Male Nurse Stereotypes and Discrimination
Ben Stiller in the movie Meet the Parents encountered most of the stereotypes and discrimination cast at male nurses today. He was regarded as a man trying to succeed in a woman’s profession, which made him, at least in his detractors’ eyes, unsuccessful.
He was a fictional character, but his dilemma is real; many sectors of society still regard male nursing as the wrong profession for a man. Men have been nursing since the days of Christ (St. Bartholomew and St. John both tended the sick); Gallic warriors nursed their own wounded; African male slaves nursed troops in the Civil War. Despite all this, 40 years ago, male nurses were usually prevented from examining a woman, or observing her delivering a baby. Even today, most nursing classes still salt their terminology with female pronouns.
Make no mistake, the lingering stereotype is still there, despite the fact that over 5.4 percent of the two million RNs in the United States are male, and about 13% of the enrollees in nursing schools are men. Minority men are equally frowned upon by some factions. Education and changing hearts and minds seems to be the answer, and, like the gay population is discovering in today’s society and the African American population realized in the sixties, change in attitudes can be effected over time.
Meanwhile, sign up for that nursing program, gentlemen! Here’s how:
How to Become a Male Nurse
Make sure you are admitted to a progressive nursing school that supports males in the profession. Male faculty members and male students should be in evidence; admission personnel should be open about campus attitudes, especially in terms of clinical experiences in local hospitals.
If you do experience a problem, make staff aware of it immediately.
Be aware that women will continue to dominate the nursing profession, so make sure you professional, courteous and relatable to both genders. And just hang in there, because there still a social jealousy about male nurses being specifically involved in female health (particularly in gynecology, obstetrics and pediatrics).
Finally remember, a patient who is sick or in pain just wants a nurse. He or she doesn’t want a gender introduction, stereotype discussion or rant, just pain relief and treatment. And if you win your patient over with your skills and bedside manner, score one for the men’s side in nursing.
Grants and Scholarships for Male Nursing Students
There are literally hundreds of online grants and scholarships available for nurses, and the applications and selection process are by law non-discriminatory and accepting of candidates of either gender. Some examples include:
- Education Start offers nurses of either gender who are already enrolled in a nursing program $12,000 scholarships ($3,000 awarded quarterly) based on need and level of academic achievement.
- SGNA RN General Education Scholarship provides $2500 annually to full-time students who are working toward their RN license.
- Barry and Julia Smith Family Nurse Scholarships offer $1,000 annually to full-time students working toward a hospice or end of life career.
There is only one organization that offers scholarships specific to male applicants:
- The American Assembly for Men in Nursing offers the John R. Murray and the Jadah Marselis Moore scholarships, awarded for essays whose topics are specific to experiences in the nursing profession; this appears to be a possible way to take a discriminatory situation in your scholastic career and turn it into funding.
Other possible grant/scholarship resources include the National Coalition of Ethnic and Minority Nurse Associations, National Association of Hispanic Nurses and National Black Nurses Association.
Male Nurse Jobs and Salaries
The Bureau of Labor/Statistics indicates that RNs and Nursing specialties in either gender are growing quickly—a low ballpark figure of 9% job growth vs. a somewhat more balanced possibility, 20% and higher, for the years from 2013 to 2018. Numerous websites throughout the internet, such as Hire.com and simplyhired.com list hundreds of male nurse jobs.
Finally, there is a piece of good news; it is possible male nurses are being paid more than females. The average salary for a male RN is $65,000-70,000; for a female, it usually averages $60,000.
So, men, bear up under that stereotype, and realize that Men in Nursing have a place in the medical world!