Men in Nursing: The Challenges of Men in a Female-Dominated Profession
For men in nursing, this rewarding career choice can often be strewn with challenges and obstacles. But, the challenges are starting to recede. Men are beginning to face fewer challenges in this field as time goes on, but there are a few things that still stand in the way.
Lack of Fitting Uniforms
Most websites selling nurse uniforms cater to women being that nursing is a historically female-dominated field. As such, male nurses find it difficult to find scrubs that are large enough and tailored toward the male anatomy. They need to be more narrow in the chest area, have longer torsos, broader shoulders, and a longer inseam to ensure a great fit.
How This is Changing – Fortunately for male nurses, there are more and more companies and websites dedicated to having at least a selection of male nurse scrubs. Murse World, in particular, is an exclusively male-oriented online scrub store. You’ll find different fits, styles, and patterns all in one place tailored specifically for men.
Lack of Male Role Models
While it’s normal to see a male in the doctor’s role, having a male nurse for a role model may be more difficult to achieve. Although there is nothing wrong with a male nurse having a female nurse role model, there may be things that a male nurse can’t comfortably address with a female like they would a male.
How This is Changing – More and more males are beginning to go into nursing as a profession. For example, the number of male nurses who went to school for a Doctorate or Master’s degree in nursing jumped from 1,000 to 4,000 in a few years.
Perceived as Less Compassionate
When people think of compassionate nurses, the female nurse in a white nursing uniform is always one of the top images that come to mind. Male nurses typically get the view of being rough, not as caring, and more irritable. This less compassionate view can come from both the male nurse’s collegues and from the patients that the male nurses care for.
How This is Changing – As more men continue to enter the nursing workforce, both nurses and patients are starting to realize that this stereotype simply isn’t true. Male nurses go into this field because they care about their patients and their outcomes.
Many male nurses find themselves a victim of role expectations in the workplace. For example, many of their female colleagues ask them to lift heavy objects or heavy patients simply because they have the role expectation that their male colleagues are stronger and more muscled because they’re male. On the other side of the coin, outsiders see male nurses as more feminine for their career choice.
How This is Changing – People’s role expectations are slowly starting to evolve as more male nurses take on roles throughout the hospital. People are starting to realize that they shouldn’t try to enforce typical gender stereotypes on their colleagues, and see them as a nurse first and foremost.
Differing Communication Styles
Males and females have a different communication style. This means that male nurses used to have to conform and learn the female communication style because they took a career in a female-dominated industry. This can make professional interactions difficult, especially in stressful environments like in an emergency room or in labor and delivery.
How This is Changing – Hospitals and medical facilities are starting to shift their communication styles to be more professional between colleagues. This removes some of the gender-based communication, and it can make it easier for male and female nurses to interact and understand each other.
Barred from Obstetrics
Most obstetrics patients don’t have a problem with having a male doctor present during their birth. However, they seem to have a big problem with male nurses, and this is why hospitals barred male nurses from obstetrics for many, many years. There was no discussion about it, and male nurses knew that they simply weren’t allowed in labor and delivery.
How This is Changing – While this is still an ongoing issue, male nurses are no longer barred from labor and delivery. Some patients may request a female nurse, but male nurses do also work in this department with great success.
Shortage of Male Nurses
The healthcare industry’s need for nurses and the number of nurses available is quickly becoming wider and wider. Male nurses are less common, and the demand for them is going up as well. This means that there isn’t a shortage of jobs available, and the demand continues to rise.
How This is Changing – The number of males going into the nursing field continues on a steady climb. Numbers are up from years ago, and more males are starting to take interest due to guaranteed jobs and high job security.
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Men in nursing do face a variety of unique challenges and hurdles that they have to overcome. However, each day brings more awareness to the fact that male nurses can be a valuable part of any hospital team, and that they’re an excellent way to add diversity into a hospital staff.