have already juggled calling ‘a Rose by any other name’ only to have our patients become increasingly confused about who does what in healthcare.
    How many of us ASK if our doctors’ office ‘nurse’ is REALLY a nurse? Or is this person a technician or high school grad with on the job training?
    Give me the Real Thing!