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 nurse myself, here are some of the things that I have learned along the way.
1. Gender biases are usually all in our heads.
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.
2. Don't let patient preference get to you.
Just as some female patients refuse personal care from male nurses, some male patients refuse personal care from female nurses. Just accept that and stay positive. Always remember that being male will have no bearing on the care and comfort that you can provide.
3. 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."
4. Those awkward moments are inevitable.
Remember to be professional and focus on the task at hand of helping people get better and you will do just fine.
5. 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, male nurses are provided with the same opportunities given to female nurses.
6. Half of your patients will think that you're a doctor.
It may feel frustrating, but keep your pride as a nurse.
7. Play to your strengths.
Male 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 a valuable resource.
8. Be active.
Some nursing groups are great resources for connecting with other male nursing students/male nurses.
9. You are a nurse, not a male nurse.
Your female counterparts are not "female nurses." Just as female medical students break the gender barriers in medicine, we will continue to break the gender barriers in nursing.
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