The nursing profession entails giving care be it physical, biological, or psychological to those with deficiencies in society. Nurses, therefore, need to have a sincere devotion to addressing their patients with compassion. Savings lives and reducing pain are some of the major objectives of nurses. Although the first nurses were male the trend changed drastically and today nursing is a female-dominated field.
Initially, men opted as they were perceived to be intellectual, kind, and of good character and hence the best candidates. Today, although approximately 13% of males enroll in nursing schools only 5.4% end up in the nursing career a clear indication of challenges in the field. Lack of good mentorship to help the male student nurses overcome the challenges surrounding the career sees them quit.
Strong stereotypes are the major reasons behind the difficulties that male nurses face in pursuit of their dream careers. Acceptance by both the set institutions and the patients is a difficult challenge for the male nurses. The stereotypes only work to hinder the male nurses from realizing their true potential. (Evans J, 2002)
Male nurses face challenges and difficulties in the female-dominated field especially because it has been internalized in most people’s minds that nurses should be female. This prejudice sees to it that few males succeed in the profession despite there being incidences calling for the need to care for others. (Chad O and Russell T, 2006)
The media has a significant role in internalizing the perception that nursing is better done by females. It portrays the picture that female nurses offer good care for white males and the male nurses face difficulties when working. Male patients could reject male nurses’ care. The male nurses have to work harder to prove their capabilities. The situation is made worse when the nurse is from a minority group or is black.
Some nursing schools are still discriminative in terms of gender. Most nursing schools enroll females only and this contributes to the lower representation of male nurses in the field. Most administrators are women and the male’s opinions or views are not heard. Nursing organizations are also female-dominated and when male nurses try to air their grievances they cannot be well addressed. The equal representation which is lacking would be the channel to solve this issue. (www.minoritynurse.com.features).
Male nurses are discriminated against in some areas for instance the delivery wards and gynecology wards. Female head nurses could deny the male nurses from accessing the labor and delivery rooms. (www.minoritynurse.com.features). Few male nurses consequently end up being midwives. Male nurses are forced to specialize in some areas and this hinders their diversity. The thought that a man is viewing a naked woman which is unacceptable to some, shuns male nurses from those areas. Some elderly patients at times give the male nurses a hard time as they perceive them as criminals and treat them with suspicion.
Female patients at times defy being treated by males. Children are also socialized in a manner to view nurses as females. Male nurses face a great challenge while dealing with such children. Fellow female colleagues also discriminate against their male counterparts. Unfair and unequal treatment is evident for male nurses who are treated differently from female nurses. Female nurses can easily access all wards. They also have better chances in terms of job promotions and diversity. (www.nurseweek.com).
Restrictions are put in place such that male nurses are completely denied access to patients or they have to seek the patient’s consent. Female nurses care for both male and female patients while male nurses are discriminated against.
Personal views of female nurses who do not like males are taken too far when they are used to discriminate against male nurses. Fear that men involved in inappropriate behavior hinder the effective and efficient acceptance of men. In some sections, male nurses are at times forced to watch the happenings in the delivery room from the door. Nursing textbooks also portray males as patients in need of ‘female’ care.
Male nurses’ social life is also affected as most view them as inadequate. They fail to understand that whether male or female, nursing is a profession, and the skills offered are what matters. It is ironic that a patient can resist a male nurse’s care but accept a male physician’s treatment. Family members and the large society would opt for males to be doctors rather than nurses. Rejection by family members results in financial constraints for the male student nurse and unsupportive tendencies are the reason behind some students quitting.
Male nurses are portrayed as feminine especially by the media. They are also perceived to be gay which is viewed differently by different people. Close relationships with women could lead to the perception that male nurses are gay. People who hate ‘gays will resent male nurses. Male nurses are discriminated against due to their gender and they are not comfortable when treated as women. Men are also perceived to be aggressive and hence cannot meet the nursing demands which entail following orders and being responsible while offering care. (www.minoritynurse.com.features).
Chad O’Lynn and Russell Tranbarger. 2006. Men in Nursing: History, Challenges, and Opportunities. Springer Publishing Company. The book is written by nurses with inside experience in nursing and they share their experiences.
Evans Joan. 2002: Cautious caregivers: Gender stereotypes and the sexualization of men nurses’ touch. Journal of Advanced Nursing, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp. 441-448.
Joan Evans is a PhD RN. Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Vicki Chung: 2007.Men in nursing. Web.
Lisette Hilton. A few good men. Male nurses defy stereotypes and discrimination to find satisfaction in a female-dominated profession. Web.