April 14, 2010 | | Comments 2
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Male nurses try to break free of stereotype

Nurses are all too familiar with stereotypes. Just a few weeks ago, nurses around the world spoke out against Mariah Carey’s recent music video for her song “Up Out My Face.” Now, the stereotypes that male nurses face in the profession are being challenged with the help of a national ad campaign: “Are You Man Enough to Be a Nurse?”

Male nurses are rare, accounting for only 5% of the 2 million registered nurses in the United States, but the ad campaign is trying to help break through the stereotype that male nurses are homosexual and not as caring as female nurses.

The ads depict a variety of men and then provide a brief description of a hobby each man enjoys. The men shown in the campaign are dressed in nurse scrubs, sports attire, and business suits. Click here to view the campaign.

According to a study conducted by the Bernard Hodes Group in 2004, 50% of the men surveyed have encountered stereotypes in the workplace, and 56% said they encountered the stereotype in nursing school.

Even though the use of these ads can help promote nursing and recruit more males into the profession, the Hodes study reveals that the men did not view the ads in a positive way.

However, Christopher Blackwell, an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida’s College of Nursing believes that no matter where you work, if it is in a good team environment, the stereotypes will not matter.

“We did not care if you were male, female, white, black, or Puerto Rican,” Blackwell said. “What we care about was that you were a good, productive member of the team.”

Are there many male nurses working on your unit? What are other ways the stereotypes can be broken? How does your facility try to change these beliefs?

Source: OrlandoSentinel.com

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Sarah Kearns About the Author: Sarah is an Editorial Assistant in the patient safety group at HCPro, Inc. She contributes to two monthly newsletters; Briefings on the Joint Commission and Briefings on Patient Safety, and manages four e-zines; Accreditation Connection, AHAP Staff Challenge, Nurse Manager Weekly, and Healthcare Training Weekly. She also helps research new products for the patient safety and nursing market. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2008 where she earned her bachelor's degree in English.

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  1. Sarah, Early years in a diploma nursing program in the shadow of the Good Sisters of Charity and a group of World War II battled-hardened Independent Navy Corpsmen set a foundation for a lifetime in healthcare. The prospect of getting paid to learn in a professional setting where men were outnumbered 1-100 was very appealing to a farm boy. I was drafted into the Army the month after my graduation. This was at a time when male RNs were not eligible for Officer rank in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC). In mid-1955 that all changed and I became one of the first males to be commissioned, an opportunity with its pioneering experiences common to being “first of a kind”. The most important educational experience in a lifetime in healthcare was that three years in the diploma program. As I moved-on to CEO positions ranging from Combat Field Hospitals to Medical Centers and Hospital Systems the early foundation for patient-centered care was alway a driving force. Forty years after the first male nure was commisioned in the Army Nurse Corps the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps was a male. Nursing is an honorable and rewarding profession and I would encourage males to enter the profession. JB

  2. I decided to become a nurse when I realized I needed a career change from being a Chef. One of the chefs I worked with commented that I would be working with all woman. My response was I didn’t think that was a bad thing. I had worked in a psychiatric hospital when after I graduated from high school and was going to school for psychology. It was my first contact working with nurses. It was not an entirely satisfying experience. However my interest was piqued and nursing was the the only career I considered for career change.
    I have been a nurse since I graduated in 1992. I first became aware of stereotyping of male nurses while I was in nursing school. Patients and even female nurses seemed suprised that I was married. Patients often referred to me as their “male” nurse or they though I was one the physicians.It has been the most satisfying experience of my life. I cannot imagine doing anything else for living. I get to take care of people and get paid to do so.

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