What’s it like being a male nurse?


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As more and more men are gravitating towards nursing, this is becoming less and less of a hot topic. Nevertheless, some people still seem to have a few questions, so let’s get into it.

The Numbers

Before I dive into some of the fun questions, I’d just like to start by stating demographics. As of 2008 men accounted for about 6.6% of all nurses. Looking more recently, that number increased to about 9.6% as of 2011.

Looking at current statistics for nursing students, men are reported as high as 15% of all nursing students, indicating a continuous increasing trend of these demographics.

TL;DR Male nurses are becoming more and more common.

What does it feel like being the minority?

It may have been different way back when I first started nursing school simply because up until that point I was used to classes that were closer to a 50/50 split of men and women.

It definitely wasn’t an unpleasant change being surrounded by about 60 women and only 5 guys, but sure, I noticed it.

As time progressed I focused less and less on it, and for years I haven’t even thought about it to be honest. I definitely don’t feel like a unicorn if that’s what you’re thinking.

TL;DR It’s just normal now.

Are patients weird about male nurses?

Of course, you’ll occasionally get the elderly female patient who prefers a female nurse, or perhaps women with a traumatic history including an abusive man, in which case it’s probably best to assign a female nurse.

That being said, most patients don’t seem to care much either way and if they do, they don’t verbalize it.

TL;DR For the most part, no.

Is it awkward?

There are awkward situations that everyone will experience. Most nurses have probably become desensitized to these situations with experience, and we think of them as necessary parts of the job.

I don’t think anyone particularly loves cleaning people up, looking at elderly naked people, and doing the “unpleasant” tasks associated with caring for a hospitalized patient, but it needs to be done so we do it for the benefit of our patients.

But is it worse for men? No, I’m sure it’s just as awkward as it is for women in nursing.

TL;DR Not really.

How do your female colleagues feel about male nurses?

All the female nurses I’ve worked with have told me that they love working with male nurses. In certain situations we can really come in handy… think moving heavy patients, and showing up to code atlases.

They also mention that we bring a different perspective to the table, which can be refreshing.

Plus, sometimes patients are assholes to women, sexually aggressive, creepy, etc. For these cases, assigning a male nurse can be a real lifesaver.

TL;DR They love it.

Does it bother you being called a nurse?

I was once asked by a patient if I was bothered by the job title, “nurse.” I was confused and asked what he meant by that, and he said, “Don’t you think it should be changed to something else?”

I attempted to answer without sounding pompous and basically stated that the word nurse really has nothing to do with gender. It’s simply the association with women due to demographics.

TL;DR No, it doesn’t.

Do people assume you’re gay because you’re a nurse?

Haha, I think that if that’s happening, it’s not because you’re a nurse. I assume most of us are probably regular heterosexual guys, and we don’t act differently because we’re nurses.

Are there gay male nurses? Of course, there are. Are there gay men in every other profession out there? Why yes, there are.

A person’s profession is not an indicator of their sexual preference.

TL;DR Never.

Do you like being a male nurse?

I think people should focus less on the male aspect, and just ask if you like being a nurse because that’s the real question.

So this is pretty much another article altogether, but briefly, it’s a career with great job security, plentiful and diverse career paths, opportunities for advancement, decent salaries, etc.

There aren’t a ton of jobs that will have you constantly learning new things, all the while helping people and saving lives. It’s pretty awesome.

TL;DR Yes.