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Seasoned with Sage
A Male Nurse Shares Why He Chose Nursing

I'm sure many of you, like me, have been asked this very same question: "So, what made you go into nursing?"

Now there are a bevy of responses you could come up with.  There's the traditional response: "I want to help people!"

Then there is the spiritual response: "I felt called to it!"

I was asked this question at least a billion times during my time in college. So I came up with my own response: "I wanted to meet women!"

Guys who go into nursing get asked that question a lot! I'll be honest.  Before nursing school, I was actually a computer science major. I quickly realized that working on computers was not for me.  I enjoyed using them as an aid, but I didn't want to create them or build them.

So, there I was, a 19-year-old, single male with women on my mind!  And that was one thing the nursing program offered: a female-to-male ratio of 50 to 1 in some cases.  Surely, a guy like me could find a woman he cared about in that major?

As unbelievable as that sounds, that was one of the origins for why I chose nursing. But it's not why I stuck with it.

When I went into nursing, I didn't consider the negative stereotypes associated with male nurses. (Robert De Niro's character in Meet the Parents did a great job insulting male nurses everywhere--and creating more of a stigma.)  Working against those stereotypes has been tiresome. But I'm glad I've stuck with it, because I love the profession.

I honestly want to help people. To change lives. To make a difference. To do all those things that are "cliche"--but so true.

So why did you go into nursing-and what's keeping you in the profession?

Read more Seasoned with Sage articles

11 Responses to “A Male Nurse Shares Why He Chose Nursing”

  1. Brent Says:

    As nurse who is a male, It wasn’t til I moved into the Nurse’s home at Nursing school that I learnt and about ratios!The best three years of my life taught me so much about women that not only helped me with patients but also relationships!

    I picked nursing because my grades weren’t good enough for medicine. I acquired my street sense and am so proud of that sixth sense.

    What kept me in nursing was the opportunity to lead and influence, then my Coronary Care/ICU course. Nowadays working as a full time Paramedic keeps me in nursing because I don’t have to spend so much time with the bulldust and attitude that permeates the industry-especially at both ends of the scale-the juniors with no insight yet plenty of attitude to the old timers jaded and making th world pay.

    I enjoy making a difference and not just for my patients.

  2. Mr. C.V. Compton Shaw, R.N. Says:

    Mr. Thrift’s article clearly indicates that he is completely heterosexual.
    However, the stereotype of a male nurse is often that of the “Gaylord Fokker” type of male nurse.
    The same is identified as being gay, effiminate, feminist, and emotionally and intellectually trivial. That is “Gay”- “Lord” – “Fokker”.
    Without a doubt, you are now asserting that I am anti-gay. However, I am a very republican type of person that believes in equal rights and equal responsibilities for all, inclusive of gays(however, I am adamantly opposed to preferrential treatment of anyone). However, in my opinion, the “Gaylor Fokker”, type of male R.N. is the type of male nurse who is likely to be more successful in nursing than the traditionally male type of R.N.. Why? Our culture, especially the nursing-feminist-culture, has little tolerance for the masculine-gentleman type of male R.N..
    Our government and our laws give, in effect, complete discretion to the nursing profession to discriminate against men in education and employment with the result that there is both fewer men in nursing and of those that are in nursing the “Gaylord Fokker” type of male R.N. predominate.
    This Orwellian scenario,of course, should be justly addressed through appropriate leglislation. However, given the electoral demographics of our nation, that is highly unlikely

  3. Joseph J. Neuschatz M.D. Says:

    50 to 1 female-to-male ratio ? Now you tell me (LOL) ?

  4. Whitney Says:

    Well, being a “male nurse” has not been my experience, but I have worked with many nursing students who were male (including my very first class taught–comprised of more men than women, believe it or not [those guys must’ve been disappointed that first day!]) As an OB instructor, I taught the most dreaded and potentially perilous clinicals of their programme. And I never, once, considered it to be legal or even desirable to discriminate based on sex. As a matter of fact, in that first class I taught, one of the men did indeed graduate to a job in Labour and Delivery, where he worked successfully for two years, in part due to a letter of endorsement from me. How is that possible? Because the law does NOT allow secular hospitals to discriminate, and he was as fully qualified as any other candidate. And please don’t get me started on the nonsecular hospitals that are allowed to discriminate against legal medical procedures AND employees based on sex and yet still attain governmental (taxpayer) reimbursement…I’ll get a ganglion from rapid, angry typing!

    I agree that sex discrimination DOES exist, however I do not see it as being any more condoned by the laws of Canada and the U.S. (not sure about the U.K. but I assume there, too) as is discrimination against women. Just like with the feminists who have fought and continue to fight against workplace discrimination, I would encourage the men in the inverse situation to fight for their rights as well. Bitching feels good, believe me I know, but action and outcomes feel a whole lot better.

  5. Whitney Says:

    Perhaps a thread just to discuss media portrayals of nurses, male and female, would be in order. Personally, I haven’t met a nurse who is male with an opinion on the movie cited “Meet the Parents” who didn’t feel offended by it. I, on the other hand, chafed at Robert de Niro’s character’s pronouncements and taunts based on Gaylord’s profession and incorrectly assumed orientation, but felt that Ben Stiller’s character did a FANTASTIC job of portraying exactly why people gravitate to nursing. I suppose it is hard to see beyond the visceral response to the father-in-law’s rhetoric and realize that the movie did, indeed, portray all nurses, male and female, not as “doctor wannabe” (a stereotype that Brent unfortunately has perpetuated with his grades comment) or “butt-wiper” (no further comment) but as people who enjoy extended interactions with their patients.

  6. Joseph K. W. Says:

    I actually found that being a “male” nurse (still hate that we have to qualify our sex) has been beneficial. In response to Mr. Shaw’s reply, I too am heterosexual. But I believe that makes me very approachable to my coworkers. They seem to like it that I am into outdoor activities and are always interested in my mixed martial arts competitions. They know of my fiance and like her. I have organized trips out West with coworkers involving the Wilderness Medicine Institute’s certification programs for Medical professionals. Being a nurse and a guy’s guy has only made my work environment more enjoyable. I’m always invited out to drinks with them, to yoga, and snowboarding trips. I appreciate the invites whenever they are offered and I think they appreciate my interests as well.

  7. RehabRN Says:

    I work for the VA. Male nurses are prized. Most of our population is male.

    I have found that many of our veterans relate better to men than women.

  8. Ben Crandall Says:

    After 30 years of practice and teaching in my called profession I still cringe with the term “male nurse”. It was even difficult to type. There is quite amount of lierature documenting the derogatory history of the term. I, as is my brethern, simply RN’s.

    I haven’t seen the movie alluded to: but I have heard my students, both men & women, grumble about it!


    ben the RN

  9. Mr Ian Says:

    I still disagree – and Brian will be so pleased we’ve reignited the ‘male nurse’ debate. 😉

    There is a place in nursing for sexual discrimination – gender sensitive nursing is, to me, a highly acceptable part of the job.
    As for feeling discriminated against – no, I’m still not feeling it. I’m still more likely as a male to get a managerial job and less likely to get abuse from a doctor (male or female) – so it still balances in my male favour.

    But I work in mental health so I’m not amongst a minority generally. My local hospital does seem to have a higher female ratio – but I’m sure there’s no discrimination involved as they’re always under-staffed and would take anyone RN or EN (LPN) status of worth.

  10. bryn hagan Says:

    yes, i am a nurse, oh and i happen to be male. I loved ‘meet the parents’ every bit of it, as well as the sequel. Nearly bust a rib was laughing so hard.

  11. Jason R. Thrift Says:

    When I think back about the first time I saw “Meet the Parents” and the outright verbal attacks Greg (aka Gaylord) took from his soon-to-be father-in-law in regards to nursing, I didn’t consider the fact that Jack Burns (Robert De Niro) and the two doctors essentially attacked the entire profession of nursing in that film.

    One with Burns reference to nurse being “just a bunch of pill poppers, looking for some ludes” and the two doctors laughing when they thought Greg was joking about being in the medical field as a nurse. You can’t forget when Burns, when asked by Greg to stop making fun of him for being a nurse, replied, “Would you at least consider changing to another profession?”

    I loved the movie, more so for the uphill battle Greg had to endure with Jack Burns, but mostly because it showed, genuinely, what nursing is all about for males and females. It’s a constant uphill battle for respect, gratitude and fulfillment. Nurses have to endure these aspects everyday, not just from people like Jack Burns or the two doctors, but patients, ancillary staff, visitors, family, even other nurses sometimes. It’s beginning to change and the stigma of men being in the profession is lessening, but as with all things it will take time.

    But I was maybe off a little on the numbers, it was more like 70-1!lol

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