A provocative glimpse inside the mind of a male nurse:
Is it so unnatural for a beer guzzling, baseball fanatic, deer hunting, fast car loving, woman-chasing MAN to be in this profession?
I get asked a lot of questions about why I entered into the nursing profession. I understand all the misconceptions. Yes, I get asked about my sexual orientation, and if I didn’t know any better, I would think that I am a “victim” of sexism. Would anyone in their right mind outwardly ask a woman why she chose to be a …? (Enter any profession that comes to mind here.) So why should anyone question a man for wanting to be a nurse?
I am finally ready to let you in on my reasons:
I like the respect: I gave the Army four years. Then, I suffered, yet survived, nursing school with barely any sleep, any friends or any money. I graduated. I passed the CA Nurse State Board. I gritted my teeth through the grind of clinicals. I did my time in the trenches as a new nurse grad. I have been an ICU nurse for the last thirteen years. I am about to take on the challenge of going back for my Masters. I am good at my job and I am proud of it.
I am not a suit-and-tie kind of guy: I’m a lazy dresser. I am most comfortable in jeans and a pull over shirt. I hate shopping, and I hate the thought of wearing a tie every day. How uncomfortable is that? I like wearing scrubs. I like not having to think about what I have to wear to work. I like the fact that it takes me five minutes to get dressed. Oh, and I wear comfortable shoes to work.
I like the hours: “Work hard, play hard” - this has always been my life’s motto. I don’t like banker’s hours or the typical 9-5. I like driving when there’s no one on the highway, when am scheduled the night shift, and I like getting up earlier than everyone else to start my day when I do work the day shift. I personally like working thirteen hour shifts. It gives me more time to do what I want to do when I am scheduled off. Three days on, four days off – hey, works for this guy!
I like the money: Let me be honest, I know a lot of guys out there busting their behinds doing harder labor for less than what I get paid. I’m a hard worker and I’m a good nurse. I may even get a few people to say that I am a great nurse. I earn my paycheck working in ICU. When duty calls, I am there for my shifts. When I am needed to pick up a few more hours or another shift for a co-worker who is sick or has to take care of her kids, I am there. Do I get paid more for the overtime? Yes. Do I get paid for shift differentials? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.
I like feeling like a hero: My grandfather died of colon cancer in 1993. He was my hero. In his final months, it wasn’t his doctor who was there for him (no offense to my doctor friends), it was his nurse. It was she who was strong enough to see through the awkward and embarrassing moments, through the uncomfortable hours, through his excruciating pain. Through it all, she had a steely resolve to help him through it and to comfort him. He told me that SHE was his hero.
I consider it my chosen “civic duty”: Ask any fire fighter, cop or soldier what makes them do what they do. There is one common denominator; to make a difference in someone’s life: to protect, to save, to help or to heal. Being a nurse is no different.
Last but not least, I like my chances with the ladies:
Sue me. I am in a profession that is 90% female. If someone needs help turning/lifting a patient, allow me. In my scrubs and outside of work, I am sometimes mistaken for a doctor. Let me tell you, I use it in my favor… sometimes. Brains and brawn can only get me so far. I also have my boyish smile, my caring nature, and a great profession with endless possibilities. I know I am a catch. Is it wrong to want to add my phone number here?
So, my reasons may not always be “honorable”, but I challenge anyone to contest my commitment to my profession. Men have a long way to go to gain the respect of ALL our female counterparts, the rest of the healthcare profession and the public in general, but as the old saying goes, “We’ve come a long way, baby!” - I’ll hold off on the high fives and the butt slaps.
Jake S., RN, NurseTogether contributor
Do you have any advice for men who are looking to enter into the nursing profession? Please leave us a comment sharing your experiences!
Nurses, please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on this article!