Male nurses and the doctor’s favorite myth

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I can’t say I like using the term ‘male nurse’, but it has staying power and clout when it comes to the circles of social media. I for one never use the darn term outside the internet. I find it misleading, confusing, and it sure doesn’t help alleviate the stereotypes out there by calling ourselves male nurses. But, the internet is what it is, so I’ll keep coining the term.

Male nurse myth #52: “The doctors treat a male nurse better/differently/preferentially than a female nurse” (by the way.. I have no idea how many myths are out there.. I just randomly picked a number).

This myth has been cropping up more and more lately. Not sure if it’s popularity is increasing, or I’m just paying attention more? The claim that a physician treats me better than my female co-workers is just hog-wash. Some claim it’s because I’m a ‘guy’. Some sort of male-bonding thing I guess? Other’s foolishly think doctor’s respect the ‘men’ more than the ‘women’. In the end, no matter what your theory is to explain this myth, it’s still just a myth. It AINT true.

As a male nurse (did I mention I hate that moniker), I get treated no differently based on my gender. My working relationship with any physician, just like all my other co-workers (regardless of gender), IS however directly correlated to my job performance.

The relationship between nurse and doctor is graded on a curve unfortunately. Let’s be honest here. A nurse who has keen critical thinking skills, an attention to detail work regimen and knows the golden rules of finely-balanced communication will have a great, strong, trusting and possibly stress-free relationship with any physician – once again regardless of the doctor or nurses’ gender.

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29 Responses to Male nurses and the doctor’s favorite myth

  1. keith kangas

    I disagree, I’ve been treated with more respect by some Doctors. It just depends on the Doctor in some cases, but I’ve seen it a few times.

  2. cherie

    So do female doctors treat female nurses different? get a grip, nurses

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      I’m going to have to agree with cherie’s statement here folks.

    • lakotasu RN

      Yes. I have seen female docs act much nicer to male nurses than the female nurses.

  3. Kathryn Wakeford

    I have to differ. I was married to a male nurse that admitted he received more respect from male doctors,solely because he was a man.The same with a close friend.
    Men respect other men’s opinions more, in every field.

  4. Carmen

    I disagree with you to some extent. Like everything else in life, there is no one-size-fits-all, so while it may not be true IN GENERAL that men in nursing get preferential treatment over their female counterparts, I have certainly seen it happen. I truly value all males in nursing, and would encourage any young (or older) male to consider the field. But there is definitely a gender-bias that you may not be aware of, seeing that you are a male. On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t know of any males who have gone into L&D or become a Lactation Consultant – they probably would not have a lot of credibility in those areas.

  5. Adam

    It could be worse: in pediatrics I get called a boy nurse.

  6. Megan

    It is just human nature. You are drawn to those you feel mirror you. They may not realize they do it, or even make an effort to do it, but male doctors do treat male nurses differently. How could they not? I’m not saying it’s negative…honestly, who cares if they do? Like the author of this article said, if they see you as a capable healthcare professional, they may shake hands and talk about fishing with the male nurse first but they will still treat you with respect.

  7. David

    I think it’s more about how women relate to male doctors. They are neither your father nor your husband.

    • lakotasu RN

      Oh David…are you kidding me? I have NEVER looked on any physician as a father or spouse substitute, and I haven’t worked with any nurses who did. Some of them may still be laboring under the “Docs are God” mindset, but not as father/spouse figures.

  8. Lori

    There may not be a difference in how male nurses are treated in the facilities that you have worked in. That is wonderful – to all be treated the same. But in the hospitals I have worked in – there is a huge difference!!

    • kcme RN

      Same here. I cannot say this true of ALL doctors. However, most of the male doctors I have had and opportunity to work with, treat the male nurses with greater respect than the female nurses. This is just my experience.

  9. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @Lori Once again sorry you have that where you work.

  10. Joe

    I think that it comes down to one of two things. In so many cultures around the world women are treated with something falling quite short of respect. So, when some of the doctors come to this country to work they unfortunatly bring thier skewed view of the way to treat men vs women with them. The other reason, I think, is that if one man is threatening or rude with another male he can never be sure of the reaction he will get. How can he know if the offended will attack or submit. This thinking makes many of the doctors I have met treat males differently. Except for surgeons and thats because they are gods. If you don’t believe me just ask one.

  11. Sean

    @Joe Interesting evaluation, thanks for the comment.

  12. IPlayTetris

    It’s a Mans world baby!!!!!

  13. n4

    Men get more respect because they deserve more respect.

    Men are who shaped this world. Period.

    I wonder how many females died in WW2?


    I wonder how many females died fighting along side the Spartans.


    • hugehpfan47 RN

      I wonder how many men there would be in this world without women…

      The bottom line is that all people regardless of age, race, or anything else, deserve respect until they do something to lose it.

  14. Inigo Montoya

    I kind of always thought it was womens/minorities job to complain about trivial stereotypes. Seriously? Your a man, act like one. Dont go down the road of the panzies.

    • AaronLPN LPN

      Nice comment. What’s next? A womans place is in the kitchen? It is not the 1970’s anymore. We don’t need narrow minded idiotic views like yours.

  15. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Inigo Thanks for your poignant feedback.

  16. Gtiger66

    You are completely off. Men can talk about fashion. YOu should like a sexist. Maybe you should get some experience as a nurse before you decide to write as if an expert. I have been a “male” nurse for almost 30 years and am a Nurse Practitioner. Men are treated differently on the units. I never had a MD yell at me or expect coffee or to get up so they can sit to chart. Having only been a nurse a few years, and just earning your BSN. Maybe you should focus on your nursing skills developing instead of writing as if you are some expert. One last thing, STOP SPEAKING FOR ME. You are wrong on this and perhaps you need some therapy.

    • cope63623 LPN

      Paranoid schizophrenia…I do not recall Sean speaking directly to you “G Man”. Tell those voices to go away. It was the toaster again. Listen man (I assume you are a man) it is a conversation. Opinions. Theory. No one is writing a book or teaching a class here. It is simply discussion between nurses of all ages and degrees. I see you are quite proud of your 30 years as a Nurse. You should be, but having age and education does not make you a good nurse. It just makes you a…well a nurse. Having compassion, understanding, being able to pick that drug book up and double check your 30 year memory, and not being to proud to do it; that’s what makes you a good nurse. Have respect for those that deserve it male or female. I can promise that I work with nurses and doctors that call me and ask my advice, and I do them as well. We are a team. I am a male nurse and I do bond with males better than females. I do not believe I am treated differently, but I do not recall talking about the sweater sale at Macey’s either. I do however believe that fishing and sports have came up a time or two. So as for the therapy part…well we all need some now and then. Seems you may be compensating for something in that 5th sentence though. Just say’n.

  17. BDJ RN

    Yeah, well I’m 6’4″ 220lbs, and in the last 15 years of my nursing career I have yet to run into a Dr. that feels comfortable enough to chew me out in front of other nurses like I’ve seen countless times with my female colleagues. Pretty sure that counts as getting treated differently.

  18. lakotasu RN

    Generalization is not my thing, but after working as a nurse for over 20 yrs, I have found, at least in my practice, that male nurses and male physicians *appear* to treat each other as equals. The docs (anesthesiologists) invite my male coworkers to their houses; during report (the Pain nurses and docs all get together for shift reports) the make docs converse a lot more with the male nurses; I worked in one ER where it was discovered the male nurses were getting paid more than the female nurses with equivalent or more experience. The hosp tried to justify it by saying the male nurses had families to support. As a single parent I found that particularly galling. Also, when working ER, the male nurses were treated differently than female nurses. Say what you will, but the “Old Boys Network” is alive and well in every facet of the working world.

  19. Disneypaula

    I agree, I rarely had problems with docs, and I worked lots of night shifts, when they are in their worst moods, but I gave a concise reason for calling, had done all that I could and had all the info he asked for at my fingertips and I always got the order I wanted without hassle! I saw other nurse crying all the time when they called the Dr. , but they did not have their facts and were “all over the place” ? Then we had the “old school” nurses who would NOT bother a Dr. at night “NO MATTER WHAT, he needs his sleep!” I don’t agree with your comment about the man-bonding over sports, I am a sports nut and have no use for fashion or shopping! I believe it is totally whether they respect you, woman or man! Great article!

  20. gl3

    I’ve been a Nurse for 24 years, we are our own worst enemies! often very inappropriately critical of and disrespectful toward one another! as evidenced by a lot of these comments!!! Respect yourselves and your co workers. You get what you give!! (I’m a man btw)

  21. htarceno RN

    Wow, this article has generated a longer thread than just about any I’ve seen. Thank you, Mr. Dent, for sharing this. The comments have been very interesting. In my experience, it mostly has to do with the Doctor’s ego. If a nurse, male or female, can navigate around the Doctor’s ego, it always guarantees smooth sailing. Or at least smoother sailing. And as for female physicians? I learned at an early age, being raised Catholic and taught by nuns, and having been married to a dominant woman, there are two ‘magic words’ that always guarantee smoother sailing…. “Yes, Ma’am”