DiversityNursing Blog

The Joys and Challenges of Men in Nursing

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Feb 06, 2013 @ 11:12 AM

BY DARIA WASZAK, RN, MSN, CEN, COHN-S

The Joys and Challenges of Men in Nursing

Gerardo Gorospe, RN, BSN, MSN, is frequently mistaken for a physician — not necessarily due to his skillset, expertise, white coat or bedside manner, but because of his gender.  “I am often asked why I am not a doctor. I politely say, ‘Because I wanted to be a nurse.’” 

Gorospe is the clinical nurse manager in the Department of Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. He has been an RN for over 21 years and has his MSN in education and nursing administration. Although nursing is a predominantly female profession, he decided to become a RN because of his interest in health and science, helping patients achieve wellness and the “personal interaction aspect” of being a nurse.

He spends his workday managing a team of transplant coordinators and hematology clinical trial nurses, resolving problems, supervising staff and managing projects, among many other tasks. “I think because we are in a female-dominated environment, there is, in the community at large, not a great understanding of who we are and what we do,” he says. “There are some gender stereotypes when it comes to the territory of nursing.”

That couldn’t be more evident than when you take a look at older nursing textbooks, like a 1962 edition of Mosby’s Practical Nursing that Gorospe recalls picking up from a thrift store; the cover featured a picture of a woman in a white nursing dress, white cap and heels, holding a tray. “There is certainly gender bias in our early textbooks of nurses as women,” he says.

Heavy Lifting
So, does there continue to be a social stigma surrounding being male in a predominately female profession? What difficulties do men in nursing face today? Gorospe, 45, who went to nursing school in the early 1990s, says his patients never had a problem with his gender, but he did remark that since he is often the only male on duty, his female colleagues frequently turn to him for his physical strength. “I think when it comes to the physical work — lifting patients and heavy equipments — male nurses are often asked to assist,” Gorospe says, adding that his colleagues would often exclaim, “We are glad you are here today, so you can help lift.”

A Need for Role Models
Samuel Gomez, MSN, RN, PHN, CENP, was one of only two men in his nursing program in the early 1980s. Since men were even more uncommon in nursing at that time than they are now, he, like Gorospe, was frequently asked why he didn’t just become a doctor instead of a nurse.

Gomez, 48, explains that he was inspired to choose nursing as a career by a high school guidance counselor who was also a RN. “She told me that as a man, nursing was a great profession for me to explore and that it had many possibilities and opportunities,” he says. “She was absolutely right.” 

Now, Gomez is the one inspiring other men to join nursing. He is currently the executive director of cardiovascular services at Mission Hospital Regional Medical and Trauma Center in Mission Viejo, Calif., but he often speaks to medically underserved middle school youth. When he was a professor at the University of Southern California, he even started a special interest group for male nursing students. 

“What is most important to me as a nurse who is male is the importance of role-modeling for others, the importance men have in nursing and that as a profession, it is open and ready for more men to join,” he says. “I am always sure to point out to male students that nursing has been an outstanding career for me and it can be for them as well.”

A Tailored Fit
According to a 2005 “Men in Nursing” survey conducted by Hodes Research and published on the website of the American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN), approximately 6 percent of nurses are men. Nearly half of the almost 500 respondents to that survey reported experiencing gender-related problems in the workplace, including being stereotyped as “muscle,” being a minority in the nursing profession, being perceived as not caring or having trouble communicating with female colleagues.

Scott Topiol, co-founder of the online men’s scrub store Murse World, adds that male nurses often face an additional problem: Nursing scrub stores rarely have a good selection or variety of scrubs for men. Unisex scrubs, which feature solid colors, a baggy fit and a V-neck cut, are no solution; they only come in a few styles and stores seldom carry all of those.         “Scrubs that are made specifically for men not only fit their bodies better,” says Topiol, “they also offer more masculine styling options that help male nurses and healthcare professionals look and feel their best on the job.“

Topiol says that one of the goals he and co-founder Alex Mayzels had in starting Murse World was to provide scrubs that are more attractive to men. “One thing we've found is that many men are looking for a more athletic, sporty cut and also want color accent options such as contrast color stitching,” he explains.  

Communication Styles
Like the respondents of the 2005 Hodes survey, 38-year-old Troy Gideon, RN, BSN, critical care clinical coordinator at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif., says that one of the biggest challenges male nurses face is continuing to improve their professional interactions with female colleagues. “A man in a female world must learn the intricacies of female communication and the dynamics of their interrelationships to be able to work collaboratively towards a goal,” he explains. 

Despite the communication hurdles, Gideon has seen improvement for men as nursing has evolved over time. “I think that the industry has changed greatly in its social context as the field has become more educated and professional,” he says. “With this change and the financial stability that comes with it, nursing has become a magnet for more males, thus dissolving preconceived stigmas.” 

Managing the Whole Patient
Gomez, Gideon, and Gorospe all spoke about how rewarding their nursing careers have been, whether they have involved teaching, leading and supervising other nurses or performing patient care.

“As nurses, we are for the whole individual, not just managing the medical condition or surgically managing a patient. We manage the patient holistically,” Gomez says. “That was all I needed to know about the profession of nursing — that it was aligned with who I was as a person and as a human being.”

Topics: men, men in healthcare, nursing, benefits, minority, challenges

What Disease Hits Black Men Most?

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 @ 02:36 PM

Article from http://diversityinc.com

CommunityHealth310A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that in almost every state men of color continue to fare worse than white men on a variety of measures of health, healthcare access and other social determinants of health.

The report, Putting Men’s Health Care Disparities On The Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level, documents thepersistence of disparities between white men and men of color—and among different groups within men of color—on 22 indicators of health and well-being, including rates of diseases such as AIDS, cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well as insurance coverage and health screenings. It also documents disparities in factors that influence health and access to care such as income and education.

This new analysis provides state-level data for men of many racial and ethnic populations that have not been available before. Among the findings:

  • American Indian and Alaska native men had higher rates of health and access problems than men in other racial and ethnic groups on nearly all health indicators. They also had the highest poverty rate and second worst educational attainment, unemployment rate and incarceration rate.
  • More than four in 10 Latino men lacked insurance (46 percent) and a personal health care provider (49 percent), and more than a fifth (22 percent) had no doctor visit in the previous year due to cost. Latino men also had the lowest median household income, the largest wage gap compared to white men and the lowest educational status.
  • Black men had much higher rates of poverty and incarceration and lower rates of high school graduation than whites. The most striking health disparity was that nationally Black men were more than seven times as likely as white men to be newly diagnosed with AIDS, with a rate of 101.5 new AIDS cases per 100,000 Blacks ages 13 and older compared with 13.5 new cases per 100,000 whites. The disparity was even larger in some states, such as Nebraska,Pennsylvania, and Maryland, where the rate of new AIDS cases was more than 10 times as high among black men compared to whites.
  • Nationally, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander men had the lowest rate of health problems and the fewest barriers to access of all subgroups of men, even white men.
  • While white men fared better than minority men on most access and social indicators, they had higher rates of some health problems than men of color, such as higher rates of smoking and binge drinking. For example, in Wisconsin35 percent of white men reported binge drinking compared with 20 percent of minority men.
  • Some of the states with the greatest access disparities between white and minority men included Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., all of which also exhibited some of the greatest disparities in income between white and minority men. Several states with relatively large Native American populations—Arizona,North Dakota and South Dakota—also had large disparities in access between white and minority men.

The full report, including detailed state-by-state data tables and related fact sheets, is available online.

A companion report released in 2009 examines similar racial and ethnic disparities among women, and includes state fact sheets and interactive data tables, also is available.

For more on decreasing disparities in healthcare, watch the video below on WellPoint’s innovative Community Ambassador Program:

Topics: risk, men, black, disease

More Men Trading Overalls for Nursing Scrubs

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 @ 02:32 PM

How far would you go for a financial comeback? Heading to North Dakota’s oil boom and other stories of post-recession striving.

IN 2007, Kurt Edwards figured he would be stacking and racking 80-pound boxes of dog food and celery in the back of a grocery store for the rest of his working life. And he was fine with that.

But that June, after nine years on the job, layoff notices arrived on the warehouse floor at the Farmer Jack store in Detroit where he worked. His employer, Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, closed the Farmer Jack chain. Today he still does a lot of lifting, but of people, not boxes. Mr. Edwards joined the ranks of former warehouse, factory and autoworkers trading in their coveralls and job uncertainty for nurses’ scrubs.

At 49, divorced with no children, he now tends to patients on the graveyard shift at Sheffield Manor Nursing and Rehab Center, a two-story, gray brick building in a ramshackle neighborhood on Detroit’s west side. Interviewed last month, he says he is making about $70,000 annually, $20,000 more than he did at the warehouse.

The story of how he made the transition is one that men like him appear to be telling with increasing frequency, and the demand for their services is what is setting so many of them on similar paths.

Hard figures are elusive, but the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth estimates a shortage of 18,000 nurses in the state by 2015 — and the labor force is adapting.

Oakland University in nearby Rochester, Mich., has established a program specifically to retrain autoworkers in nursing — about 50 a year since 2009. And the College of Nursing at Wayne State University in Detroit is enrolling a wide range of people switching to health careers, including former manufacturing workers, said Barbara Redman, its dean. “They bring age, experience and discipline,” she said.

David Pomerville brings a few more years than Mr. Edwards. A 57-year-old nursing student, he spent most of his career as an automotive vibration engineer, including almost 10 years at General Motors. His pink slip arrived in April 2009.

At the time, Mr. Pomerville was earning almost $110,000 a year at the General Motors Milford Proving Ground in Milford Township, Mich.

But having watched another round of bloodletting at G.M. three years earlier, he had already decided on nursing as his Plan B. “I thought, ‘Well, I worked on cars for this long, now I’m going to work on people for a while,’ ” he said.

A married father of two and grandfather of two, Mr. Pomerville had almost no money saved when he was laid off. But the federal Trade Readjustment Act, which aids workers who lose their jobs as a result of foreign competition, paid for nursing school tuition. His wife is a teacher, and he receives unemployment benefits. He hopes to graduate at the end of this year, and he expects his salary will be about half what he used to make.

Timothy Henk ultimately decided not to try to stick it out as long as Mr. Pomerville did. Mr. Henk, 32, worked for eight years at the Ford Sterling Axle Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., installing drive shafts in the F-150 truck, and was making about $25 an hour by 2007. With overtime, he earned $70,000 a year.

But as he and his wife contemplated having children, he worried that income would not last. So in 2007, he took a buyout, which included $15,000 a year for four years to put toward education. Two friends in nursing — both women — had suggested he look into joining their profession. He researched the demand for nurses in Michigan and used the buyout money to pay his tuition at Wayne State.

The amount of schooling required to be a nurse depends on the level of nursing a student chooses to pursue. Mr. Henk went through Wayne State’s four-year program to obtain a bachelor of science in nursing and then took a licensing exam to become a registered nurse, or R.N. Other levels of nursing include the C.N.A., or certified nurse’s aide, which can require as little as eight weeks of training plus a certification exam, and L.P.N., or licensed practical nurse, which requires one or two years of schooling and a licensing exam.

All of that assumes acceptance in a nursing program. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing said more than 67,000 applicants were turned away in 2010 for lack of faculty or classroom space — not a good sign with a national nursing shortage projected to be as high as 500,000 by 2025.

Mr. Henk now works in the critical care unit at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. He makes about $50,000 annually for a 36-hour workweek, though Ford’s health insurance was better.

The choice to make this switch was probably least likely for Mr. Edwards, the former grocery worker. He dropped out of college and spent four years in the Army as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. He found his unionized warehouse job after a stint working for his father, an accountant.

“You have this plan, this goal,” he said. “I was going to be at this warehouse; all the guys were retiring with great benefits. I was part of the middle class, and I was going to make it.”

When it became clear that he would not make it to retirement there, someone he was dating suggested nursing.

Though he wrote it off as woman’s work at first, he realized he was getting a bit old for manual labor. So he returned to school, living on unemployment checks and occasional groceries from by his mother. He spent the last four months of his L.P.N. training with no electricity because he could not afford to pay any bills except rent.

How far would you go for a financial comeback? Heading to North Dakota’s oil boom and other stories of post-recession striving.

Once he finished, the Sheffield Manor administrator, LaKeshia Bell, pretty much hired him on the spot. “They are like a hot commodity,” she said. “A male presence actually helps us in the facility.” At 5 feet 9 inches tall and 220 pounds, Mr. Edwards lifts patients as easily as he stacked boxes.

But he still appears to be a rarity. Just 7 percent of employed registered nurses are men, according to a 2008 Department of Health and Human Services survey. It did not count licensed practical nurses. Still, the percentage of people certified in nursing in some way who are men has risen to 9.6 percent since 2000 from 6.2 percent before, according to the department.

Ms. Bell noted that new nurses coming from manufacturing had unusual adjustments to make. When dealing with parts on the factory floor, she said, repetition is a major part of the job. “These are not parts. They’re people, so you can’t just have a set regimen like in a plant setting,” she said.

That cultural shift goes both ways. Mr. Edwards’s supervisor, Yvonne Gipson, provided an example. “I mean Kurt is not an ugly man, O.K.?” she said. “You got all these female workers, and they’re all looking at him like, ‘Oh! Potential husband!’ So, yes, it does change.” Her voice trailed off, erupting into peals of laughter as Mr. Edwards slipped a $20 bill into her pocket.

While these success stories point to opportunity, Michigan’s unemployment rate is still 9 percent. And Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, says history is a cruel taskmaster when it comes to struggling industries.

“When one industry goes in decline and another comes to the fore, you don’t have a one-to-one employment replacement at all,” he said. “It takes a decade, two decades. In the meantime, some people find their careers are ended, ruined, and they never get them back.”

For these new nurses, the advantage is the demand in Michigan. Mr. Edwards knows he is lucky. “You know I wake up every day and I’m very proud,” he said. “I’m looking in the mirror. I’m happy. I’m proud. I’m saying, you know, this turned out great. The lights are on!”

Topics: men, nursing, nurse, nurses, salary, salaries

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