The history of male nursing dates back to centuries ago. In 300 A.D., a group of men, the Parabolani, started a hospital that provided nursing care during the Black Plague epidemic. During the American Civil War, both sides had military males serving as nurses. Males were mainly the front line nurses while female nurses usually had to stay at hospitals in the major cities. Men were forbidden to attend some state-supported nursing schools until 1982, But surprisingly Two thousand years ago, nursing school was for men only. Men were only thought to be “pure” enough to enter what is thought to be the world’s first nursing school, which was founded in India about 250 B.C., according to Bruce Wilson, registered nurse and associate professor at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. For the next two thousand years, nursing remained male-dominated. It took war in the 19th and 20th centuries to change nursing from being considered a man’s job to a women’s job. One of the biggest changes in the profession came in 1901 when the military nursing corps was reorganized. Men were then no longer allowed to serve as nurses, continuing the process of the feminization of nursing, said Wilson, who is also the manager of American Assembly For Men in Nursing’s Web site. Females were not always the ones dominant in the nursing profession.
According to Gene Tranbarger, associate professor of nursing at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina “discrimination towards men is quickly going away from schools of nursing but remains imbedded in the school fabric,” he observes. “The staff and faculty still rely on the females when discussing nurses.”
Even with more male nurses growing, the nurse position is still viewed as a “female job”
Nurses are traditionally and mostly female; of the 2.1 million registered nurses in the United States, for example, only 5.4 percent are men. Men also make up only 13 percent of all new nursing students. As many Western nations are having to deal with a shortage of nurses, many and nursing schools and governments are recruiting more males as nurses. For example, when the University of Pittsburgh increased its admission requirements for its nursing program, the number of male students jumped significantly.
There are a lot of myths when it comes to male nursing, one being that nursing is a women’s job. The idea of nursing being only a “female’s job” has given way to the believe that anybody can be a nurse. With benefits like a flexible schedule, good pay, and the challenges nurses have every day make the job very rewarding. According to Jim DeMaria “The scientific and methodical approach to nursing is what I would call “man-friendly.” There are still experienced female nurses who believe males are trying to enter and take over. Some feel afraid and do not want to give up their place, or their place of power, and view male nurses as a threat. This would seem ridiculous, but is sometimes very true. Nursing is a tough world for men. There are female nurses that just do not want them there. Another myth that comes with male nursing is that they are homosexual, the stereotype comes from people’s idea that nursing is a career for females and why on earth would a male want to do it. “He has to be gay”. The same thing goes for female truck drivers, or female mechanics. Sure some of them might be gay, but that does mean every female mechanic is. It’s an attitude left over from a time in medicine when there were only female nurses, and doctors were male, never female. Some people figure that because male nurses work in a dominant female job, they are probably gay. But most male nurses are not gay, and sexual orientation is not a sign of whether or not a man will or will not become a nurse. Many male nurses find this stereotype saddening and upsetting, mainly because it can affect the way they are looked at and treated by society.
Male nurses are frequently faced with demeaning responses to and questions about their career choice. They might be asked, “Are you going to become a doctor eventually?” or “Are you really a nurse?” Many hold the belief that no man would make nursing his first career choice. As such, male nurses are sometimes perceived as individuals who couldn’t quite make the cut as a doctor or medical administrator. Although male nurses are increasingly common, they may still encounter difficulties on the job as a result of their gender. When more men began pursuing nursing in the 1960s, most hospitals prohibited them from treating female patients or being present in the delivery room. While this form of institutional discrimination is a thing of the past, male nurses still have to deal with negative stereotypes and the stigma of being the minority in a female-dominated profession. As time goes by, more and more males will become nurses. Hopefully the barrier will be completely gone one day, and people will not look at male nurses so differently and male nurses will have the same respect as females.
Men choose nursing careers for a few reasons. Many nurses like having a direct connection to their patient’s health. Some male nurses enjoys that their line of work allows them to do many things that they could not do with another job. There are also benefits of having male nurses on staff. Historically and especially in medial-surgical areas men are used for heavy lifting because men most of the time are physically stronger than woman on the staff. Having a male on the staff can also bring balance intro nursing and create a more relaxed work environment. Bringing a balance to any situation can be useful. Bringing more balance to a group can make it stronger by bringing in perspectives that were left out or not there, and increasing the mix of skills in your team.
Males are actually ideally suited to both the pressures and excitement of nursing. Men also have a very different perspective than women on a lot of things, and it’s a good thing having them in the profession. A nurse makes a huge difference in people’s lives. A caring and compassionate nurse is considered as a guardian angel by patients. Nurses have the opportunity to make swift decisions, learn each day and never get bored, as each day is different. Being a nurse has many good things associated with it, just because a male is a nurse doesn’t mean they should be looked down upon. Although some patients might prefer female nurses, others might like a male nurse to mix things up. The male nurse discrimination issue will go away eventually on its own. As more and more males are becoming nurses, eventually the bias and prejudice views will go away. People will eventually realize that the job is no longer just a “female” career. 100 or so years from now maybe the percentage of males to female nurses will be 50 percent, but who knows. The prejudice views are diminishing with time, so it is very important for males interested in saving life’s and men who want an excited career to consider nursing an option, males need to keep enrolling in nursing schools and keep an open mind. The only way men can stop these bias and prejudice views is to keep entering nursing schools. Male nurses do not have it easy, and have to work harder than females, but in the end it is very worth it, and helping or saving someone’s life can be very rewarding.
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