Men in Nursing: Part 1, Tom’s story

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Tom is a mature aged student at Sydney University, next year he will graduate with his nursing degree and plans to move to a rural hospital as rural health is of particular interest to him.

In Tom’s nursing school, the ratio of female to male students is about 90:10. Tom believes encouraging more men into nursing could help resolve the nursing shortage in Australia.

“(It) could turn the nursing shortage around and provide a diverse work force which would be beneficial to all aspects of nursing.”

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A male pediatric nursing on the childrens ward.

We chatted to him about men in nursing and his thoughts on historical stereotypes, his university experience, and path that led him to where he is now.

What led you to this profession?

“I have always had the capacity to care. I was raised in a family that valued being a good person and caring about other people and doing the right thing.

Nursing made perfect sense to me as a career choice I liked the medical environment and professional aspects of nursing. I have always enjoyed people from young to old and I wanted to do nursing 20 years ago (my family could not comprehend why) I had the grades to do anything I wanted but unfortunately I did not have the support to follow nursing and was encouraged to be a doctor.

I knew that I did not want to be a doctor. I did not like their lack of involvement with patients. So I started a veterinary degree that morphed into a business degree and led me to a career in the corporate sales arena.
I decided four years ago it was time to pursue my dreams and I started university studies as a mature age student. This time I am doing exactly what I want to do!”

In 2011, do you think men in nursing are still seen as unusual in that they work in a predominantly female occupation?

“I don’t feel it’s as bad as it was in the past but there is plenty of room for change!”

Are there certain nursing specialties that attract more male nurses?

“I feel mental health is an area more accepting of male nurses— but not all men want to nurse in mental health. I feel male nurses are just like any other nurse they have areas of interest that they want to specialize in that involve all aspects of nursing.”

In the past some men had their masculinity questioned being a male nurse, why do you think this happened and does it still happen?

“Unfortunately lack of intelligence is just as prevalent today as it was in the past. Masculinity comes from with in not by what some one does for a job. Should we be questioning someone’s/ each other’s sexuality in the work place? I think is the question we as nurses should be reflecting on.”

Is there a notion that caring is a difficult task for men?

“No, I don’t feel society feels caring is uniquely feminine ability any more than they believe being a political leader is a uniquely masculine ability.”

What do you think needs to be done to encourage more male students to nursing school?

“Stronger support for men in nursing at the University level and in the work place. Community education via public media would also help to bring this change about. Men make great nurses let’s tell those stories. Nursing is a great profession it should be a choice for all persons no matter what sex they are.”

Thanks Tom, we think this is very true “Men make great nurses let’s tell those stories”. We want to hear from you. Are you a male nurse? Do you want to be interviewed via email? Send us an email and let us know if you are interested: admin@nurseuncut.com.au

Image credit: NSWNA

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Good work Tommy, there are a lot of nursing students these days who have careers and degrees of all sorts to fall back on, that really just want to care for people, but be involved in the medical field at a hands on level. It is great to hear your story, and who ever ends up working with you will really gain from your experience.

  2. Just wanted to lend my voice to the positive comments by our male professional nurses out there. The diversity of roles within nursing is open for all male or female. I have been involved in nursing for over twenty years from that of an AIN to an EN to recently graduated RN. I believe the profession of nursing needs to be promoted for what it is, a rewarding, challenging and highly professional career path, the clossy ads from media show the caring side of nursing, yes its vital and important, but there is so much more to nursing, the high level of skills and knowledge but to name a few. To my colleques and peers out there, well done and keep up your valued and respected roles as nurses, male or female.

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