Men In Nursing: The Tide is Turning
MALE NURSES UNITE!!!
Nursing is a profession dominated by females for centuries (and more really), but men have always played an integral role since the first recorded nursing school in India 250 BC. Nowadays more and more men are graduating from nursing school than ever before, and for good reason too. I really had no idea when I had decided to go to nursing school how it was going to change my life.
I can't remember a time in my life I didn't want to be a doctor. My grandfather was a doctor, my Uncle Mark is a doctor, My Aunt Phebe is a doctor, and my sweet cousin Alexandra is SOON-TO-BE Dr. Alexandra Ward! (I'm so pumped for you! Congratulations!) So why am I a nurse you might ask. The better question you SHOULD be asking is why are so many men becoming nurses? This is a great question! (Read on)
I moved to Louisiana from Colorado upon graduating high school. Because I was an out of state resident, tuition costs were crazy high. So I decided to go to work for a year, make a little money, and go to college once I became a resident of Louisiana. It would've worked just right but the job I found was as an offshore oilfield worker (roughneck) and paid BIG money. When I attempted to get into college, I had made too much money to qualify for financial aid. So I kept working...until I was laid off.
Eventually when I finally got back into college (years later) I decided to get a degree in Nursing rather than taking the traditional route and majoring in Pre-Med or Biology or another applied science. My logic was, "What if I don't get into Med School right away? Then what? I'm not teaching material." I figured if I get a nursing degree and DON'T get into med school right away at least I'll have a great foundation as a nurse and I'd stay sharp until I get into med school. It made perfect sense! I was a little reluctant because I was a dude, but hey I'm secure. Plus, I'll be going to med school anyway.
Little did I know, this was the BEST DECISION I'D EVER MAKE in my life up to that point! The nursing profession is like a secret treasure that no one knows about. Being a nurse has SO MANY ADVANTAGES, and being a MALE nurse is just the cherry on top (sorry ladies)!
Anyway, the first 2 1/2 years of college is the same for everyone, but once you get into Nursing Clinicals that's when the fun begins (and when I say fun I mean tortuous journey to the deepest depths of hell). Guys and girls going through nursing school experience the same issues UNTIL the Women's Health clinical rotation. This was the most challenging for me because I was still expected to get the work done, but most women don't want a male nurse, much less a male nursing student, in on the action.
My last semester was critical care. I spent the majority of my time in the Emergency Room or ICU. In these areas, I got to be around Intensivists and ER Doctors a lot. I was surprised when I was told by a few of them that if they knew what they were getting into they would have done something different. Many of them described the pressures of being a doctor in a changing healthcare climate. They also talked about the cost of being a doctor (little to no social life, outrageous school loans, outrageous malpractice insurance rates, costs associated with running a Medical Practice, etc). I was shocked! (See the CNN Money article "Doctor's Going Broke".)
By the time I finished nursing school I was certain that nursing was for me. After my first year of working as a Male Nurse, I was absolutely certain! My first year out of school I worked as an ICU nurse. It was challenging, but I learned so much. Someone said I should look into something called Travel Nursing. I did and it was GOOD!
Travel nursing is when you work WITH a nursing staffing agency that places you in hospitals around the U.S. that you choose for a determined amount of time (most contracts are 13 weeks). Pay close attention, this is the best part. They pay you GOOD MONEY and you are only required to work 3 days a week. They pay your rent. They pay your living expenses. They even pay you to relocate to your next location! It's aweome.
I've been a nurse now since 2008. My time as a nurse has been in critical areas only. The Emergency Rooms and Intensive Care Units have been the best learning experiences and I highly recommend them if you're having a difficult time deciding on which route to pursue. One thing is for sure though. As a male, you have specific qualities that will allow you to accel in these areas:
-Male nurses are suited for the pressures and excitements of nursing
-Male nurses adapt, improvise and overcome
-Male nurses are dedicated
-Male nurses offer a different perspective to the profession
-Male nurses level-headed, compassionate, yet firm; and exercise good judgement
-Nursing is perfect for men who are after a high adrenalin, physical profession that is flexible, never boring and allows them to travel the world
(excerpted from http://aamn.org/docs/Shaffer_MenasLeaders.pdf)
As I said above, the tide is turning in the nursing profession. The number of male nurses are increasing year after year. In the US alone male nurses make up 10% of the nursing population. This means HUGE opportunity for you as a male. Not just to make some great money, but to really make a name for yourself in the nursing industry. I hope you give the nursing industry a strong consideration. Like me, it could be the best decision you ever make for yourself and your future family.
I've just recently decided to take the leap and become an advanced practice nurse (APN). I've begun pursuing my Masters of Science in Nursing degree with a specialty as a Family Nurse Practitioner. This is going to be an exciting journey and a great adventure.
What reasons did you pursue nursing? What are the biggest benefits to being a nurse to you? A male nurse? Share your thoughts below. I read every post! Also, if you've not subscribed to my blog, please do! I can't wait to connect with you. Plus you'll be missing out on some cool giveaways if you don't.
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