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Men proud to take place in nursing field

 

joelong resized 600

Written by Sarah Okeson

Joe Long first thought of becoming a nurse when his wife was hospitalized for a week during her pregnancy with their second child. He now works at Mercy Hospital Springfield, taking care of patients in the intensive care unit.

“Nursing is manly,” Long said. “It’s not just for women.”

About 6.6 percent of nurses nationwide are male, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. In Springfield, about 7.3 percent of nurses at CoxHealth are male. At Mercy, about 11.4 percent of the nurses are male.

The American Assembly of Men in Nursing was formed in 1971 in Michigan to provide support for male nurses. An Ozarks chapter is being started. There are also chapters in St. Louis and Kansas City. The organization also is open to women.

“It’s a very female-oriented world and we’re OK with that, but men still need to socialize,” said Paul Pope, the chapter president and a nursing instructor at Southwest Baptist University.

The executive director of nursing at Mercy Hospital Springfield is a male nurse, Kurtis Abbey.

Nurses like him have faced some of the obstacles that women entering predominantly male fields have faced. There have been lawsuits and complaints about isolation.

Rick Leroux, a nursing instructor at Southwest Baptist, got into nursing with the encouragement of his aunt. He learned how to make chitchat with children and to be absolutely honest about whether a medical procedure would hurt.

He treasures moments such as an encounter with the adult daughter of a man he had cared for who had a heart attack. She hugged Leroux and thanked him.

“Those are the moments we live for,” Leroux said.

Female employees at Mercy said they appreciate male nurses when it comes to lifting patients. They also value other qualities such as help in dealing with sometimes-disruptive families.

“We have a lot of difficult patients,” said Becky Pierce, who has worked at Mercy for about 40 years. “For each difficult patient, you have family members who sometimes need the physical presence of a man.”

Dr. Tobey Cronnell said male nurses tend to be more supportive of female doctors.

“I particularly enjoy working with male nurses as a female physician,” Cronnell said.

Long recently tended to John Goar, 73, who was admitted to Mercy Hospital Springfield after having trouble breathing.

Long gave him insulin and some other medication and then told Goar that his relatives were on their way to visit.

“He’s as good as a woman,” Goar said.

Long left Goar’s room. He was about halfway through his 12-hour shift. He doesn’t miss his previous career as a loan officer for a mortgage company.

“It’s the first time I have a job where I actually look forward to going to work,” he said.

Source: News-Leader.com

A nurse who is healing patients and himself

 

He was riding in his aunt's sedan, a kid in elementary school, watching senior citizens walk in and out of the Lynwood retirement home where his mother worked. Then she emerged in scrubs.

That's it.

David Fuentes holds on tightly to that simple memory: his mother at work. It's easier than recalling many other parts of his childhood — "a blur," as he calls it.

Like the time when he was little and his father, drunk, socked his mother. She remembers the blood gushing from her face and her child standing in the bathroom saying, "Mom, Mom."

Or the times when he was older and his mother had fallen into addiction. He would stay awake fearful of what might come when she went out looking for a fix.

Or the times he took care of his siblings when no one else would.

"Just like the basic things. That's all I really remember," Fuentes says, "kind of helping to make sure they got fed, and just keeping them company, making sure they were OK."

His face tightens slightly with some questions about the past. But he knows he doesn't need to remember everything.

He has his one simple memory. His mother, a nurse.

She always dreamed of becoming a registered nurse, but life got in the way.

"There's a huge family dynamic," says Fuentes, 26. "I wanted to fulfill for my mom what she envisioned for herself, but could never do."

This summer, he graduated from nursing school at UCLA and landed a job in the intensive-care unit at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

Beyond being a trailblazer in his family, Fuentes is among a group of men redefining the nursing industry. Although the profession is still dominated by women, the number of men is on the rise.

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David Fuentes attends the morning huddle before the shift change in the intensive care unit at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica on April 11.

The percentage of male registered nurses more than tripled from 2.7% in 1970 to 9.6% in 2011, and the proportion of licensed male practical and vocational nurses increased from 3.9% to 8.1% over the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Researchers cite various reasons for the shift, including diminished legal barriers, increasing demand for nurses as the U.S. population ages, and middle-class pay.

But for Fuentes, a main motivation is the solace he finds in being a caretaker.

"Everything is left behind," he says. "That's why I love it so much."

"It's like therapy ... kind of our way of dealing with our issues."

The sturdy curve of his biceps, the gauge in his left ear, the lip ring and tongue ring might seem intimidating if it weren't for the delicate way Fuentes presses on the legs of a 99-year-old patient to check her blood flow, or how he cups his hands and drums on her back to help her breathe more easily.

It is 45 minutes into his first shift as a registered nurse, and Fuentes and another RN are caring for the elderly woman, who had been in septic shock.

She is blind and mostly unresponsive, but Fuentes asks politely, his voice soft but direct: "I'm going to take your temperature ... OK?"

Another nurse says the woman's family stayed for 15 minutes earlier in the day. But Fuentes will be there the whole night standing guard — giving her medicine and monitoring her pain and breathing on his 12-hour overnight shift.

His black curly hair is pulled back into a ponytail and he's wearing navy blue scrubs, the color of the uniform defining his new rank.

"This is the first day of the rest of my life," Fuentes said before his shift started.

Fuentes thinks it's only natural that some patients feel more comfortable with nurses of the same gender, but mostly, he says, it doesn't come up.

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David Fuentes examines Russell Sherman, 87, a patient being treated for a pulmonary embolism. Sherman says he remembers when all nurses were women in white uniforms.

A couple of months earlier, during his training, he was checking the oxygen flow into patient Russell Sherman's nostrils when the 87-year-old looked him over admiringly and said he remembered when the only nurses at hospitals were women in white.

"They were always girls," Sherman said. "It doesn't faze me at all. I think it's a good thing for men to be able to do a job without shame."

One of Fuentes' heroes is UCLA School of Nursing Dean Courtney Lyder, the nation's first male minority dean of such an institution.

Lyder, 47, said his own dean at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Luther Christman, was the first male dean of a school of nursing in the country. Tall and muscular, he "debunked a lot of preconceived myths about nursing."

Decades later, Lyder said, stereotypes about men in nursing are fading and the experience he had in nursing school — one of five men in a class of 200 — is becoming more uncommon. Although he says "we still have a long way to go" as an industry, 11% of students at UCLA's nursing school during the 2012 - 13 academic year were men.

"Men are seeing that this is a viable option that pays well, you have a good lifestyle, you give back to society," Lyder said, adding that nursing groups such as the American Assembly for Men in Nursing have also surged on college campuses.

"Nursing doesn't have a gender. Society and media have portrayed nursing as feminine," Lyder said. "It's not."

But there are nuances, some more subtle than others.

Huddled around sack lunches at a table outside the hospital, a group of undergraduate students — about eight women and one man squeezed in at the far end — took turns saying that they wanted to become nurses because they want more meaningful relationships with patients, not just because it's a good career.

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David Fuentes makes the rounds with registered nurses Pamela Helms, center, and Heather Alfano in the intensive care unit at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

But they struggled to respond when the conversation shifted to pay grades, and the fact that even though men are far less represented in the field, census data show that women earn less on average, 91 cents for every $1 earned by a man.

"I think men obviously are more stronger than women, so maybe," one of the female students said, grasping for a reason. "I don't know, I'm trying to justify it."

The group packed up a few minutes later and went back to work.

Fuentes says that he decided to go into nursing in his freshman or sophomore year of high school, but his mother says his instinct for caretaking goes back much further than that.

"Sometimes I feel that maybe he grew up a little bit too fast because he wanted to make things easier for me," said Guadalupe Perez, 44. "Always got the impression that he kind of knew what was going on, like he just understood.... You could see the sadness in his eyes."

She's proud of her son, even when he chose to live with his aunt and only saw her on weekends.

"He has a good heart, he was always there for his little brother," she says. "Maybe it's just something that ... got into him, always being there to help someone."

But Fuentes is already thinking much bigger than his first love and about the role that nurses can play in the national debate over healthcare and the changes to the healthcare system.

Even though his past is painful, he doesn't want to put it behind him. "It's made me who I am," he says.

Late one night before graduation, Fuentes scribbled his thoughts about the nursing industry and then read them aloud as if his fellow graduates were listening.

"I am sure every single one of you in those seats, pre-license and licensure students alike, can attest to the roller-coaster ride that your respective nursing journey has taken you on," he wrote.

"There have been lots of ups and downs, unexpected turns this way, that way, every which way you could and never would have fathomed, but look at us now, we made it!"

Source: LA Times

TV may reinforce stereotypes about men in nursing

 

By Rob Goodier

(Reuters Health) - Fictional male nurses on television are sidelined in supporting roles, portrayed as the butt of jokes and cast as commentary providers or minority representatives, all of which makes it harder in reality to recruit men to nursing and retain them, according to a new study.

"People don't make decisions about which profession to choose just based on television, but students have told us that popular TV shows can help them choose a career, or that TV perpetuates negative stereotypes about nursing that they then have to address in practice," said Dr. Roslyn Weaver, an adjunct fellow at the University of Western Sydney School of Nursing and Midwifery, who led the research.

"So when men in nursing are almost invisible in popular culture or are stereotyped as incompetent or somehow ‘unmasculine', then men who choose to enter nursing can find it difficult to combat this," Weaver told Reuters Health by email. "Perhaps reflecting this, there are often higher attrition rates for male students than female students in nursing."

In the United States men account for roughly 9 percent of nurses, according to the census bureau. And that figure is similar in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Past research has documented "stereotypical images around nursing, such as the battle-axe, naughty nurse and handmaiden," Weaver and her colleagues write in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

With a growing number of men entering the profession, the authors point out, it's just asdescribe the image important to examine how male nurses are portrayed in popular culture.

For their study, the researchers viewed one season of each of five American medical television dramas, including Grey's Anatomy, Hawthorne, Mercy, Nurse Jackie and Private Practice. They evaluated aspects of the episodes such as dialogue, costumes, casting, cinematography and editing to compile a perspective on the ways that male nurses are characterized.

To their credit, the shows tended to expose and reject stereotypes. But, in a contradictory
trend, they also reinforced the clichés by characterizing male nurses as men who are not traditionally masculine, the researchers found.

Common stereotypes that the shows reinforced include the nurse who is mistaken for a doctor and the gay or emasculated male nurse. Male nurses and midwives in the shows tend to suffer condescension from their colleagues and patients and are the object of comedy.

The male nurse characters also tend to hit multiple diversity targets in casting. The researchers coined the term "minority loading" to denote characters who represent more than one minority group, such as Angel Garcia on Mercy, a gay Hispanic male nurse, and Mo-Mo on Nurse Jackie, a gay Muslim male nurse.

The results were "pretty consistent" with a prior study of male nurses in film that Dr. David Stanley, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Western Australia, published in 2012.

"Apart from 'Nurse Jackie' the medical programs used in the analysis reflected programs aimed at a medically focused perspective of health where nursing is seen lower in relative status and where male nurses are seen as lower still," said Stanley, who was not involved in the current study.

Some of the stereotypes may persist off screen. Male nurses can be regarded as lazy or more readily promoted, Stanley told Reuters Health, though generally they are accepted by patients and female nurses alike.

Being in the minority may put male nurses at a disadvantage, Weaver said. "This not only means men might be stereotyped but they can also be excluded from particular clinical specialties, face difficulties dealing with older female patients and be expected to do more ‘masculine' work such as heavier manual work."

Improving recruitment efforts could help, and fewer negative stereotypes in television programs might make a difference, the researchers say.

SOURCE: bit.ly/18axZ9m Journal of Advanced Nursing, online September 4, 2003.

Men in Nursing: It’s Not Just a Woman’s World

 

describe the imageBy Christina Orlovsky

Ask a young girl what she wants to be when she grows up, and top answers are often a teacher or a nurse, which are professions that have been associated with women throughout history. Ask a young boy the same question and neither answer is likely to be given.

Ask Christopher Lance Coleman, PhD, MS, MPH, FAAN, and he’ll tell you that inequity has to change.

Coleman, an associate professor of nursing and multicultural diversity at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia and the author of Man Up! A Practical Guide for Men in Nursing, is a strong advocate for recruiting males into the nursing workforce and empowering them to pursue leadership roles. His new book serves as a roadmap for men seeking to break into the predominantly female nursing profession.

“I believe men need a guide, a blueprint to use to navigate through the complexity of specialty choice and a culture where, frankly, a gender disparity still exists,” Coleman explains. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime for men not only to change the face of nursing in the 21st century, but also to reshape the public image that nursing is a women’s profession.”

In fact, while the most recent numbers show that men are still a clear minority in the nursing field, an uptick is occurring. According to a 2012 U.S. Census Bureau study, “Men in Nursing Occupations,” which presents data from the 2011 American Community Survey, the percentage of male nurses has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7 percent to 9.6 percent. Of the 3.5 million employed nurses in 2011, 3.2 million were female and 330,000 were male. It’s a change, but, if you ask Coleman, it’s not enough.

“The startling thing is how underrepresented men still are in areas of leadership,” he says. “While the numbers of RNs has increased, when you look at the profession as a whole--heads of nursing, academia--we are still so far underrepresented. This is significant for males going through school looking for role models and seeing predominantly female leaders. I want men to know this is a viable profession and there are tremendous opportunities out there.”

Coleman believes the greatest opportunities for change are in younger men, who even at the high school level should do their research and start the conversation with their parents about the opportunities that exist for them in nursing. Ethnic minority groups, he adds, are particularly critical.

“Many ethnic minority groups, even today in 2013, still think of nursing as only a woman’s profession,” he says. “That racial disparity needs to be taken away.”

Coleman hopes that his book also opens up a dialogue among current male registered nurses. Empowering male RNs to continue to climb the ladder to leadership roles where they can influence change and serve as a new face of the nursing profession, he says, can encourage them to become the mentors male RNs need to help them succeed.

Another conversation that needs to occur in order to influence a culture shift is one between female nurses who may stereotype their male counterparts as only necessary for heavy lifting or things they “can’t” do.

“That’s a stereotype that hurts women and hurts the profession,” Coleman explains. “We don’t want nursing to be seen as a profession of the weak, we want it to be seen as a profession of the strong, because nurses are strong. We all need to do a better job of marketing ourselves--stop stereotyping and typecasting males and do more education in the hospital setting about gender diversity.”

Many men, after all, possess all the qualities required to be good nurses.

“Passion; someone with a tremendous amount of integrity; leadership skills; with a natural curiosity about the world; someone who is unafraid to take on issues that perhaps have challenged them in the past; someone who could treat someone at the end of the day how they want to be treated; and someone who cares to change the world we live in--those characteristics are essential and they transcend gender,” Coleman concludes. “Those are things I’d like to see in anyone who is interested in entering our noble profession.” 

© 2013. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

TravelNursing.com

Santa Fe man changes careers, pursues ‘new life’ as nurse

 

By: Deborah Busemeyer

FreSanta Fe man finds ‘new life’ as a nurse  d Koch paused in front of hospital room 3209 when he noticed a patient he had discharged moments earlier passing by on his way home. Koch, holding an IV bag in one hand, reached out with his other to shake the patient’s hand.

“You take care, sir,” Koch said.

Koch continued into the room with Shauna Star, who is in charge of Koch’s four-month initiation training before Koch can care for patients by himself at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. The registered nurses worked together to increase the patient’s dose of pain medication through the IV.

They were on the third floor of the hospital in unit 3200, which is considered a “step-down” unit, meaning patients are usually stabilized and on their way home. The unit is where patients are prepped for surgery, while others there are recovering. Some won’t recover, and the nurses make sure they are comfortable in their final stages of life.

“Everyone in here is someone’s brother, sister, mother, father,” Koch, 51, said between checking on patients. “You’re taking care of someone’s family, so that’s a big responsibility and an honor to do that.”

Koch doesn’t shy away from big responsibility. At 48, the high school graduate who worked as an artist returned to school to pursue nursing while working full time as a medical technician and caring for his two sons, then 4 and 7. He quit his 20-year job as a goldsmith because he said the travel required to promote his high-end jewelry took him away from his children too much when his 12-year marriage ended.

His decision to switch careers was also about securing a future during uncertain economic times for himself and his two sons — Charle, now 10 and in fifth grade at El Dorado Community School, and 12-year-old William, a seventh-grader at the Academy for Technology and the Classics.

However, investing in school might not have been possible for Koch without the financial support he received from his employer, Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.

“St. Vincent gave me a new life,” he said. “I worked for it. They give you an opportunity if you’re willing to work for it. It’s quite a huge thing for a big corporation to do that.”

Koch is one of 500 part-time and full-time nurses Christus St. Vincent employs. In March, the hospital held a ceremony honoring Koch and 11 other employees who received scholarships to support their nursing education. The medical center and St. Vincent Hospital Foundation reimburses hospital employees for tuition and living expenses, as well as awards scholarships specifically for nursing students.

The hospital spent $120,000 on scholarships this year, according to hospital spokeswoman Mandi Kane. Scholarships provide each recipient with $13,500 a year, for up to two years, to cover tuition and a $1,000 monthly stipend for up to 10 months per year for two years. In addition, employees pursuing higher education are eligible for reimbursement of up to $1,500.

Generally, employees who receive scholarships are those who work in entry-level positions and are from Northern New Mexico, said Julia Vasquez, manager of organizational development at the medical center. She said the hospital usually awards 10 scholarships a year.

“We would like to have more of our community being taken care of by our community,” Vasquez said. “They represent the people we are caring for. If we can give scholarships to people working entry-level jobs, it’s an advantage to us to have those folks vested in our hospital. We are looking for that community connection.”

It’s hard to find scholarships that support nursing students in Santa Fe, according to Jenny Landen, director of nursing education at Santa Fe Community College.

She said about half of her students have financial aid or loans, but the ones with scholarships typically are Christus employees. She encourages nursing students not to work because the full-time program is rigorous and demanding.

“The reality is most of my students have to work,” she said. “A lot of them are supporting spouses and have children. Some are single parents. In this day and age, it’s rare to have a young, single student who doesn’t have financial obligations. What I see happening a lot is they end up having to work more than they should, and it’s a stress on their personal life, and I see it in how they perform academically.

They get sick, fall asleep in class and struggle to keep up with their studies. “It causes aSanta Fe man finds ‘new life’ as a nurse great strain on their education while they are here,” she said.

Landen is working on how to increase nursing enrollment through part-time options with evening and weekend classes.

“I lose a few very solid nursing candidates every semester because they need a part-time program so they can work,” Landen said. “We are looking at trying to create another option for students that would address their financial issues.”

Offering part-time options could also help grow the number of nurses in the state. Increasing the number of nurses has become a critical issue as New Mexico, along with the rest of the country, grapples with nursing shortages. National health and nursing organizations forecast rising shortages due to population growth and retiring nurses. At the same time, nursing is the top occupation in terms of job growth through 2020, according to employment projections released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in February 2012.

Hospitals are trying to address nursing shortages with educational strategies such as offering scholarships to workers, according to a 2006 article, “Hospitals’ Responses to Nurse Staffing Shortages,” in Health Affairs. Authors reported that 97 percent of surveyed hospitals were using such strategies. The article called for more public financing to expand nursing schools.

National efforts to address nursing shortages focus on educating more nurses, but many educational institutions can’t keep up with the demand. Santa Fe Community College receives twice as many applicants as it has spots, Landen said. When the college receives legislative money for the nursing program, Landen said she needs to spend it on her small faculty.

While Landen is trying to expand educational options, she is also considering how to better support students. She said she may apply for a grant from the New Mexico Board of Nursing’s Nursing Excellence Fund to offer scholarships to students.

Koch talked about his time as a student a week after he received his RN license. He sat at his long dining room table, where he did homework with his sons, in the home he bought two years ago. He lives in one of the new, south-side neighborhoods that border Dinosaur Trail. His humble demeanor turns prideful when he talks about his sons and how they have separate bedrooms for the first time since his divorce.

“I’m in a much better place now for me and my children,” he said. “The hospital and through their scholarship enabled me to move on with my life.”

Even with the scholarship money, Koch said he might not have attempted the nursing program if he knew how hard it would be to juggle children, work and school. As a native of Ontario, Canada, his credits didn’t transfer, so he had to complete two years of prerequisites before starting his nursing education at Santa Fe Community College. He took classes year-round, worked weekends for four years and managed three 12-hour shifts a week.

“What’s the alternative to all this? Failure? If you have kids, failure is just not an option,” Koch said. “You have to get yourself through life. You have to get your kids through life and give them the tools they need.”

He remembers late study sessions and bleary-eyed mornings when he would wrap his sons in blankets and drive the sleeping boys in the dark to a friend’s house. They would sleep on the friend’s couch while Koch started clinical rounds at the hospital, seven hours after he had finished his last shift.

“Getting the scholarship was one thing, but it was actually more than that,” Koch said. “I had the support of management to let my schedule be flexible enough that I could still work, make an income and go to school.”

Koch is among the first new nurses to start work in the hospital’s float pool, which involves getting assigned to any unit that needs help that day. He finds out where to go 15 minutes before his 7 a.m. shift starts. For a former volunteer firefighter and a man who thrives on challenges, Koch appreciates learning everything he can to be an effective nurse.

“Working at St. Vincent solidified what an honorable thing it is to care for another human being,” he said. “It doesn’t just touch that person but it touches that person’s family and other generations if you can help someone stay well. It’s important work.”

The first in his family to have a college degree, Koch expects that nurses will be required to have bachelor’s degrees at some point. He is planning to start classes this fall to achieve his bachelor’s degree in science.

“No matter where you are in life, you can succeed,” he said.

Source: Santa Fe New Mexican

More Men Becoming Nurses

 

The demand for nurses has significantly increased over the past few years and while the profession is mainly represented by females, more and more men have started to join the field as well. 

According to a study by the U.S. Census Bureau, male nurses are becoming increasingly more commonplace. 

In 1970, only 2.7 percent of nurses were male, compared to 9.6 percent today, meaning that the proportion of male nurses has more than tripled over the past 4 decades. The male proportion of practical and licensed vocational nurses has also increased over the same period, from 3.9 percent to 8.1 percent. 

The finding comes from a study of the 2011 American Community Survey which measured the proportion of men in each of the following nursing fields: nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse and licensed practical nurse. 

The majority the 3.5 million employed nurses in 2011 were women - close to 3.2 million. However, the number of male nurses is on the rise - close to 330,000 at the last count. 

In addition, they analyzed the characteristics of men and women working in these fields, such as age, origin, race, education, earnings, industry, work hours and citizenship. 

The author of the report, Liana Christin Landivar, a sociologist in the Census Bureau's Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch, said: 

"The aging of our population has fueled an increasing demand for long-term care and end-of-life services. A predicted shortage has led to recruiting and retraining efforts to increase the pool of nurses. These efforts have included recruiting men into nursing."

Patient receives chemotherapy
Male nurses typically earn more than their female co-workers. For every dollar male nurses earned, female nurses earned 91 cents. This difference in earnings is a lot smaller than most across all occupations though, with women earning 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Healthcare is among the fastest growing industries and as people are living longer there is an increased demand for long-term care as well as end-of-life services. The unemployment rate among nurses is extremely low due to this increasing demand. Only 0.8 percent of nurse practitioners, 0.8 percent of nurse anesthetists, and 1.8 percent of registered nurses were unemployed in 2011. 

Some additional findings of the study, show that in 2011:

  • The majority of employed nurses were registered nurses (78 percent), followed by licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (19 percent).

  • 41 percent of nurse anesthetists were male - the occupation with the highest male representation.

  • Male nurses earned an average of $60,700 per annum compared to $51,100 per annum among women. 

According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Center, nursing is a profession with an extremely high burnout rate and many nurses report feeling dissatisfied with their jobs. They say that it is imperative that hospital leaders and policy makers improve work environments for nurses, which in turn also improves quality of care for patients.

Source: Medical News Today

More men turn to nursing but stereotypes remain

 

By TARA BANNOW

Male nurse Todd Ingram couldn't bring himself to finish the movie "Meet the Parents."

Ingram said he made it to the point in the movie when a group of men erupted into laughter upon learning Ben Stiller's character's profession: a male nurse. They assumed he was joking.

"The stereotypes are still out there, unfortunately, that nursing is women's work," Ingram, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Iowa, told the Iowa City Press-Citizen(http://icp-c.com/XTnJBw).

Despite the lingering stigma in popular culture, a recent U.S. Census Bureau report says the proportion of males working as nurses is slowly climbing. In fact, the percentage of registered nurses in the U.S. who are male has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7 to 9.6 percent in 2011.

The proportion of male registered nurses at UI Hospitals and Clinics is slightly lower than the national average: 8 percent. Historical data on the proportion of male-to-female nurses could not be provided for this article. Local experts say they're surprised by the increase the Census Bureau numbers identified, as other research and anecdotal observation revealed a much more gradual uptick.

Some say the stereotypes that once prevented young men from viewing nursing as a viable profession are slowly losing their hold over the country. But while traditional gender roles have undergone dramatic shifts in some areas, the idea that such a nurturing line of work is only for women seems to be taking longer to dispel, said John Wagner, director of Clinical Services for Behavioral Health in UIHC's nursing department.

"There's just as great a distribution in men in terms of men that want to help people," he said. "I think that is very strong within the male population, but I think it's only recently that that's been viewed as favorable by society."

Given how male nurses are portrayed in movies and TV, it's still likely that young men considering nursing could be concerned about being viewed as "less of a man" by the public, Ingram said.

Of the 3.5 million employed nurses in 2011, about 3.2 million were women and 330,000 were male, according to the Census data. Most of the nurses working in 2011 — 78 percent — were registered nurses. Another 19 percent were licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses — positions that Wagner said don't exist at UIHC — and 1 percent were nurse anesthetists.

Males weren't always a minority in nursing. In fact, until the 1800s, they represented a significant proportion of the industry because of its military and religious connections, according to Census data. The decline of males in nursing began in the 1900s when legal barriers were created that prevented them from entering the profession.

The Census report found that women working as full-time nurses earned 91 cents for every dollar that male nurses earned in 2011, or an average of $51,000 per year for women compared with $60,700 for men.

UIHC employees' pay is determined using a set formula based on education, level of experience and seniority, so one's gender has no impact on the amount of money they make, Wagner said.

"I think that most hospitals in particular have gone to great lengths to try to eliminate (wage disparities,)" he said. "I know we have."

Aside from the social changes, the nursing industry's low unemployment rate also could be contributing to the increase in males joining the ranks. Wagner said that's the message he hears from many adults who enter the profession later in life.

Some enter nursing as a safe escape from the trauma that comes with being laid off in a tough economy, Wagner said.

"If you lost a job and couldn't find another job, not ending up in that situation again is a big factor," he said.

But Ingram, who interacts with more students, said he doesn't see practicality being the reason that young people choose nursing. He said most of his male students were introduced to the profession by a parent or close family member who's a nurse. None of them, to Ingram's frustration, tell him they were introduced to nursing by a guidance counselor in middle or high school.

That was the case with Iowa City Veteran's Affairs Medical Center nurse Dan Lose, who graduated from UI's College of Nursing in May 2012. He learned about the profession growing up through his grandmother, who is a nurse. His father is a dentist.

"I was always around health care," he said.

Lose, 24, said he's noticed the shift toward more males entering nursing, which he attributes to more people being introduced at an early age. In the past, he said, it was probably more common for males interested in health care to think that becoming a doctor was their only option.

Lose said he personally has never experienced the negative end of male nurse stereotypes.

Back when Wagner was growing up, things were different.

"I remember in high school standing in this long line of women to talk to the nurse recruiter and literally getting kind of hazed by guys that were like, 'Wagner, what are you doing in that line?' It was kind of an uncomfortable experience," he said. "I just don't think young men today have that."

Source: KFOX14

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