The term “male nurse” or even worse “murse” is not without its share of differing perspectives and opinions, yet at the heart of the matter lies the fact that anyone with dedication, integrity and passion for the field has what it takes to be an amazing nurse regardless of gender. As a female in a female dominant career, I’ve often wondered what my male classmates and professors feel in being more of a minority in nursing, and especially, what led them to this career choice in the first place. All of those that I’ve met- from faculty to fellow comrades-in-scrubs, have always been some of the most intelligent and compassionate people I’ve ever met in my life, and I was intrigued to find out more about how they felt and what their point of view is. I asked them several questions on the matter and here is what they had to say:
Let’s start with my favorite question, “Why did you choose nursing?” A good majority stated that they chose nursing due to the increased patient interaction and the fact that nurses provide more of an in-depth and all-encompassing care. Jessie Edwards, a senior at the Monmouth Campus, specifically mentioned that this aspect was his top motivation for pursuing nursing. Joshua Brehm, another senior at Monmouth and former paramedic said, “I always felt like I was simply applying a band aid to a larger problem. I always felt a strong urge to stay with my patients through the ED and beyond in order to provide comprehensive and holistic care.”
Andrew Middleton, MSN, RN, EMT-P, who is one of our faculty members was also in emergency medical services, and he also reiterated how the short time spent with patients left him feeling like there was more he could do, “I felt that I wanted to provide more holistic care.”
Notice how the themes so far of comprehensive and holistic care are present in all their answers? Mind you, these men were interviewed apart from each other and didn’t hear the others’ responses, so it definitely says something about the all-encompassing care that nurses provide and how attractive it is. Sometimes, it happens that these men got here by an unintended path and they fell in love with it along the way. Dr. Nick Miehl, Phd, RN., another Monmouth faculty member, was initially interested in medicine, but was attracted to the nursing program at his university and once in, he never looked back. John Reid, a junior from my cohort came here from a previous career as sales analyst and was working towards a degree as an occupational therapist and just wanted to try something new. Needless to say, he got that and some with this career!
None of those interviewed thought twice or felt odd about being in a predominately female profession, in fact they only had positive things to say. I specifically wanted to find out how they felt men were treated in nursing, that is, did they ever feel they were ever devalued, unappreciated, or only called on to work with combative patients and for doing the heavy lifting jobs in the hospital. Nick mentioned that he could see how that could happen in some situations, yet his general view is that men are treated just as well as women, “There is a growing equality of both genders now in the profession, but there are times when certain patient situations are more suited to specific genders based on patient preference. For example, a female often prefers a female nurse and same with males to males for personal care.”
This definitely makes sense, and there is no discrimination associated with it, it’s just a matter of comfort. As for how they feel they are accepted, Josh mentioned another aspect that I had never even thought of before, and that is he feels hugely accepted, but he wonders if it is because he is a male. Speaking of female friends of his who enter what some consider to be male professions, he says, “I’ve heard how they enter the classroom and field with the expectation that they need to prove themselves and their competence prior to being accepted by others whereas I’ve been accepted and assumed competent from the moment I entered the field.” Josh went on to further state that he sees this as a unique opportunity for men to be cognizant of their privilege in the matter and to use it to promote gender equality on both sides. Jesse also mentioned that he values and respects women’s opinions and accomplishments in the medical field, whether as nurses or as physicians or any other area of work and doesn’t see his gender as a valid reason to see himself as more educated or qualified than a female.
As you can see, Jesse and Josh both mentioned that men have a unique opportunity in the field to use their minority presence as a platform on which to promote gender equality in both the nursing field and the entire medical field in general. While we indeed have a long way to go until we reach full gender equality, it is comforting and assuring to see such sentiments and perspectives from my male classmates.
My final question was what their advice would be to a man who was considering whether or not to pursue a career in nursing, and here are their replies:
Stuart Chauvin- another fellow junior from my class said, “Don’t be afraid or intimidated, the gender majority isn’t as great a deal as you think and nursing school is not the monster you hear it made out to be.”
John Reid, “Don’t believe what you hear, complainers are always the loudest and you never get to hear those who have good things to say.”
Andy Middleton, “Do it!” he said emphatically, then later quoting the following slogan:
Dr. Nick, “This professional pathway can take you into many directions, yet it is unique because you can make your own career path and take it where you want it to go. Know what specialties you don’t want to work in to decide where you do want to go.”
Josh, “Nursing is one of the most diverse and rewarding professions; it is an incredible blend of science and heart. As a man, if your concern is how well you will fit in, there’s no need to be concerned. You will largely be accepted… but it comes with a responsibility. Our responsibility is to be self-aware and acknowledging of our many privileges and to show the utmost sensitivity when it comes to voicing any gender discrepancies or accomplishments we’ve had that may have been influenced by our gender privilege.”
Jesse, “Nursing is a fantastic field to be going into. You have the opportunity to work with amazing people, care for and be a part of peoples’ lives and to really make a difference for your community. Nursing is a gift, a science, and an art. Through nursing you can work with your hands, work with your brain and pour your heart into something great.”
Let’s forget the whole murse thing and come to appreciate each other for who we really are- we are nurses- period (well, in my case, a nurse-in-training), and that is really all that matters. Our gender doesn’t nor ever should limit our career choices or impact how others see or value our capabilities and intellect. Men make some of the most awesome nurses just as women make some of the most awesome physicians and surgeons. We are all uniquely equipped to use our abilities and potential to do some amazing things in this life, let’s not miss that golden opportunity and give it everything we’ve got.
To all the males who are considering nursing as a career, take heart from the messages given here first-hand from men in this profession, not only about how awesome it is to be a nurse, but of the great influence you can make on others in the process. To all those men who are already in the profession, my message to you all is that you are all simply amazing. You are valued and very much appreciated for your talents, intellect and unique perspectives and I firmly believe that we can build off of each other’s strengths and courage and together, we can change this world and our health care system one patient at a time.