When Michael Owens finished a tour of duty from the Army as a medic, it just seemed natural for him to finish his degree in nursing. Although his decision was a surprise to some of his friends, Michael never has “defined his masculinity” by labels that would prevent him from doing the job he is skilled at and has learned to love.
“After all,” he said in a recent interview, “what could be manlier than helping people to get well and be there for their family?”
As a registered nurse in the city of Miami, Michael is proud that his occupation has provided him with a high job satisfaction, financial security, and an excellent salary despite the economic downturn of the recession.
Fortunately, many more men are breaking the stereotypes and entering the nursing profession. With higher salaries available, more high-tech fields opening and a business that embraces what men can bring to the healthcare table, nursing is attracting more men than ever before.
Since the 1970s, men have slowly trickled into the nursing profession. Although census.gov has reported that there is less than 10 percent of male registered nurses in 2012, men have still managed to make positive impacts on a traditionally female-dominated role.
“Men are needed in nursing to care for other men as well as women and children,” says Michael. “Men tend to approach nursing with a different perspective that requires empathy from a man’s point of view. It is a very masculine job that provides me with new challenges every day.”
Michael also added that he believes more men are entering nursing because it is a solid career choice that has numerous options that appeal to men in a number of areas. “Male nurses tend to gravitate towards the high-technical areas and physical intensity requirements of critical care, flight rescue teams and emergency care nursing.”
Real Men in Nursing
The professor of nursing science at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, Dr. Sakshi Mubadhira, explains that men are a good fit for nursing and have made considerable strides in caring for patients. “A new trend in the attitudes of men has shown that they do not allow their masculinity to be defined by stereotypes and gender biases,” said Dr. Mubadhira. “We also need men to enter nursing and help alleviate the nursing shortages that appear throughout the country.”
Historically, male nurses have nursed the sick during the plagues that swept through Europe in the 3rd century and risked their lives to care for victims of the Black Death in the 14th century. Men in the military continue to provide care in the hospitals and on the battlefield. Gender bias towards male nurses is a modern convention that has no basis in fact or reason.
Although Michael admits that he has raised a few eyebrows on older patients that are not comfortable with having a male nurse, he also concluded that after a few moments in his care, his patients have relaxed and found the experience interesting and affable. “I am comfortable with caring for the sick and dying, and I am very proud to be a male registered nurse.”