Some men shy away from the nursing field because of the perception that nursing is a female-dominated field. But, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, “the proportion of male registered nurses has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7 percent to 9.6 percent, and the proportion of male licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses has more than doubled from 3.9 percent to 8.1 percent.” As a male nursing student myself, here are some of the things that I have learned along the way.
- Gender biases are usually all in our heads. During your clinical, approach every patient — whether male or female — with confidence. Unless it’s a cultural consideration or requested by the patient, you’ll find that most patients are accepting of male nurses.
- Don’t let patient preference get to you. Just as some female patients refuse personal care from male nursing students, some male patients refuse personal care from female nursing students. Just accept that and stay positive. Always remember that being male will have no bearing on the care and comfort that you can provide.
- Thou Shall Not Fear OB/Maternity. You will have opportunities to observe live births, c-sections and do cervical exams. As long as you’re polite and provide good nursing care, you will be “A-ok.”
- Those awkward moments in class or clinical are inevitable. Remember to be professional and focus on the task at hand of helping people get better and you will do just fine.
- Myth…. The concept that we must work harder to prove that we can be just as competent as our female counterparts is a myth. Have no fear, nursing school faculty provide male nursing students with the same opportunities given to female student nurses in the program.
- Half of your patients will think that you’re a doctor. It may feel frustrating, but keep your pride as a nurse.
- Play to your strengths. Male student nurses are expected to be stronger and thus often called on to help lift heavy patients. This attribute can work in your favor; consider yourself as a valuable resource.
- Be active. Some nursing groups, such as The Brotherhood of Nursing, the American Assembly for Men in Nursing and the National Student Nursing Association are great resources for connecting with other nursing students.
- You are studying to be a nurse, not a male nurse. Your female classmates are not studying to be “female nurses.” Just as female medical students break the gender barriers in medicine, we will continue to break the gender barriers in nursing.
Are you a male nurse? Comment your tips below!