In my graduating class of 1978, there were four men, making up 13% of the students. It wasn’t until I moved into critical care and emergency nursing that I actually worked with men on the job. Most of them came to nursing as a second career.
The ubiquitiousness of men in nursing was brought home to me at the nurses’ station during a recent PM shift. There I sat, a lone molecule of estrogen in a sea of, well, guys. Three RNs, the doc, the ER tech, the unit clerk and a respiratory therapist. Men. Each and every one. The topic of conversation ranged from motorcycles to Nascar to who bench pressed how much in what gym. This was as far from the classic image of nursing as a female-based profession as you were ever going to get. With my usual air of prim professionalism and with the utmost reverence and respect, I listened to the banter… and proceded to imagine all of them in nurses’ caps. I guess the guys with shaved heads would have to glue them on.
We need nurses badly and recruiting tools that focus on men are one way of combating the shortage. This recruitment poster cut right to the chase and I’m sure it was effective in getting men who wouldn’t have otherwise considered nursing to give it a thought or two. It almost got it right. Intelligence. Courage. Skill. I’d add “caring” to that list. It’s what nurses do best. Male or female.