Ramblings of a Male Nurse (Yes I’m a Murse)

lprc060402

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. Raised Eyebrow

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. 

IMG00088 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?

Do you?

Carpe Diem

Advertisements

31 thoughts on “Ramblings of a Male Nurse (Yes I’m a Murse)

  1. Sean
    Welcome to the Battle! I’ve been confronting these issues/statements/prejudices as a male in nursing for thirty years – sadly, things have changed little in that time!

    Gender bias is alive and well in the profession and public sectors. I’ve cancelled subscriptions/memberships, contacted nursing leaders, written letters to ‘the editor’, etc…but it continues even with the dramatic increase of males entering nursing and the ‘push’ by the various nursing organizations (window dressing only) to recruit more men to the profession.

    I attended a national conference two years ago – new attendees were provided ribbons to wear….PINK! When I confronted the President, I got a form letter thanking me for concerns and telling me change ‘would take time’. Do you know what her keynote speech was the following year?…Diversity.

    The battle continues…

    1. @ Lavoy Thanks for visiting my blog and the comment. I agree. It’s a double edged sword and I’m diving into the battle head first.

  2. Sean
    Welcome to the Battle! I’ve been confronting these issues/statements/prejudices as a male in nursing for thirty years – sadly, things have changed little in that time!

    Gender bias is alive and well in the profession and public sectors. I’ve cancelled subscriptions/memberships, contacted nursing leaders, written letters to ‘the editor’, etc…but it continues even with the dramatic increase of males entering nursing and the ‘push’ by the various nursing organizations (window dressing only) to recruit more men to the profession.

    I attended a national conference two years ago – new attendees were provided ribbons to wear….PINK! When I confronted the President, I got a form letter thanking me for concerns and telling me change ‘would take time’. Do you know what her keynote speech was the following year?…Diversity.

    The battle continues…

    1. @ Lavoy Thanks for visiting my blog and the comment. I agree. It’s a double edged sword and I’m diving into the battle head first.

  3. Hey, just read your post… (a few months late!)

    As a fellow male nurse i FEEL YOUR PAIN!! And I concur +++++ with all of the points raised… I wanted to also add a common question (from patients) “are you in training to be a doctor?” “Do you like your job?”

    Argh!

  4. Hey, just read your post… (a few months late!)

    As a fellow male nurse i FEEL YOUR PAIN!! And I concur +++++ with all of the points raised… I wanted to also add a common question (from patients) “are you in training to be a doctor?” “Do you like your job?”

    Argh!

  5. @ Michelle How the heck are ya Diva!? I would succumb to the marketing and sales point you make. I guess I didn’t think in those terms. But I do think there can be a better balance. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. @ Michelle How the heck are ya Diva!? I would succumb to the marketing and sales point you make. I guess I didn’t think in those terms. But I do think there can be a better balance. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Welcome to the world of generalisations and issues concerning minorities VS majorities… and rightly or wrongly you will likely experience all the things that go along with this until the “norm” is changed. You ARE a minority just like say a female construction worker or perhaps a feamale fire fighter. Unfortunatley, it is gender bias, but not necessarily one done on purpose or with malice(unless you are not good at your job which really has nothing to do with gender).

    People do forget that there are those that take on careers that go against the norm (whatever the norm happens to be)… right or wrong. Not everyone reacts to be mean, but perhaps out of surpise. As far as marketing and sales of items for nurses, your numbers (male nurses) may not be substantial enough to represent a viable market… such is the way of business with regards to minorities. You just can’t please everyone. My 2 cents for what it’s worth.

  8. Welcome to the world of generalisations and issues concerning minorities VS majorities… and rightly or wrongly you will likely experience all the things that go along with this until the “norm” is changed. You ARE a minority just like say a female construction worker or perhaps a feamale fire fighter. Unfortunatley, it is gender bias, but not necessarily one done on purpose or with malice(unless you are not good at your job which really has nothing to do with gender).

    People do forget that there are those that take on careers that go against the norm (whatever the norm happens to be)… right or wrong. Not everyone reacts to be mean, but perhaps out of surpise. As far as marketing and sales of items for nurses, your numbers (male nurses) may not be substantial enough to represent a viable market… such is the way of business with regards to minorities. You just can’t please everyone. My 2 cents for what it’s worth.

  9. If it helps at all, I despise the pink and cutesy crap, too.

    In the ICU, about 40% of our RNs were men. Three out of 15 on my dialysis team are men (which is disappointing low to me).

    I’m hoping that this cutesiness and gender bias shifts in time. Yes, that’ll happen as men join the profession. But before that even happens, I think it will be more about post-feminism women joining the profession. I mean no offense to seasoned nurses, but it’s often they who find male nurses a novelty.

    I don’t find male nurses a novelty. You’re a coworker, and before I became a nurse, I worked with more men than women. Treating you like a novelty has to be as annoying to you as being a female database administrator was to me.

    Write to the magazine. Maybe they’ll get it sometime.
    /jo

  10. If it helps at all, I despise the pink and cutesy crap, too.

    In the ICU, about 40% of our RNs were men. Three out of 15 on my dialysis team are men (which is disappointing low to me).

    I’m hoping that this cutesiness and gender bias shifts in time. Yes, that’ll happen as men join the profession. But before that even happens, I think it will be more about post-feminism women joining the profession. I mean no offense to seasoned nurses, but it’s often they who find male nurses a novelty.

    I don’t find male nurses a novelty. You’re a coworker, and before I became a nurse, I worked with more men than women. Treating you like a novelty has to be as annoying to you as being a female database administrator was to me.

    Write to the magazine. Maybe they’ll get it sometime.
    /jo

  11. This feminization of nursing products/paraphernalia has always irked me to no end. That’s why you will occasionally find me making fun of “nurse tchotckes” on PixelRN.com.

    Interesting to hear your perspective. I say we need more Murses to cancel out this effect!

  12. This feminization of nursing products/paraphernalia has always irked me to no end. That’s why you will occasionally find me making fun of “nurse tchotckes” on PixelRN.com.

    Interesting to hear your perspective. I say we need more Murses to cancel out this effect!

  13. There are lots of “Murses” on the unit I work and I actually prefer them to the women, who can be catty and emotional, particularly at certain times of the month. Sometimes the murses even outnumber the nurses. We have a Male Nurse Action Figure at the nurse’s station and we rub his head for good luck… 🙂 Long live the Murse!

  14. There are lots of “Murses” on the unit I work and I actually prefer them to the women, who can be catty and emotional, particularly at certain times of the month. Sometimes the murses even outnumber the nurses. We have a Male Nurse Action Figure at the nurse’s station and we rub his head for good luck… 🙂 Long live the Murse!

  15. @ Karin Thanks for taking the time. It’s very difficult sometimes. Some don’t even realize they are doing it. I always appreciate your input. 🙂

  16. @ Karin Thanks for taking the time. It’s very difficult sometimes. Some don’t even realize they are doing it. I always appreciate your input. 🙂

  17. “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’m one of this minority.Thanks for letting me know. I guess, I was never in your place, that’s why.

    You’ve just made me look at my latest edition of Nurse’s Station. I still have the older one. Maybe they ship to Murses first.

    Seriously,maybe it’ll take a lot more years before people embrace male nursing as openly as female nursing.

    Sorry you feel this way. If it makes you feel any better, I love male nurses. They usually are the muscles in the unit, and they don’t gossip.

  18. “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’m one of this minority.Thanks for letting me know. I guess, I was never in your place, that’s why.

    You’ve just made me look at my latest edition of Nurse’s Station. I still have the older one. Maybe they ship to Murses first.

    Seriously,maybe it’ll take a lot more years before people embrace male nursing as openly as female nursing.

    Sorry you feel this way. If it makes you feel any better, I love male nurses. They usually are the muscles in the unit, and they don’t gossip.

Your thoughts....? I'd love to hear from ya!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s