Advice for male nursing students FROM male nurses

flickr | COM SALUD
flickr | COM SALUD

Gentlemen, this one’s for you. 

Below, Kati Kleber (aka Nurse EyeRoll) offers a roundup of insight and advice from a handful of nurse buddies who are not women. And we’ve gotta say, there’s some pretty good stuff in here:

Recently, a male nursing student, via Tumblr, asked if I had any advice for him as he begins clinicals this winter in a predominantly female field.

Now, I am not a male nurse. Therefore, I asked some male nurses if they had any insight on this. Below are some points of enlightenment from one of my Twitter buddies, Ryan Mitchell (@rymitch18). I added my own points of enlightenment after his (which are basically just me agreeing with him).

“Do not sleep with classmates or coworkers…if things don’t work out (they almost certainly won’t), everything gets awkward. I didn’t, but classmates did. I’ll admit it was fun to watch their misery.” Um, YES. Agreed. I’ve seen it. It’s hilarious to observe…but I imagine it’s super awkward and unnecessarily stressful. Plus, you don’t want to worry about dealing with that crap when you’re trying not to lose your mind studying. Also, you end up being in the same classes with these people for years, so if you hook up in your first few months and it doesn’t work out, you’re stuck with them for another 3.5 years.

You attempting to listen in class while your ex-girlfriend stares a hole into your face.

“Be ‘that guy’ that everyone can depend on. Keep your gossip in check; there’s plenty going around on a typical unit. Be the trusted listener.” There is so much unnecessary gossip that flies around the nurses’ station. Don’t get involved. Don’t engage people when they start talking negatively about coworkers. That’s why I love working with guys—they don’t talk or want to talk about who is sleeping with who, who is lazy, how broke people are. Being the trusted listener is the BEST place to be.

“Read, read, read. Twitter is a fantastic learning hub [cough @rymitch18 and @NurseEyeRoll cough cough]. Eventually, people will notice that you are generally prepared for anything you face.” The more you read/know, the less you freak out, the easier your shift is. YAY!

This could totally be you…being right.

“Sexism only exists if you let it. Patients who initially feel hesitant with a male RN will relax when you demonstrate confident professionalism!” Uh-gree. If you treat all patients with confidence, they’re put at ease because they feel like you really know what you’re doing. And they don’t care when you help them do gross/embarrassing stuff because you’re being professional.

Be as confident and unashamed as Michael is about how much he hates Toby.

“Never, ever call a patient ‘honey,’ ‘dear,’ ‘sweetie,’ ‘love.’ It’s unprofessional and straight up weird when a guy says it! Refer to the patient by their name.” This is just a good rule all around. I’ve met people who despise being called those names and I hate it, too. It’s unprofessional, so if I were in their position, I wouldn’t trust you as much because you’re treating me like a child. On that note, don’t ask any adults if they need to “potty.” If anyone asked me or my family that, I would flip. I am not a child; do not speak to me like that.

“I always introduce myself to patients with a handshake. Works for guys like me who may not always feel comfortable with the touchy side of nursing. That said, you’ll learn when a reassuring pat on the shoulder, or pulling up a chair, sitting down and holding a hand, is needed. Don’t be distant!” I actually introduce myself with a handshake, and it sets a really good tone for your shift. Patients and families LOVE it. I can just see it in their faces. It sets a professional vibe immediately and it really reassures people by establishing a connection. And yes, it’s perfect for guys who aren’t comfortable with the emotional side of nursing because you really do establish an emotional/trusting relationship when you do that.

Be confident. Ryan is right—sexism only exists if you let it.

I mean, really.. .it really isn’t that different from any advice for any other nursing student. Most people are completely used to male nurses and nursing students and don’t even think about it. I mean, yes, you will get those older patients who call you “Doc” no matter how many times you remind them that you’re their nurse (go ahead, pretend you don’t kind of love it), or the occasional douche who asks why you didn’t go to medical school…but they do that to women too. It’s equally annoying.

I personally love working with guys; we just quote TV shows back and forth and get into a funny meme/e-card contest on our iPhones.

Also, there are some patients who will only listen to men. I’ve had some Amish and Muslim patients who refuse to listen to anything I say. I go grab my male nurse coworker and have them say the same thing and they finally listen. Some people are just like that; I’m not here to change their beliefs/religion/outlook…just here to take care of them. So, thanks, guys!

Here is a little more advice from some of my other male Twitter buds!

@aliff_rn: Don’t let the nurses intimidate you. You’re there to learn. Ask questions. Volunteer/ask to help with or do procedures.
@jamiegatewood: Learn proper body mechanics! Every female nurse on the unit will ask for your help when pulling a pt up in bed!
@pumpmyvolume: Just go in with confidence! Ask questions! Be respectful! Do your thing—don’t ever stop dancing. Man nurse to man nurse.

Anyone else out there have anything to add!?

To read more, visit

Nursey-123x18511Becoming Nursey: From Code Blues to Code Browns, How to Take Care of Your Patients and Yourself talks about how to realistically live as a nurse, both at home and at the bedside…with a little humor and some shenanigans along the way. Get ready: It’s about to get real, real nursey. You can get your own copy at, Amazon or Goodreads (ebook).

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2 Responses to Advice for male nursing students FROM male nurses

  1. Nate.F

    I work as a tech while in nursing school. I read this article and decided I was going to try the hand-shaking idea the next shift I worked. I found that several of my clients did seem to appreciate it. I think it has to do with people being treated like they would had they not been in the hospital. If I were to meet these same people in the outside world, I would shake their hand there…so why not in the unit? Altogether, great advice! Thank you!

  2. Concerned

    Male nurse advice from a patient.

    My wife and I both have an attitude of no male nurses or male techs due to past experiences. Please hold your temper and see if you can understand why the new attitude.

    I personally never thought about it for me. I was in the navy during the 70’s and the best medical attention I ever received was from the male Navy Corpsmen. This includes situations like checking for urinary tract infections and possible STD’s. The Corpsmen were always professional on and off the job. I hung out with them quite a bit off duty and never once did I hear them talk about patients even while they were under the influence of alcohol. They had my total respect. I have undergone 8 surgeries since leaving the Navy and never experienced a male tech or male nurse for any of them. These procedures include a vasectomy, appendectomy and surgical removal of a kidney stone. The female nurses were always very respectful and never caused embarrassment. I was amazed how one female nurse shaved my pubic area for an appendectomy and never exposed my penis.

    Recently, my wife has gone to the hospital and had surgery on two occasions. Both times she was unnecessarily exposed and humiliated by male techs and nurses. They didn’t care that other patients or visitors were watching while they exposed her entire chest for the ecg. The female nurses that tended to my wife paid special attention to her privacy and even asked me to leave the room on several occasions. The females showed my wife respect that the males refused. Over the past 5 years at least 6 of my coworkers have gone into the medical field as techs and nurses. Apparently a background check is not required. Not one of these guys would I trust to take care of me or my family. They would gather around at work, talk about their sexual exploits and how the medical field gives them the opportunity to see all the breasts (cleaned up from their language) they wanted. I had no respect for them as a person (told them this on many occasions before walking off) and would be scared to death if I woke up and found them tending to me. Based on the disrespect shown my wife and the lack of screening of med techs and nurses I must concur with her on No Male Techs or Male Nurses.

    My advice to Male Nurses: Police your own, remove the nurses and techs that feel they have a right to strip down every female patient and take away her dignity, and demand better screening process for people trying to enter the field.