Becoming a male nurse

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Would you trust a male nurse during your labor and delivery?

On the labor and delivery unit where I work, there are no male nurses. And it kind of got me thinking — is that acceptable? There are male obstetricians everywhere, right? What’s the difference?

Can guys be labor and delivery nurses?

According to a 2005 survey of male nurses by Hodes Research, less than 1 percent of male nurses work in obstetrics (OB) — the lowest percentage of any field. And as recently as less than 10 years ago, some states, like California, actually legally banned males from working as nurses on obstetrical floors.

Today, states and hospitals cannot deny a male entry into a nursing profession simply based on his gender. However, in a lot of instances, social and cultural norms may still prevent male nurses from entering the field.

First of all, there is what I professionally call the “weirded-out” factor. Many women — and probably even more so, men — express a wariness towards male nurses in the OB field. “I was hardly comfortable with a male doctor,” said Morgan Renae. “A male nurse watching everything and assisting with the stitches would’ve been too awkward!” Aware of that stigma, many male nurses avoid the OB floor altogether.

As a nurse, I have worked with a few male nurses on other floors, and they have all been wonderful. Caring, fun, empathetic, and if I’m being completely honest, quite handy sometimes if I had a heavier patient I needed assistance with. But when it comes to the business of having a baby?

I’m just not sure I’d want a male nurse

Legally and professionally, of course, I know I have no business saying this. As fellow nurse Amanda Hoover tells it, “I think that whatever gender the nurse may be, as long as he or she has a great bedside manner and is there to work as a patient advocate/knowledge base/another support person, as well as your nurse, then that is the best person for the job!”

Logically, I know she’s right. But as a woman and a mother, I purposefully chose a female care provider for each of my three births. To me, it’s not so much about the physical anatomy part or even that I would care if a male nurse saw me down there — trust me, that’s the last thing I could care about during labor. Instead, to me, there’s just something about having that female relationship that feels essential to me, akin to the sacred rite of passage that birth has been to women throughout history. Women spend the majority of their labor with their nurses. There is much more of a bond established with the nurse, rather than the doctor — who swoops in at the last minute to catch the baby.

Maybe a male nurse would be OK

On the flip side, many women have actually found that males can be more caring and empathetic during labor and delivery.

“Men haven’t actually experienced labor so they may be gentler because they can’t even imagine what it feels like, whereas a woman may have been there herself and think, ‘I did it and lived,’ so this woman will too,” explains Loriann Hawkins.

Surprisingly enough, in an unofficial survey on my Facebook page, the majority of women professed that gender simply didn’t matter to them. As Leigha Campbell nicely summed it up, “I don’t care who is helping me as long as they are a professional,” she wrote. “By the time I’m ready to deliver modesty has no place in the room!”

Tell us

What do you think? Would you be comfortable having a male nurse during your labor and delivery?

More about labor and delivery

Who’s your daddy? What you need to know about birth certificates
Newborn safety in the hospital
What does your childbirth choice say about you?

What It’s Like to Be a Male Nurse

By Martin Robbins, Special to Everyday Health

I was extraordinarily comfortable in my rut.

At 27 years old, I was living at home with an idyllic career as a security guard. I had a steady days rotation, which left my evenings free for bodybuilding. I went to the gym regularly as I prepared to enter my first bodybuilding competition in the fall.

As comfortable as I was, I was well aware that life was passing me by.

I was insanely jealous of the paramedics I came across while working as a security guard. They wore uniforms, sunglasses, and stethoscopes. They looked so cool, I wanted to be one.

Then, as if by fate, the catalog from Humber College landed in the mail. While flipping through it, I saw they offered a paramedic program. I wanted in. I was going to do it! But a funny thing happened along the way.

The intense competition to enter the paramedic program scared me. I spoke to paramedics who said there were few job prospects. While I was built like The Hulk, I was afraid I wouldn’t pass the physical. Running is not my forte.

My mother thumbed the course catalog and suggested I try nursing instead. “Nursing!” I exploded. “That’s for the girls!” But after speaking with a few nurses, watching endless episodes of Trauma: Life in the ER, and reflecting on my dead-end security job, I changed my mind.

I applied to the college’s registered nursing program and was accepted.

Nursing: Not Just For Women Anymore

Nursing school was a blast. I was older then many of my schoolmates, and as one of four males (compared t0 200 females) I stood out.

I excelled academically, went on a lot of dates, and interacted well with my patients. I was always a source of curiosity; a male in a female-dominated profession. The male patients always assumed I was an orderly or a janitor. Meanwhile, the female patients would address me as “doctor,” and when I would correct them and say I was a nursing student, they would inevitably reply, “Oh, okay, doctor.”

Clinical practice is where I met my first real resistance to men in nursing. Nursing students in my school were allowed to choose between a pediatric rotation or labor and delivery. I choose pediatrics, as it seemed more applicable to my ultimate goal to be an ER nurse. Jake, a fellow male nurse, choose labor and delivery and was constantly telling horror stories. As a male he was never allowed to be alone with a patient, neither pre- nor post-delivery. He was mandated to have a chaperone with him the entire time. Jake felt as if he had been convicted without a trial, or that people thought he was only in nursing to see vaginas. He was so disturbed by his clinical session, he left school the next semester.

People in pediatrics, on the other hand, accepted me like they would any other nurse. I felt as if I were a part of the team. My classmates even campaigned for me, prodding me to ask our instructor out on a date once they found out we were both born in 1972. (She politely declined.)

Oh, a Male Nurse

After I graduated, my first job was in the intensive care unit of a medium-sized hospital. I was the only male on the entire floor.

Again, I found that I was either the doctor or the orderly. When I clarified, stating that I was the nurse, the patients would look at me blankly.

“Oh, a male nurse!” one 40-year-old gasped in amazement. “Yeah, it was a special course I had to take to add the ‘male’ part,” I shot back.

The other nurses treated me as an intruder. I didn’t feel welcomed. I was ignored, shunned, and talked down to until I got the point.

I didn’t fit in. So I left.

Shifting the Testosterone Balance

I took a job in the emergency department, where I met Jeff and Scott. Both male, both nurses. They were cool guys who were relaxed about who they were and their career choices. I watched and learned how they coolly corrected anyone who mistook them for the janitor. I watched how they answered when the little old ladies asked if they were trying to go to medical school. They would answer calmly, “Nope, I’m happy being a nurse.”

The female nurses also accepted me as part of the team. Meanwhile, I learned how to eat my lunch amid group conversations pitting pads against tampons. Every once in a while Jeff, Scott, and I would all be on shift together and joke that the balance of testosterone had shifted.

My new position was great, save for one ugly incident. The new nursing manager, acting on a lame tip and her own suspicions, called a bunch of male nurses into her office and compiled a write-up scolding them for not performing their duties, specifically their refusal do female catheterizations. The guys were taken aback. Sure, the odd female refused to have a male nurse catheterize her, but there was a simple fix: Just ask your shift partner to do it. No big deal. I, myself, had to place catheters in males when a female nurse felt embarrassed. I once took over for Sarah, a fellow nurse, when she felt too uncomfortable to catheterize one of her patients once she found out he was a priest!

Why I’m Proud to Be a Nurse

Now, 12 years later, most patients barely blink when walk in and say, “I’m the nurse.” They’ve already been cared for by Dan, seen John walking around, or have had Stone fetch water for them when they rang. On more than one shift, the guys have outnumbered the women.

I still get requests from female patients asking if they can switch to a female nurse. This usually comes from women who are strictly religious, have some sort of personal menstruation problem, or have “lost” a condom (which, as it so happens, is quite a frequent complaint in the ER).

At the same time, I willingly take on belligerent drunks during my shifts, and let them run their mouth to me. (Don’t forget, I was once a competitive bodybuilder. I don’t intimidate easily.) I seem to be the go-to guy for helping lift patients or picking up those who have fallen on the floor.

I have grown to love and adore the women on my shift, and have received the same affection back. I’m often roped into looking at sweaters online being and being asked my color and style opinion. I walk my nursing colleagues to their cars at the end of evening shifts and give man advice about why their teenage son does the things he does. Likewise, I get Valentines Day advice (no chocolate!) and some good nature ribbing that comes with being the rooster in the hen house.

So why the shift of men into nursing? The pay is excellent. I have a nice house on a tree-lined street and am well on track to retire at 55. The work is rewarding. I am able to help when people need it: be it giving life saving medications or simply getting a warm blanket for someone’s Grandma.

There are an abundance of jobs right now, so a post-graduate job is almost guaranteed. Every day, the profession becomes more and more respected.

All I can say is I am nurse, and proud of it.

Martin Robbins has been a male nurse for 12 years, working primarily in emergency medicine with a short stint as a flight nurse. He escapes the ER every chance he gets to enjoy time with his family (he has two girls, ages three and five). Any questions or comments about nursing or being a male nurse can be sent to [email protected] .

Being a male nurse doesn’t come without its stigma, but I’m here to say proudly that there are more benefits to being a male nurse than drawbacks. This is a look into my job and my life.

A Day in the Life of a Male Nurse

It’s 6:00 on a Thursday evening and the alarm on my phone wakes me up from a deep sleep. I completed my wake-up ritual; put the coffee on, take a shower, have some “breakfast” and away I go. I arrive to the hospital and report to my third night shift to end this weeks 3/3 nights. After receiving the report, I begin to think about which patient I must attend to first. As a nurse with seven patients, I’ll more than likely be having my hands full.

I proceed to enter my patient’s room, and begin my initial survey; “Room looks clean, patient is not in distress, patient is well groomed, and sitting up in the bed with family at bedside eating their dinner.”

With a quick knock on the door, I slowly push the door open and look in. The patient hurries to sit up and says to the family, “Lets clean up, the doctor wants to come in.”

“No ma’am, my name is Eric and I’ll be your nurse tonight. How have you been feeling since your surgery?”

“Oh, I thought you were going to be my new doctor, I seen so many doctors since I have been in the hospital.”

I continue with my nursing assessment, gather vitals and then quickly step out of the room to chart; now onto patient number 2, I think to myself, grab my sheet used to take notes on during report to prepare myself with this patient’s history. Again, with a quick knock on the door, I present myself. The patient is laying in bed in bed talking on the phone as I enter and can hear: “Oh dear, sorry I have to hang up the phone, the doctor is here and he has to talk to me, I’ll call you right back. So doctor will I be having my surgery tonight?”

“I’m sorry ma’am but my name is Eric and I’ll be your nurse for tonight.”

The remainder of the shift continued to be smooth, which is a rarity. Nightly medications were given, glucose was checked and our nursing assessments/check in were completed in timely fashion.

I can hear a beep on the unit loud speaker; “Eric, please come to the phone, phone call from ER line one.”

I finished my charting and start my walk over to the nurse’s station and pick up the line, “This is Eric, who am I speaking with?” With just one phone call, I have been give an eighth patient that has to be admitted to my floor.

Transporters brought the patient up and I was able to complete the admission process. At this time, I am able to check to see if any new orders have been added to my patients. As I look on the computer, it reads one new order my newly admitted patient, insert foley catheter.

I think to myself, simple enough, I’ll get my supplies and will be back to charting in no time.

The foley is inserted with no issues or complaints from the patient, but they do have one question at this time: “why would a male ever go into this profession?”

I was shocked initially as to why they couldn’t understand, as a male, my reasoning for becoming a nurse. I thought the reasons why someone would get into this field of medicine were as plain as day. At this point, I was intrigued to see what their idea of a man in nursing meant to them.

“Well, not to be rude, but isn’t nursing a women’s profession? Maybe I’m old fashioned but usually we see women doing this job.”

The Benefits of Being a Male Nurse

I reached out to friends of mine who are males in nursing to ask what their beliefs of male nurses are. As it turns out, being a male nurse comes with many, many benefits.

Male nurses spark conversation and build relationships

“Being in the 10% of the male nursing population, always sparks interest in patients, family at bedside, nurses, and physicians, this acts as an initiator to opens lines of communication and again promotes an environment where communication is encouraged.” Blake writes, who is CCRN ICU nurse and currently enrolled in a nurse anesthetists program.

I one hundred precent agree with this statement. I have had many opportunities to educate patients on my specific reasons for becoming a nurse and with allowing my patient to know small details of myself. This allows the patient to feel comfortable and become more trusting of me to provide their care. We all know that our shifts do not always allow for this type of conversation to occur with every patient at every shift; however, when an opportunity opens and I know it will help the patient to become more comfortable, then go for it. Also, I can be a calming factor to my patients when I teach them regarding care, what to expect for surgery and who to follow up with once they are released to go home.

The benefits of being a male nurse are the same benefits of being a nurse, period

Being a male nurse to me would entail what being a nurse would mean to any nurse, male or female. This profession offers the ability to influence a patient’s hospital stay, surgery experience and overall healing experience. Nursing has teamwork deeply embedded into its core – we work together without realizing it.

For example, a nurse is in a contact precaution room and ran out of 10 mL IV flushes. The nurse can shout out, “hey can someone grab me a flush” and before you know it, three nurses are there to help you or while you’re working in the patient room and you colleague walks by, they’ll almost certainly ask, “are you ok in there? Do you need anything?” These simple acts of teamwork and camaraderie is what makes me most proud to be in this profession. This nursing career slowly turns into your second family, the people on your unit slowly become your friends and most trusted advisors. Also, what an opportunity nursing provides to be able to give back to the community.

Now thinking back to my patient’s question: “Why would a male go into nursing?” I say proudly and confidently to that patient “Why wouldn’t I want to go into nursing!”.

About the author:

Eric Langlois BSN, RN is a registered nurse practicing family medicine in Miami, Florida. During his nursing school career, Eric joined a mentoring service that took first year students and helped them become adjusted to the nursing environment. As a new grad nurse who aspires to work in critical care (specifically the Cardiovascular ICU), Eric created his Instagram account to show others what it means to be a nurse and how nursing can have a positive impact on the community. Follow Eric on Instagram.

Rising Demand for Male Nurses

There is a growing demand for more nurses in general and that the demand for male nurses is currently on the rise. Male nurses are increasing their presence at the bedside, hospital, clinic, and nursing home. The American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN) profiles the progress of its campaign for a 20% increase in the number of male nurses in the workforce by 2020. We all know that the nursing profession would benefit from a more diverse representation of gender, age, and cultures within the workforce.

Male nurses are bringing balance to the profession, which benefits patients as a whole. Having male nurses ensures that male patients are well cared and represented. Sometimes patients prefer a nurse of a certain sex, particularly for procedures like inserting a catheter, serving a bedpan, or administering EKG. Male nurses have skills and care-giving strengths that can make nursing an excellent career for them. Importantly, the benefits of being a male nurse are the same benefits of being a nurse.

If you are male and thinking about becoming a nurse, don’t hesitate to explore the career and most importantly look into yourself to ensure that this is the right career for you. Nursing is a challenging job and one that requires hard work, integrity, and dedication. Nurses can treat every patient regardless of gender, but dealing with human sickness and patients who may be crabby and cranky is simply a fact of life for nurses. As nurse, you are able to help patients and give them a level of comfort and put them at ease. The world of nursing holds many possibilities. There are over 100 different nursing specialties available and there are plenty of ways to advance your career if you are willing to work hard. Since not everyone has what it takes to be a nurse, there are a lot of considerations when it comes to nursing and what your personality needs to be like in order to be a good nurse.

Here are four key questions to ask yourself.

1. How well do you cope with stress and emergency situations?

Nursing jobs can be stressful at times. If you are someone who can work well under pressure and copes well with stress, you will do well as a nurse.

2. Are you easily offended?

Nurses sometimes come in contact with patients who are hostile or unfriendly. Being easily offended can make your nursing job difficult and stressful quickly.

3. Do you consider yourself to never stop learning?

The field of health care is continuously changing, whether it is a new disease or recently discovered new treatment, nurses learn something new every day. Therefore, a good nurse is always ready to learn more.

4. Are you a team player?

Teamwork is essential in nursing to getting the job done right and improving the patient’s health. Nurses, who enjoy their job, work well with other team members.

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The Male Nurse: Benefits and Percentages of Men in Nursing

There are more men in nursing today than at any time in history – and that’s good for male nurses and the profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 12% of registered nurses are now men, up from 2.7% male RNs in 1970. As the nation’s population ages, the bureau projects nursing will add more than 735,000 jobs by 2024, the third largest job growth of any industry – and a big opportunity not just for men but for any underrepresented group in nursing, for that matter.

Daniel Arellano, a nurse practitioner in upstate New York and graduate faculty member at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), sees tremendous opportunity for men in nursing. “Nursing offers endless growth potential that may be attractive to men seeking a stable career track,” he said.

“In my nursing school class of 80, there were less than 10 male students,” said Arellano. “These days, the numbers have greatly increased with men accounting for over a quarter of the graduating class.”

Why the higher percentage of male nurses? Men are realizing what women have known since Florence Nightingale founded modern nursing in the late 19th century. “Nursing is a rewarding profession,” said bachelor’s in nursing graduate Cesar Bonilla Ramos ’18, a dialysis nurse in Boston, MA. “We touch the lives of people from birth to death.”

Benefits of Being a Nurse

Besides the inherent reward of helping people in times of need (a bonus for any gender), nursing offers an unusual array of professional perks. Healthy demand, high salary potential, advancement opportunities, flexibility and a wide variety of specializations are among them.

“The sky is the limit when it comes to nursing,” said Ramos, who likes the wide range of career paths open to him as a nurse. “If someone is good working under pressure, ER is a good choice. If you’re tech-oriented, there is nursing informatics.”

John Bergacs IV ’18, a flight nurse in a busy metropolitan area of New Jersey who earned his MBA in Healthcare Management, said “the biggest benefit is going into a career with high demand and a good aspect of employment coming out of school.”

A self-described Type A personality, Bergacs started out in the ER. He believes the “exciting, high-intensity work caring for patients with high acuity” appeals to many men in nursing. “In these situations, it feels like you can do more for a single patient,” he said.

Arellano agrees that “male nurses are often drawn to higher acuity environments such as critical care, flight nursing or emergency medicine.” But he’s quick to add that “they’re represented in almost every nursing specialty.”

Flexibility is another big benefit of being a nurse. Because Bergacs works as both a civilian nurse and a captain with the U.S. Air Force Reserve at New Jersey’s McGuire Air Force Base, he really appreciates the flexible schedule nursing offers him. He works three 12-hour shifts, three days a week and still manages to fit in two weeks a year of training and flight drills once a month.

Adjunct faculty member Kevin Callaway, a CMSRN (Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse), echoes that sentiment. “Flexibility is the most attractive aspect of nursing for men,” he said. “Nursing encompasses so many options, not just in terms of the clinical environment one might choose or the various advanced practices, but options relating to length and number of shifts to maximize time with family, per diem positions requiring only a few shifts per month for extra income, and geographic flexibility since skilled clinicians are in demand across the country.”

Callaway credits women for elevating nursing from an occupation to a profession and, in turn, increasing its appeal. “Nursing has experienced tremendous professionalization over the past several decades,” he said. “Nurses are now recognized as full participants within a team of interdependent healthcare professionals, which is a much more appealing role than that of a subordinate extension of a physician.”

So How Much Do Male Nurses Make?

That’s a tricky question, because it depends on so many factors. Your area of specialization, geographic location, education level and personal ambition all play a role. But generally speaking, there’s parity between what male and female nurses make.

“There are still some obstacles men in nursing face, particularly in specialties dominated by women,” Arellano said. “But I believe men can be equally compassionate and provide equivalent care in any arena.”

According to the BLS, registered nurses earned a median annual wage of $71,730 in May 2018, the last period in which the BLS collected income data. In the same period, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners, aka advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), reached a median of $113,930. Nurse educators earn an annual median income of $73,490.

As a dialysis nurse in the healthcare hub of Boston, Ramos noticed a growing need in his area of specialty. “Some of the major dialysis providers offer signing bonuses up to $10,000 for an experienced nurse,” he said, noting a similar trend in the OR.

But while the pay may be higher in major metro locations, opportunities abound in rural areas. “I believe the greatest demand for nursing is within primary care and medical surgical nursing units,” said Arellano. “This is particularly true in rural areas of the country that may not have a local nursing school graduating new nurses for the community.”

Arellano also believes “the nurse practitioner track is growing the fastest since there are greater needs for care providers in the inpatient and outpatient environment,” he said. “Nurse practitioners are ideally positioned to help in the practice of medical care in rural communities.”

Callaway adds his take on where the jobs are. “Regions with high concentrations of older adults will probably continue to be associated with the greatest demand for nurses,” he said.

What is it Like to be a Male Nurse?

Literally? “You’re always on your feet,” Bergacs said, “so I always wear sneakers, because you run around all day.”

Speaking in a more philosophical vein, Callaway sums it up this way: “A few lingering assumptions about gender roles in healthcare still exist, but this usually only results in a patient assuming their male nurse is the physician (or their female physician is the nurse).”

Callaway stressed that whether you think of nursing as a calling or simply want to improve the wellbeing of others, “the most effective nurses tend to share compassion, empathy, humility and self-confidence as common characteristics.

“Men do tend to gravitate toward critical care nursing, which may seem to an outsider as more technology-focused and less personal,” he said, “but I can assure you there are many hands held, backs rubbed, feet washed, bed linens changed and words of encouragement shared in these environments, too.”

Any nurse who’s been in the profession for any length of time sees universal truths in this perspective. Bergacs is one of them. “Nursing is truly a passion,” he said. “Don’t go into it for just financial reasons.

“Nursing programs are some of the most rigorous you can go through,” said Bergacs. “The joke is you never meet nursing students at parties, because they’re busy studying.”

Nursing is Lifelong Learning

As an educator, Arellano always encourages nurses to continue their education. “My students quote me by saying, ‘keep climbing the educational ladder.’ Learning is a requirement to be a great nurse,” he said. “Whether that learning is a local conference to enhance your skills or a PhD, always strive to make yourself a better nurse.”

Callaway agrees. “More and more facilities are requiring a baccalaureate degree for entry into nursing practice, so I still encourage nurses with an associate degree to seriously consider continuing their education via a post-licensure BSN program,” he said.

After earning a traditional BS in Nursing, Bergacs pursued his MBA online through SNHU. “Because I have a busy schedule between my military and civilian nursing careers, I found it easy to accommodate class time,” he said. “I worked nights and did my schoolwork at night instead of during the day and completed the program as time allowed.”

While he hopes to progress to management, he says his MBA brings a business perspective to his current role that makes the job experience richer for him. “My helicopter brings business into the hospital system,” he said. “And it’s also a marketing tool and public relations. You’re representing the hospital system when you’re piloting the helicopter.”

There’s no disputing the benefits of being a male nurse or furthering your education. But Callaway has a piece of advice for anyone considering a nursing degree. “Learn as much as you can about what a nurse does on a daily basis before committing to nursing as a major,” he said.

“A decent salary and the strength of the job market for nurses attracts a lot of folks to the profession,” Callaway said, “but it’s hard work – and you really must have a heart for others and the profession itself to truly enjoy the rewards of nursing.”

Betty Egan is a freelance copywriter with 25+ years of experience across a diverse spectrum of industry sectors, including higher education. She lives and works remotely from the mountains of northern New Hampshire. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Being a male nurse poses a wide array of challenges. Physical, mental, social, and emotional factors can either have a positive or negative impact on your role as an “angel of the sick room”.

Some men shy away from the nursing field because of the perception that this is a field dominated by females. But, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of male registered nurses has tripled since 1970, from 2.7 percent to 9.6 percent.

As a male nurse myself, here are some of the hardest things about being in the nursing profession.

Editor’s Note: This post is authored by one of our new contributors and reflects the author’s personal and professional experiences.

Gender Biases are Real

Quality of health services is an essential factor in terms of health care access. Access encompasses a range of dimensions such as geographic distribution of healthcare facilities, affordability, accessibility and acceptability.

However, even if patients do have access to healthcare services and do get to see a healthcare provider, they will not necessarily be able to access good quality care because of certain barriers in the provider-patient relationship. In highly patriarchal societies, the importance of gender concordance between healthcare provider and patient is a highly sensitive issue because of socio-cultural and religious norms. This does not only set the boundaries of gender roles but also limits social and physical contact between men and women.

As a male nurse, you will have the opportunities to do cervical exams, assist in deliveries, insert foley catheters to drain the urine of female patients, conduct breast assessment, perform perineal care, and do many other things that require physical contact with a female patient. This is where the most challenging part arises: that male nurses must cope with sexual stereotyping regarding suspicion surrounding intimate touch. If a female patient misinterprets your actions as “sexually assaulting”, then you can get into trouble and you can lose your hard-earned license, dignity and respect.

There will always come a time when female patients or even male patients will refuse your care. But don’t let patient preference get to you. It’s natural to be in these awkward moments and they are usually inevitable.

As a professional, it is important to keep in mind that the competence of the person should matter and not the gender. Keep in mind that being a male nurse will have no bearing on the quality of care that you can provide.

Remember to be professional at all times and focus on the task at hand and you will do just fine. Unless it’s a cultural consideration, a patient request, or a hospital protocol, you’ll find that most patients are accepting care from male nurses. You’ll just have to be ready for a range of scenarios and abide by the rules and regulations of the healthcare facility regarding gender roles.

Also Read: Male Nurses: On Defying Stereotypes

Higher Perceived Expectations

Being a male nurse comes with the additional challenge of facing different expectations from your family and colleagues. Because the nursing field is dominated by females, males sometimes feel they need to strive harder just to prove that they can be on par with their female counterparts in terms of competency.

Minority Nurse

Case in point, women are perceived by a lot of patients as more caring, nurturing, and gentler. This contrasts with the perceived manly traits of strength, aggression and dominance.

But this is just a stereotype that is damaging for the nursing profession in general. Male nurses can be as caring and competent as their female counterparts and even excel in this field.

In fact, the demand for male nurses is currently increasing. Recognizing the need for more male nurses has led the American Assembly for Men in Nursing to run a campaign called 20 X 20 in order to recruit more men into the nursing field.

Masculinity Maintenance

Male nurses face role traps and sex typing almost everyday. Many people in general believe that nursing is not for men.

Patients, watchers, doctors and even your co-nurses would automatically jump to conclusions that you are either homosexual, or incompetent for the job, or both, if you are a male and you pursue nursing as a career.

Men who work in jobs emphasizing attributes traditionally assigned to women can be labeled as gay. Some people think that if you are really a man, then you would do a “man’s job”? Never mind that we live in the modern world where gender equality is supposed to be a given.

Male nurses have a strong pressure on them to comply to society’s norms and need a strong sense of self if they are to resist this stereotype, and continue to pursue their nursing career.

Also Read: 16 Male Nurse Jokes (Of Murses and Men)

The He-man Label

Simple reality: males are physically stronger than females. If you try to check your work schedule, there is always balance in it – it is rare for you to see an “all-women workforce”.

Of course, men are perceived to have greater physical strength, which translates into being expected to do all the heavy lifting especially in the absence of lifting aids, and if you are the only male on shift.

Nursing is a rewarding and challenging career for people of either gender. Men enter the world of nursing for the same reasons as women: they want to be an instrument of care and they like the complexity of the job with the possibility of earning a decent income.

As the demand for male nurses continue to rise, we can look forward to the day when “male nurse” would be a long-forgotten term.

Also Read: 10 Incredible Facts You Didn’t Know About Male Nurses

Learn How to Become a Nurse

EHRs have been a long-time coming. More than 15 years ago, President George Bush outlined a plan where most Americans would have an EHR by 2014. During President Barack Obama’s presidency, $30 billion was allotted as stimulus funds to help hospitals implement EHRs.

A robust health information system offers several benefits:

  • EHRs can be viewed by patients and providers in different locations.
  • Reminders can be set for follow-up tests which lessen the chance for error.
  • Information from medical devices can be automatically transferred to EHRs instead of by hand.
  • Medical prescriptions are clearer to read and understand.
  • Electronic health records can be used to analyze data about certain conditions, medications, and outcomes. This can lead to changes in health care.

Many healthcare facilities are also using mobile devices to collect information and communicate with patients.

In the 2017 HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey, 70.6% of respondents said at least some of the information on a mobile device is uploaded to EHRs.

As with any new technology, there is a learning curve. While today’s nursing programs teach students about technology, you may find you’ll need additional on-the-job training once you become a nurse. During your clinical time, learn as much as you can about emerging technology.

Other Technologies Affecting Nursing

Medicine and technology are moving fast and nurses will be required to keep up. As you embark on a nursing career, you’ll need to be prepared for some of the latest innovations in the field.

Genetics | Gene mutations can predict whether a patient is at risk of developing a disease. The use of genetics and genomes can also help identify whether a parent will pass along a mutation to their child. Since nurses often have the most communication with patients, it’s their job to gather as much information about family history and provide guidance to patients based on test results.

Biometrics | Proper healthcare can’t exist without confidentiality and security, which is why biometrics is so important in today’s fast-paced health care environment. Biometrics is the scientific method used to identify people using fingerprints, voice, or other physical qualities. In today’s world, many medical facilities use fingerprints to identify a healthcare provider. As a nurse, you will be given access to the necessary patient information that allows you to do your job. Flipping through a patient’s folder to find what you need? Those days are numbered.

Social Media | The use of social media in nursing has benefits and drawbacks. It can provide networking opportunities and an easier way to communicate with fellow students or colleagues. A quick scan of Facebook and Pinterest will also show you that nurses use social media for support and levity.

There can be a dark side to social media, however. Nurses must be careful not to post disparaging remarks or information that violates a patient’s privacy. The American Nurses Association recognized social media’s role in nursing in 2011 with its Principles for Social Networking and the Nurse: Guidance for the Registered Nurse.

Nurses and nursing students are encouraged to use this resource to equip themselves with the do’s and don’ts of social media.

Highlights in Nursing History

Here are a few moments in history that helped shaped the nursing profession.

1900 › The first issue of the American Journal of Nursing was distributed.

1902 › Linda L. Rogers becomes the first school nurse.

1913 › The War Department accepts the Red Cross enrollment as a reserve for the Army Nurse Corps and Navy Nurse Corps.

1921 › The first class (512 student nurses) graduates from the Army School of Nursing.

1934 › The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses establishes its New York City headquarters.

1940 › American Nurses Association forms a section for male nurses.

1945 › ANA collects uniforms and clothing for nurses in war-torn countries.

1952 › ANA dues increase from $3 to $5.

1967 › It’s estimated there are 640,000 practicing RNs.

1973 › The number of RNs jumps to 815,000.

1987 › AIDS treatment and testing programs and community-based health services are recommended by ANA.

1995 › 25,000 nurses from across the country protest nurse cutbacks and improper use of unlicensed personnel.

2001 › Nurses play an instrumental role at hospitals in the wake of September 11. Many volunteer to help with rescue efforts.

2014 › “Nurses Leading the Way” is the theme of National Nurses Week.

*Salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

5 Reasons Why Nursing Is a Great Career for Men

3 years ago

Nursing in the U.S. is historically a female-dominated field. While a growing number of men have been making the decision to become a nurse, a slight stigma about men in nursing still, unfortunately, persists.

At Ameritech, we believe that nursing is a field open to all and that more men should feel encouraged to join the profession. Here are five reasons why deciding to become a nurse is a great move for guys.

1. Nursing is an in-demand career.

Nursing is a growing industry. According to the most recent forecasts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics nursing is set to grow by 16 percent between 2014 and 2024. Job prospects and outlook for pay are both promising.

According to the BLS, the national median wages for RNs is $67,490 annually, with many nurses making more than that. Men who become RNs can rest assured that they’re joining a dynamic profession on the upswing. Nursing isn’t settling; it’s striving.

Related resource: 6 Reasons Men Should Consider a Career in Nursing

2. Men have always been nurses.

You might think that men in nursing is a new trend, but there’s a rich world history of men as nurses.

In ancient Rome, front-line caregivers known as “nosocomi” were often male. In more recent history, male battlefield nurses in the American Civil War outnumbered female ones. The founder of the International Red Cross and Nobel laureate, Jean Henry Dunant, worked as a nurse in his early life, though many online biographies of Dunant characterize his nursing as “aide work” or “medical assistance.” But, the fact remains that there’s a long history of men providing care that we now identify with nurses and call nursing.

That changed in the last century when men were discouraged and sometimes even banned from nursing. But, times are changing again. As a man in nursing, you’ll be carrying on a rich history that goes all the way back to the ancient world, and is all too often forgotten.

Related resource: The 3 Things You Should Never Stop Learning as a Nurse

3. Male patients will appreciate you.

Often when patients are seeing a nurse they’re not at their best. Physical and emotional discomfort can be the order of the day, and some men might not want to appear vulnerable in front of a female caregiver. They might feel more comfortable and more at ease in the presence of another man.

Ideally, of course, every nurse could treat every patient regardless of gender, but dealing with human frailty and insecurities is simply a fact of life for healthcare workers. It’s likely that some men in nursing can make some patient experiences better just by being who they are.

Related resource: Things Nobody Tell You About Being a Nurse

4. You’ll be able to choose between several specialties.

Nursing is a vast field. By joining it, you have access to several different types of jobs and career paths, and there’s almost certainly one that will suit you. If you like kids, you can go into pediatric nursing. If you work well under pressure, consider working in an ER. Want to get really technical? Become a nurse anesthetist.

The world of nursing holds many possibilities. One thing all of those fields have in common, though, is their lack of nurses who are men.

Related resource: The 7 Highest-Paying Nursing Specialties

5. You’ll help shatter a stereotype.

Unfortunately, a stigma still persists attached to men becoming nurses. If there wasn’t, we wouldn’t have written a call to action like this one. It doesn’t help clinics or hospitals hire better people or provide better healthcare. The only thing it does is keep talented people from joining a noble field.

If we’re going to wear that misperception down, then men need to answer their call to be nurses. As more men join the profession, they’ll help erode that stereotype, and hopefully the bias will become a thing of the past. If you’re a man and you want to become a nurse, you can do it. Just by being who you are, you’ll send the message that anyone can become a healthcare worker, that everyone is capable of caring, and that service to others is an honorable pursuit regardless of gender.

At Ameritech, we foster an environment of higher learning and curiosity. Ameritech strives to set its students up for success by giving them all the tools they need to enter the job market as prepared as possible. To learn more about our nursing, RN–BSN, or other programs, visit our program pages or follow us on Facebook.

What’s It Like to Be a Male Nurse?

Men have been part of the nursing profession throughout the history of nursing, but American culture still considers men such a rarity in the field that “male nurse” is often worthy of a chuckle, if not outright insult. But as the healthcare field grows, making strength out of its diversity (nursing has always been one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse professional fields), so too does gender diversity increase. Male nurses still make up only around 10% of nurses, but the role of men in nursing is changing – and nursing is changing with it. There are all sorts of jobs in nursing, and men are taking on many of them.

What Are Some Challenges Faced by Male Nurses?

One of the main challenges male nurses face is the unfair stigmas attached to men who take up the call and duty of a nurse. These stigmas didn’t always exist, but fluctuations in history have created a present where men who want to help others as a nurse practitioner can often face male nurses discrimination and other unfair practices.

The nursing field is a necessary and rewarding one. Many men want to take on the challenges that come with nursing, but they must also face male nursing stereotypes. Some even wonder can a male be a nurse or what a male nurse is called, as if the term itself cannot apply to men.

Yes, male nurses discrimination exists and male nursing stereotypes persist, but things are slowly changing. Most of the nurse field consists of women, but for those who wonder can a male be a nurse; the answer is a resounding yes.

A male nurse is a nurse, and nothing will change that. Any other term can come off as disrespectful to those who practice nursing for a living. The word nurse isn’t gender-specific. (In fact, some of our favorite TV nurses are men!)

Do Men Have an Advantage as Nurses?

As with many other occupations, there’s no appreciable difference between an equally skilled male or female nurse. However, a look at any male vs female nurses statistics will paint an odd picture.

The biggest thing someone might notice is that despite the gender inequality in nursing, the advantages of male nurses have to do with male nursing salaries. Male nurse salary vs female shows the gender pay gap in nursing reflects the national gender pay gap that favors men.

Male vs female nurses statistics show that women make up almost 90% of skilled nursing, yet male nurse salary vs female sits very much in favor of men. The pay disparity exists because of various reasons, including the perception that hospitals need to pay men more to attract male nurses – that men will not work for the same pay as women, in other words. The relative scarcity of men in nursing also prompts employers to pay them more, as their rarity is perceived as adding to their value.

Nevertheless, the need for more nurses in general and more male nurses specifically, is creating several changes. The more men who take up nursing practices, the closer the industry gets to smoothing out all the wrinkles. In fact, there are a number of scholarships for men in nursing to encourage more men to enter the field. Men may also have some advantage in nursing school admissions, simply because there is little competition from other men.

Men do have a few advantages when it comes to nursing, but they’re mostly of a personal nature. For example, just being a male nurse can create conversation and talking points with patients, and make some patients more comfortable; some men, for instance, will be more honest and vulnerable about their pain or illness with a male nurse than with women. In places where male nursing isn’t prevalent, which is most places, a proud male nurse can garner a lot of respect.

Is there Any Such Thing as “Male Nursing Jobs”?

Despite everything else, there is a place for men in nursing and a need for men as well. People recognize the importance of male nurses. Many people would prefer a male nurse for various reasons. Some people will even request a male nurse for themselves specifically. While there are no male nursing jobs, there are plenty of nursing jobs.

Remember, a nurse is a nurse, despite gender. There is nothing in the job description of an RN or pediatric nurse that implies they must be women. Male nursing jobs aren’t a thing, but nursing jobs that can benefit from having more men do exist. People like representation and men bring a male perspective to the field that many patients want and ask for. A patient may want a male nurse because they believe a male nurse may have a stronger, more personal understanding of male healthcare needs. In other cases, male nurses are valued for their literal strength, moving immobile patients more easily.

Even though nursing jobs are gender neutral, men joining the nursing profession can help to improve salary and workplace equality for everybody. The demand is high, and the general acceptance of male nurses is growing as well. The more men in the field, the faster the stigmas will go away so everyone can focus on providing excellent care. Many men in nursing report loving their occupation, so that’s something to consider as well.

Other Resources:

Male nurses might be interested in Nursing Podcasts and Nursing Blogs that are created by male nurses, with the special concerns of male nurses in mind.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Like any other healthcare position, being a male travel nurse definitely has its pros and cons! Today, you’re going to get an honest, upfront perspective on what the pros and cons of being a male nurse are. You’ll hear about the good parts, and the bad parts, too. So, if you’re thinking about becoming a male nurse, you can now make an informed decision whether or not this is the job for you.

The Stigma

Being a male nurse somehow became seriously stigmatized, since most nurses are women. Many question the motives of male nurses for entering the profession. But thanks to AAMN, an organization which promotes and spreads awareness about men in nursing, and a handful of other male nurse activists who do the same, it is becoming increasingly more acceptable for men to become nurses. And, just by the way, the reason why men become nurses is because they want a well-paying career which involves caring for and helping other people.

Lots of Lifting

Male nurses are often asked for help with lifting heavy patients when man-power is needed. Some guys don’t mind this at all, but others find it pretty annoying to be called for lifting nearly every heavy patient in the ward.

Misperceptions

Male nurses are often thought to be the doctor or the janitor. Many male nurses have experienced coming into a patient’s room, for the patient to immediately murmur into the phone, “I have to go, the doctor just came in.” This can get pretty awkward at times.

Searching for Scrubs

Most scrub stores cater to women. They have pictures of women on their front page banner, and they offer much more products for female healthcare professionals than for male ones. Happily, this problem has been alleviated partially by one online scrubs store, Murse World, which focuses exclusively on guys and carries only men’s scrub apparel.

Now, let’s get on to the benefits of being a male nurse!

Better Salary Than Female Nurses

As in many fields, male nurses are better paid than their female counterparts. They often earn between $5,000 and $10,000 more per year than female nurses! You’ve got to admit that’s a pretty significant amount.

Easier Job Search

Since women dominate the nursing field, hospitals and other healthcare facilities will be much quicker to hire a man over a woman (with the same skills). The same often goes for nursing schools; guys can have an easier time getting in than girls since there are so much fewer of them.

Male Patients

People often focus on the fact that women sometimes don’t want a male nurse, but they forget that it goes both ways. Most men prefer having a male nurse over a female one. And, since there are so many more female nurses than male ones, it’s much harder for a man to get a male nurse. So when he does, he is generally very appreciative.

Positivity & Levelheadedness

Having male nurses balances things out, and tends to make the unit more low key, which is a good thing. As Nicholas Germinario puts it, “As a male nurse, I add a great balance to the unit’s morale. When the estrogen levels are high, I enter with a calm and fun attitude. Not only am I frequently helping to boost patients (because they “need someone strong”), but I also boost positivity!!” It’s a fulfilling feeling to know you’re making a difference in the unit just by being there.

Promotion

Male nurses are promoted more quickly, due to the “glass escalator” phenomenon. Since promotions often come along with raises, this may be one of the reasons why male nurses are paid more!

Making Your Decision

So, now you’re probably wondering, if there are so many benefits to being a man in nursing, why aren’t more men becoming nurses? I’d say it’s mostly due to the first con we mentioned, about the stigma. But if you’re interested in becoming a nurse, and you’re not one to get overly hung up on what others may think, then go for it!

Honestly, there seem to be more pros than cons when it comes to this profession. Being a male nurse has nearly all the benefits being a female nurse affords, plus a couple more. And men are finally beginning to recognize that. Today, over 13% of nurses are men, and the numbers of male nurses are growing. Men are finally beginning to realize that nursing is a respectable, worthwhile and fulfilling profession for anyone! So, what do you think about becoming a male nurse?

Men in Nursing Reveal What It’s Really Like Working in a Female-Dominated Field

It’s no secret that the nursing field has traditionally been the domain of women. But lately attitudes have changed, and more and more men are joining the nursing workforce. In fact, the proportion of male registered nurses has more than tripled, growing from 2.7 percent in 1970 to 9.6 percent, as of 2013. The amount of men working as LPNs and LVNs has more than doubled as well—from 1.8 percent in 1970 to 4.3 percent in 2013.*

With this information, you’re probably wondering: Why are more men being drawn to this still-female-dominated profession? Are there any unique challenges or benefits that come with being a male nurse?

To help answer that, we’ve enlisted several men in nursing to share their experiences—and while there may be some small differences, their overall experiences as male nurses have been overwhelmingly positive.

“I only wish I went into nursing for my first career,” says Matt Thomson of The RN Mentor and an ICU nurse.

Keep reading to hear what more men have to say about their experiences in the nursing field, as well as any advice they have to the future generation of men in nursing.

Why should men consider becoming nurses?

The short answer is this: The nursing field benefits from diversity. Men in the field are able to provide a different perspective and help make some patients feel more comfortable. People from all walks of life and backgrounds need nursing care, and ideally, the people administering that care are essentially a mirror of the people they serve.

So what drew these male nurses to the field? One of the most appealing draws to becoming a nurse—having the opportunity to make a difference with patients in a one-on-one setting—is universal and knows no gender boundaries. This ability to help people on a personal level caught the attention of Luis Enrique Ceniceros, RN-BSN. Ceniceros first started in healthcare as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), and was inspired by his nurse coworkers. He says in that role, he saw how the “Smallest action of kindness, love and care could completely change outlook for the rest of the day.”

Raymond Leal, another RN-BSN, says his motivations for choosing nursing were similar—he always loved working with people and wanted to continue to work closely with those in need.

Thomson says he knew he wanted to go into the health sciences field in some capacity, and was especially drawn to the flexible schedule that nursing provides. That flexible scheduling allowed Thomson and his wife–who is also a nurse–to work three (long) days per week and then go on trips to explore the world. After having a child, they have used their flexible schedule to spend time at home. But it’s not just the flexibility that kept Thomson feeling fulfilled. He says he appreciates being able to help patients through what is often one of their worst days, while also being rewarded with a lifestyle he enjoys.

Others nurses were drawn to the challenging nature of the work itself. Nick Angelis, CRNA and author of How to Succeed in Anesthesia School (And RN, PA, or Med School) liked subjects like Communications and Science and found that Nursing offered an intriguing blend of both.

Nursing career advice for men, from men

You’re probably wondering if your career will be more difficult as a male nurse. The good news is that navigating a nursing career is, for the most part, pretty uniform. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t gender-specific situations that you may need help with.

For one, be aware that there are gender-specific stereotypes the men in nursing may encounter. Angelis found that sometimes patients or other hospital staff assumed that he was less empathetic than he actually was—and that can be a frustrating assumption. Showing true empathy for patients is a virtue for all nurses, so don’t be afraid to show it.

Additionally, Angelis also found that increased diversity can lead to increased miscommunication. Sometimes, this may mean working on being more emphatic, direct or gentle. This self-improvement may mean having a conversation with a supervisor, or realizing that you may need to speak and act in a different manner around others.

Wali Kahn, an intensive care unit RN-BSN, estimated that his nursing colleagues were 90 percent women and 10 percent men, and emphasized that not only do men and women operate differently, but also that the differences can be even more evident in group settings. Women tend to care about certain subjects or issues more than men, and, while working in a group of women, Khan has learned to be sensitive to this. He found that he has carried a “Different level of ethics and respect” while working in a setting with a women’s majority that he doesn’t think he would possess if he were working primarily with men. This has helped him be more conscious of respecting those individuals in leadership.

Leal also mentioned that future male nurses need to remember not to take everything personally. Some tasks require getting in a patient’s personal space and some patients may prefer to request a female nurse. When this happened early on in his career, Leal felt like his professional integrity was being questioned, but he has grown to have a better understanding of patient’s concerns and comfort level. Patient preference can go both ways, too. Ceniceros says he’ll occasionally be asked to work with patients who are unruly toward his female colleagues. Patients’ concerns might not always be rational—but having the option of seeing a male nurse can help for some.

Should this even be a conversation?

Many men in nursing are frequently asked why they aren’t doctors, pharmacists, physician’s assistants or anything other than a nurse. Angelis has learned to be confident in his career path. “You don’t have to excuse your decision to others or have a PowerPoint prepared on why you didn’t want to be a pharmacist or physician.” Even though questions like that can get annoying, some male nurses find the rationalization about men in the nursing field even more unnecessary.

Kahn has worried about how the very existence of this cultural conversation could affect younger generations of men thinking about nursing careers. Don’t worry about what other people will think about your decision, he says. Consider instead how you might fit into the profession based on your drive and skills.

“Don’t be intimidated. Dive in. You won’t regret it,” says Thomson.

What makes nursing worth it?

No matter your background, the nursing field needs smart and capable leaders. If you can provide that, then you’ll be welcomed with open arms. So does pursuing a nursing career sound worth it to you? There’s plenty to ponder before making that decision, but Leal points to a recent experience with a patient who had a brain injury—the patient recently made a follow-up visit to show the staff all of the progress he had made and to thank them for everything they did during his stay. While the staff might see it as just doing their jobs, Leal says that single experience has made “Every bad shift he’d ever had worth it.”

Regardless of your gender, don’t be afraid to follow your passion for making a difference through nursing. Your unique perspective can add a layer of depth to your team, and nursing gives you the tools to make a difference every day—often with a uniquely flexible schedule. Looking for more nursing career inspiration? Check out our article, “The Best Day on the Job: 4 Nursing Stories That Prove It’s All Worth It.”

The top 10 things nurses wish it were IMPOSSIBLE for patients to do!


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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