Nursing is a field where things like race, gender or age don’t matter. The life of a male nurse of Indian origin in England/Ireland is similar to any other nurse, whether male or female. As a nurse, you get to work with people and help them get better, which is a great feeling. I work with a male Indian nurse, and I can say that he has no problem blending in. He works as hard as other nurses, no cutting slack. And, since the Indian population is high in the area, patients from Indian origin feel more comfortable with him. The only difference appears when female nurses like us ask his help for heavy lifting, which is obvious.
I am a male nurse with a Doctorate Degree (Doctor of Nursing Practice). Many times, when I see my patients, I introduce my self this way: “Good morning, Ms. ___, My name is Dr. Levine, and I am your nurse today”. it sounds funny but its true. I will then proceed to explain that I have a doctorate degree in nursing. My patient and any of her family members around would feel elated and proud. Every time.
I have never been looked down upon as a male nurse by anybody – patients, physicians, nor colleagues. The least that could happen is to welcome me being a male nurse in a female dominated profession. Heck, in this profession, they need more male nurses and the female counterparts are waiting. If people look down on a male nurse or any nurse for that matter, it is largely due to something they are or do that is below that expectation. A nurse is a professional healthcare worker who could potentially save anyone at work or anywhere. And they don’t have to wear their badge saying “RN” all the time. A nurse’s integrity could reach up to the third heavens and it is what matters most. It surpasses gender.
Of course, I have heard of male nurses looking down upon just because people think they should be medical doctors rather than nurses. But that is 12th-century thinking and its fading so fast. If I want to be a physician, I would go to med school. I chose to be a nurse. And now with a doctorate title. Notice I said, physician to refer to medical doctors.
When people look down on you just because you are a male nurse, remember these:
- You are a nurse first, from the core of your being. (Passion and strength). No one else can do what you can do.
- You came out from a rigorous training of caring and saving peoples’ lives. That transcends beyond gender issues.
- Put the situation in context. What was the surrounding issue why you were looked down upon as a male nurse? Address that issue. Start with why.
The next time you feel being looked down upon as a male nurse, it is your second-half sweet spot to carry out your mission. They might need help and it is for you to identify that need and be the answer.
A different way of looking into it
Nursing in a modern hospital rarely involves wiping away the tears of children suffering from tummy aches. I never understood why nursing became the stereotypical “women’s” profession, while doctoring was deemed more appropriate for men. Gender roles shouldn’t matter, regardless, but people ought to know that there is nothing dainty or “ladylike” about modern nursing.
1. Nursing is a dirty job.
Any body fluid that can potentially seep out of any orifice can and will do so for some of your patients. The smells and sights are not for wusses. Nursing should be featured on the Discovery Channel show, along with the other rugged professions, such as “Owl Vomit Collector,” “Geoduck farmer,” and “Turkey Inseminator.” Below is a wound vac that was placed for Fournier’s gangrene. Trust me when I say that I picked one of the “less gross” pictures available on the internet:
2. Labour intensive.
Nursing requires a lot of manual and skilled physical labor. If you cannot follow the instructions to put together a Kupang or Nordli dresser from the big blue and yellow store, you will not be capable of becoming a nurse. There are many multi-step procedures that nurses must be capable of competently executing from memory, such as placing a Foley catheter, inserting a nasogastric tube, managing a tracheostomy, and dealing with all kinds of vascular access lines.
3. Visualization Problem.
Nursing requires a lot of math, as well as an understanding of complex visual data. When a patient with atrial fibrillations or AV nodal block is placed on a telemetry monitor overnight, the doctors are not sitting there watching for cardiac rhythm changes. We are relying on nurses to provide us with this information, and for us to respond accordingly. Dosing of medications is initiated by the MD and the pharmacist, but nurses are not passive administrators of orders and play a crucial role in preventing medication errors or reminding us of contraindications. Recognizing dosing errors involve an understanding of renal or liver function, urinary output, left ventricular ejection fraction on the echocardiogram, and many other attributes of a patient. A good nurse will remind a doctor “Are you sure you want to give him a liter of IV fluid? His LVEF is only 30%.” ICU and step-down nurses have to understand the complexities of myriad possible ventilation settings.
4. Nursing is stressful.
No offense to stock brokers, but making a bad trade pales in comparison to having a patient go into DIC, in which he or she is both bleeding and clotting all over simultaneously (yes, this is a thing), the blood pressure is tanking, a code blue is imminent, and the family is yelling about what is going on. The onus falls on both the nurses and the doctors to deal with the emergency medical and personal interaction aspects of the event, and to complete their duties quickly, competently, and calmly.