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.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credit: NSWNA