What Being A Male Nurse Is NOT

Urban legends. That’s just what they are.

Some like to refer to them as ‘stereotypes’. Public opinion is generally not in sync with reality when it comes to the world of nursing.

This website and many others have discussed all the discrepancies before. Well, being a male nurse is no different. I’m here to tell you those stereotypes are not what’s in store for you.

Here is what being male nurse is NOT about:

  • We don’t always get accused of being gay, although it is a very real stereotype that men in nursing face.
  • We don’t get a job simply because we can lift the heavy patients.
  • We are not singled out as the go-to free-labor nurse on the unit, simply because we’re men and we might have muscles.
  • We do not lose our ‘man card’ when we become a nurse.
  • Critical care and emergency nursing are not the only place that hires us or employs male nurses (it just happens to be the popular choice).
  • The last time I checked I did not get a higher rate of pay just because of my gender. You earn every penny you get as a nurse, be it through experience or education.
  • Male nurses don’t have it ‘harder’ working as a nurse. Yes, just by the percentages we are the minority. But the job itself has never been gender specific.
  • And lastly, no you don’t get to tell a patient they have to accept you being their assigned nurse just ‘because’ or some cockamamie explanation about gender blindness. In the end, the patients’ comfort is part of their care. Get over yourself. It’s not a stereotype, it’s just a patient preference.

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31 Responses to What Being A Male Nurse Is NOT

  1. Tedd Perry

    We need to stop using the term (Male Nurse) altogether, it’s a pet peeve of mine. By using it we are supporting the idea that it “should” be a female. Think “Lady Cop”. See!
    Tedd P.

  2. Zach Ariail

    I dissagree with your first point. When I tell people I am a nurse, their next question is usually “are you gay,” or when I tell them that Mr. WHoever is going to be their nurse tommorrow, the patient usually asks if he is gay.

    On average, male nurses usually do make more money, compared to nurses as a whole. This is likely due to fact that male nurses are more likely to be bachelored nurses, or ex military. They are also more likely to take swing shift, flex, or on call positions, which usually have an added differential

  3. Russ

    There is one advantage to being a male nurse that I find interesting, although unfair I suppose. Doctors generally treat male nurses with a lot more respect. I find they’re more likely to say “please” and “thank you” and listen more attentively to what you have to say. Also, agitated male patients tend to take it down a notch when a male nurse comes into the room.

  4. murse

    Totally agree with ur mythbusting, cept I did get paid more out of school, almost 2 dollars more, slight difference I know, but my hr told me it was because I was male. And I found the opposite I’ve found that most people like a male nurse, and if a patient doesn’t want a guy for a nurse, most of the time they end up being pain the asses anyway so I welcome the assignment channge!

  5. Pingback: The male nurse myth continues « My Strong Medicine

  6. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Tedd I could not agree with you more, but the moniker is still used as a reference in social media. So I do use it from that aspect, not as part of my own real-world practice. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @murse @Russ @Zach I think that is what is so great about this debate, and our profession in general. There is no ‘norm’ or ‘expected’. I love that we all have differing stories and scenarios. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Jeanne

    I am a retired nurse and the mom of 4 males. Two are RN’s and one is in nursing school. The RN’s both work in ICU because ICU nurses are in greater demand and the pay scale is higher (they are both supporting a family) The student is also going to precept in ICU. I have a theory, that males are attracted to increased technology. Do you have any opinion about this?

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @Jeanne not sure if the technology attraction is gender biased either. lol, but then again I’m a tech geek.

  9. Efrain

    Other than the “being gay” questions, I don’t encounter what this discussion mentions. I happen to be openly gay, so it’s not a problem. I do agree with some of the “NOTS”, but actually disagree with some of the “AREs.” Where I live at, at least, males make the same starting pay as female nurses. Performance evals determine if next year I get 8% versus 3% increases, so if one works hard, one is rewarded regardless of the gender. I do agree, male patients tone it down with a male nurse’s presence. Doctors here are the same, regardless of the nurse’s gender, they have this superiority complex, of course, not all. So docs I work with are awesome.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @Efrain Thanks for your input! Once again there is no ‘common’ answer.

  10. Johnny Payne

    My friend, I agree with you on almost every point. I must tell you that I have been subjected to bias as a nurse that is also a man and have been blatantly told that “this is our profession” in different ways by different people. And yes, I have been recruited to do more labor because of my size (6’7″) and strength, but you are right, I am hired for my knowledge (CCRN) and experience (14 yrs). In addition, I do get “the question” about homosexuality once in a while. It’s not offensive to me, and actually kind of a compliment.
    Anyway, thanks for the blog and keep fighting the good fight my friend!

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @Johnny Thank you for the comment and visiting! Sorry that you actually have met that kind of bias. The fight continues!

  11. Leah Bat-Har

    Sean I want to make you aware of something. When you say “accused” of being gay you make it sound as if being gay is a crime or at least something negative, Being a gay male nurse is wonderful!

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @Leah I was not aware my choice of words could be interpreted in that manner, my apologies. thank you for sharing.

  12. Stephen Farley,RN

    I think my friend Sean here has quite a bit to learn before he starts telling others what a “male nurse” is and isn’t. First off the term “male nurse” is as antiquated as the period in time from which it came. Years ago when men only cared for male patients, they were called, “male nurses.” I would love to only take care of male patients, but my employer dictates that I take care of all patients, so I do. Plus, happily, because I’m a man, I get to take care of other men.
    Now, whoever told YOU the patient gets to decide who they will and will not be “nursed” by. I don’t chose my patients and my patients don’t get to chose their nurse. I’ve had one patient in 30 years request she not be cared for by a man – and in her case, an exception was made because of a recent assault. But garden variety “picking your nurse” must be avoided. Certainly we all have preferences – we don’t like this or that, but unless you have a very grounded, specific reason for not wanting someone as your RN then grin and bear it – it’s only 8 or 12 hours – and next time before the assignment is made, you can request not to assigned to that patient. Sean seems to feel that patients can take a look at their nurse and decide they can discriminate based on gender. Sorry, Sean, but gender discrimination is illegal. And you put yourself and your employer on shading grounds if you practice this at your faciliity. And lastly, some guy named Zach, says that after it is known that their nurse is male, they want to know if the nurse is gay!! REALLY? It’s hard to believe they ask that – why? Because In 30 years of nursing I’ve never been asked about a nurses sexual orientation by a patient. First of all, it is none of the patient’s business – and you, as a professional should tell them that. It’s unbelievable to me that you would tolerate such questions from your patients – the hospital needs to step in and educate their potential patients that sexual orientation has NOTHING to do with the level of care they will receive at the hospital. And as an RN you fail badly by not nipping this in the bud. What if the patients started asking you who you slept with last night? Well, it’s none of their business, right? Well, neither is your sexual orientation any of their business. Case closed. Whether a nurse is gay or straight has so little to do with their ability to provide professional care, that I’m surprised we’re even talking about it. Educate your patients and move on.

  13. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Stephen Thanks for your input.

  14. Tara

    @Stephan, You made a great point about being gay/straight having nothing to do with the professional care they are receiving, but there are patients who get to pick who their nurses are. In nursing homes specifically, I worked at one that actually has a female only preference to the RN and CNA care and so subsequently had their own hall. They just all happened to be female themselves because they were so uncomfortable with having a male nurse or CNA help them with their care.

  15. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @Tara Thank you for sharing your insight on a patient’s preference.

  16. Adam

    @Stephen; Come out of the closet already…

  17. DannyRN

    I dont agree with a lot of your statements. I am a nurse of 10 years who is a male who does not make more than my female counterparts. A nurse is a nurse, a skilled nurse is a skilled nurse. As for males working in ICU/ER, I think it is likely because males working in a female dominated profession aim to work in an area that may prove high competence and intense knowledge and gain valuable experience. Lets face it, the male is less likely to offer mothering skills that are inherited traits, but are likely to follow a more autonomous career route as an alpha male in a highly acute area such as ICU and ER.

  18. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Danny I think you may have misinterpreted this post. I do believe men make more than women, etc, I do always appreciate comments.

  19. ruralnurse RN

    I am a nurse not a male nurse. Never had a pt yet who made dumb comments about men and nursing. Being the only medical help on a 600 kilometre stretch of highway, people are just happy I am there. Being a midwife as well, I’ve never had a woman in labour not want me there.

    • neonghost7 Student

      Just want to say that it is awesome that you are a midwife. I agree, in an emergency no patient is going to be ‘Ahh! I am in so much pain! I’ve just had my arm ripped off! Please help me! Oh, no-wait… not you. I need a lady nurse. My pain can wait.’ Now, in cases of recent assault I can understand wanting to specify which gender they choose. And this goes for both. Be it a female wanting a female nurse, or a male wanting a male nurse. But mostly all patients care about is getting better. My dad is an RN and he has never once had a patient ask him about his sexual preferences.

  20. Sean you do and excellent job of clarifying some of the common misconceptions about male nursing! Excellent job.

  21. kithiggins

    I’m a guy and I’m hoping to get into nursing school next year I have served as a combat medic and have worked as a paramedic and currently in a medical assistant program and yes my goal is ER nurse.

  22. htarceno RN

    Well, I agree with most of the comments, however, there are 3 that I disagree with –
    1. I HAVE been singled out as the ‘go-to free-labor nurse’ on the unit, simply because I was a man and had muscles
    2. The very first question I was asked by my very first patient was “You’re not gay, are you?” but that was 20 years ago. Over the years, it’s changed and rarely happens now.
    3. I have NEVER in 20 years of nursing, ever got paid a penny more than my female counterparts. Can you tell me where I can apply for a job that pays “Male differential”?

    Thank you for the article and all your articles that I enjoy reading

  23. Adel Abul Ela


  24. BramRN

    In the US at least, there seems to be a pay gap, ALSO after controlling for things like education. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2208795

    I have been asked if I’m gay once or twice and I too have met (quite some) gender bias (also positive), but in the end I think that being male has been mostly helpful. The fact that I am waaay stronger than my female colleagues has been very helpful at times 😀

  25. mlpnm

    Sorry but disagree with this. I have and as of right now am being paid less than some of the female nurses. I have been nurse 30 years and the females less than 10. Yes been told they rather have me on at night due to the fact that I am male. Yes, have been called to do something because I am male. Have found that it is alright for the females to discuss where that have some tattoos and piercings, but yet when I say something I am being sexiest. Females where there pants so tight that you can see every bump and dent, and yes even able to see that they are wearing a thong, but when I wear tight pants am told that others find it offensive. Yes, there is double standards in this profession. Does it make me want to get out of it NO, I do enjoy my job. Have learned to keep mouth shut and walk away.