Man enough to be a nurse?

Image: David Leahy | Cultura | Getty Images

A recent article in the Orlando Sentinel has re-focused attention on a 2002 ad campaign designed to break down gender stereotypes in nursing.  The “Are You Man Enough to Be  Nurse?” campaign was the brainchild of the Oregon Center for Nursing; its focal point was a black and white print ad featuring a line up of manly men who just happened to be nurses.

At the time, the campaign took some heat from nurses who deemed the ad “too macho.”  A small number of nurses believed the ad played up the nurses’ masculinity while ignoring their caregiving capacities.  Couldn’t the guys have at least smiled, they wondered?

But research from the American Assembly for Men in Nursing suggests the ad was right on target.  A 2005 AAMN survey found that men believe that images and ad campaigns depicting action, diversity, teamwork, technology and nurses as heroes may attract men to nursing, while men are turned off by ads that depict nurses as handmaidens or subservient to physicians.  Males also reject ads that reinforce stereotypes, including the nurse-in-white-uniform stereotype.

Considering the controversy over recent portrayals of nurses in the media, maybe all future ad campaigns should portray nurses as heroic, diverse healthcare providers?

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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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2 Responses to Man enough to be a nurse?

  1. Tim

    I agree 100% Most men can not stand the way we are perceived in nursing and I would guess a few have left because of that. The hardest thing about nursing to me is the gender issue. Let men be men as well as medical professionals. Too many people want to turn men into females with a different anatomy.

    • jayarrgh

      I agree with this. I would expand it to say that the gender perception issues have to change in the workplace as well. I left a good job in a major hospital ICU since the treatment I received as a male nurse by the majority of the female nurses was disrespectful and rude at times. I tried working with the nurses, my charge nurse, then my management but that led nowhere. It was a cultural problem that has to change from the ground up. Sad but true.