I knew when I chose to enter the nursing world there were going to be certain ‘challenges’ as a male in a predominantly female populated career.
I got teased by fellow colleagues from my former career that I became a Murse (Male-Nurse).
During nursing school I can remember instances where male patients wanted to know where my skirt was? Or asked what shade of lipstick do I wear? I was asked by the female patients why I’m not a doctor? While other female patients refused to be cared for by a male nurse.
I got tired of being asked are you a male nurse? – Right in front of my ‘female’ nursing school classmates.
No. I’m a nurse. (I silently would ask myself, “Gee, do they ask doctor’s – Are you a female doctor?)
It’s been a couple years now. Most of the ‘comments’ have dissipated.
I attribute the vanishing comments to my chosen nursing specialty – Critical Care. An area of nursing that has a heavier dose of the male population. Mostly due to the nature of the specialty. Most males have that adrenaline-junky personality. So we somehow always lean towards Critical Care, or Emergency Medicine.
There are still the occasional ‘under-the-breath’ comments from patients, and patient’s family members, but for the most part I’m seen as simply ‘the nurse’.
Now I don’t claim to know the first thing about, or have any sense of how social inequalities of a given gender, race or creed may feel. I however do know how it feels to walk in another gender’s shadow. I do know how it feels to not be taken seriously in your profession simply because you don’t fit the socially acceptable norm.
The majority of nurses I speak to and interact with (the female nurses), don’t have a decent understanding of how ‘interesting’ it can be to be a male nurse.
I’ve gotten the standard rebuttal (that infuriates me) – well at least you’re around to help lift patients. Or the colloquial – at least you don’t get sexually harassed- response.
I’m here to tell you that most of us (male nurses) really hate being ‘that nurse’. We hate our nursing skills and knowledge being reduced to an act of labor.
I only rant and rave about this subject today because I received my latest issue of NURSES Station in the mail today. As I leafed through the pages of this magazine geared towards the nursing profession, I couldn’t help but notice how gender-biased the products and the magazine itself were.
Have you ever looked through a magazine shopping for nursing profession paraphernalia? Maybe looking for a cool pin. Or something to complement your desk at work. Maybe a keepsake that reminds you how proud you are to be a nurse.
Ever notice how ‘feminine’ the products are? I’m not just talking about the scrubs, or the clogs, or even the bags/purses. Have you looked at the other products? Like the T-shirts? Or the lapel pins? Or the badge holders? Maybe the set of pens? Or the coffee mugs? How about the keepsake plaques and books? And with the coming season(s), did you look for any new ornaments?
What was the main theme color scheme? I’ll bet you saw a lot of purple and pinks, or maybe red and whites?
Did you happen to notice the little nursing icon? What is a female with mid-shoulder length hair? And did she have on her traditional nursing cap? (Which we all STILL wear right?)
When was the last time there was a nursing icon with a male nurse? And if you’ve perused the catalogs before, you know there are A LOT of different types of icons. Some are life-like. Some are picturesque. There are satirical cartoons as well as metamorphic-like animal caricatures, all of which represent the ‘traditional’ female nurse.
The next time your shopping for ANYTHING related to nursing, irregardless of where you shop, let me know how often you see my common list.
Am I wrong to think and feel like this? Am I being hypocritical? Am I being obtuse?
Or maybe I just don’t get it?