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'Nursing should be viewed as an inclusive workforce'

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It’s time to dispel the stereotypical global view that the nursing profession belongs only to women.

laura jayne matthews

Laura Jayne Matthews

I’ve witnessed paediatric patients and their families question why men are nurses, rather than doctors, as “girls are nurses, boys are doctors”.

This view is outdated and can be easily solved with the recruitment of more men to nursing. There are many men working across nursing today, but the future calls for more across all fields to fully diversify.

I’m following the explosive Twitter movement #MenInNursing and have witnessed how loud the voices of all nurses are on this topic – and the encouragement and confidence to embrace more men into the profession.

It makes me proud that nursing has amazing people to banish these outdated assumptions.

In my experience on placements, working with male nurses has been beneficial to my learning. They were more down to earth and helpful than some of my female mentors; this helped me massively as personally, I get on more with men than women. It made me feel more relaxed and part of the team – like being with friends.

I’m currently finishing my second year of university in a paediatric nursing degree, with only three men in a cohort of 115 – the same number of men we started with. They demonstrate such commitment to nursing; one is a class representative, one is my best friend and they are treated no differently by anyone.

”Nursing is not reserved for a specific gender”

My best friend is a male student nurse learning with the rest of us. He is an inspiration to myself, a role model to his patients and has been through a really personal journey to be a nurse (as most of us have).

He has the same ambition, compassion and caring nature we were all selected for, which is what the voice of nurses everywhere are screaming across all social media platforms.

Nursing is not reserved for a specific gender. History has proven that women can do all manner of work to become judges, prime ministers, businesswomen, CEOs, executives, writers, engineers, doctors, policewomen and surgeons – so why can’t the reverse be true? Why can’t men be nurses?

If they have the same caring nature and drive that women have – why can’t they do the same work women do? It should not matter to patients if nurses are male or female, what matters is that they get high quality care from a nurse.

We all train the same way, wear the same uniform, care for the same patients and represent the same standards of nursing.

I’ve recently read a 30-year book that talks about the outdated rituals (of that time), and how it’s a sexist notion that men who are nurses are somehow different nurses to their female counterparts.

”Nursing should not be viewed by the world as a sexist workforce, but an inclusive one”

Even 30 years on, the notion may have disappeared within nursing, but the global stigma still exists. Men may be deterred from applying for nursing education because it can be seen as “women’s work” when the opposite is true.

Nursing is the most inclusive culture in the world and does not discriminate of gender, race, disability or sexuality. As soon as this message is made clear to the world, men will consider this choice more, hence the movement on Twitter.

Nursing should not be viewed by the world as a sexist workforce, but an inclusive one.

We have changed the title of “sister” to “ward manager” for equal opportunity, so it should be emphasised that men can enter nursing and overcome the equality gap made by centuries of a women-dominated profession.

Laura Jayne Matthews is a second-year student children’s nurse

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Readers' comments (1)

  • As a Male Nurse of over 30 years qualified I have experienced in the beginning a lot of prejudices including being told that I must be gay as only gay men become Nurses and memorably on my paediatric placement while training that "Men shouldn't be Nurses and I was wasting every bodies time" I was then banished to the sluice where except for a rather memorable night shift when i was left to feed and change a number of babies I spent my entire placement washing bed pans and similar. I have over the years found this type of attitude has lessened and the public has become far more accepting of us in the profession which is good. The strange thing I found in certainly in my early career that Ladies seemed to have less of a problem being looked after buy a man than a lot of the male patients the exception being pre op pubic shaves I recall. Before the days of on call security staff it mainly fell to the Male Nurses and Dr s to deal with violent patients and visitors, I am still old fashioned enough to prefer somebody to attack me instead of a female colleague and please don't think I am sexist as I have spent far too many years in Nursing working with exceptional colleagues female and male but mainly female and have always thought of it as being an honour to be told I am an honorary one of the girls. Men have a lot to bring to all areas of Nursing and like women we each have something particular to our gender but I agree with the article we still have a way to go in some areas to be fully accepted but I have seen in my career big changes in this which are continuing. Some of the most influential and inspiring colleagues I have met and had the pleasure of working with have been my female colleagues and that camaraderie we have enjoyed both in work and socialising, I have and still am proud to be classed as "one of the girls" respected by them for my work as a Nurse and a member of the team. The Ward Sister who started me on this career said go for it you will love and to her credit she was right.

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