Ask a male nurse

A similar thread from an ER doc inspired me to join the fun. I’m a pediatric RN with more than 15 years experience, working in an urban hospital on the west coast.

To quote from the good doctor’s initial post (and hoping he doesn’t mind):

So, ask away!

If two women are sitting together in a room, which is smarter?

If you get that, I love you.

Okay, for real: Do you ever have parents request a female nurse for their child?

I’ll have to think on that a minute.

Yeah, once in a while. Often it is a cultural thing (many mid-eastern mothers request a female nurse the second I enter the room); other times, the mom just feels uncomfortable with a guy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Dad request a female nurse (insert sexual comment here), nor a parent request a female for their male child.

Also, I’ve never known of a request for a female physician, regardless of the circumstances.

Deciding/going to school to become a nurse, did you get a lot of flack from family and friends?

Do you ever find being a male nurse is easier/harder than it would being a female nurse?

I’ll be all over this one and I really do need the advice from a male nurse. I have already gotten a little from a couple of others. I have a college degree in the biological sciences and even a little med school via the grad school program I went to but I work in corporate IT and I am getting sick of corporate America. I think I want to make a career change into nursing. I am 36 and my family will pay for all of the schooling if they think it will make me happy. The problem is that I don’t know the answer to that. The academics are no problem and I am not squeamish in the least and I am very caring if not a little detached but I don’t have much experience in the field to know for sure.

I think I would be good in one of the more “manly” nursing roles like ER nursing from what I have seen up close. Tell me the good and the bad about what you know from a male nurse perspective and please be brutally honest because I am literally trying to make some big decisions right now. How does the gender dynamic play out in the field for males in the field?

No, not at all. Everyone was extremely supportive.

Both, of course. Harder because I’m often (alright, always) the first one a co-worker comes to when someone heavy has to be lifted, something mechanical is broken, something must be loosened, or a computer is acting stupid. The novelty of that wears off pretty quick. Also, I have to be careful as to certain situations I might find myself in (being alone with a female patient, for example).

Easier? Hmmmm…I can lift things, fix mechanical things, loosen things and fix computers without asking someone else for help. :smiley: Seriously, I think some physicians may respect me a bit more - maybe even subconsciously - because I’m a male. I’m not saying it’s fair, just saying it happens. Also, sometimes it’s fun being the only…er…cock in the henhouse. So to speak.

Will it make you happy? I’m not sure I would word it that way, but I find it very rewarding. From your brief description it sounds like you might be a good fit.

I’ve never considered ER nursing ‘manly’, not sure where you got that impression. You’re still going to be passing out bedpans and wiping snotty noses. Please don’t let the entertainment media delude you.

Males have advantages, to be sure; see my previous reply for a few. I think, as a male nurse, you are generally respected first by your peers - given a free pass, let’s say - until you F-up and lose that respect. For females, I think it often works in reverse; that is, they must earn the respect of their female co-workers, it is not automatic. I hope this makes some sense. And women can be vicious. Trust me.

I’ve heard from many female nurses that nurses “eat their young” - that young nurses get discouraged by older evil bitch nurses. Is that true for male nurses as well, or do you get a pass?

That is the part I am worried about. I worked in an all female lab in grad school with a female advisor and it didn’t go down well even though I didn’t do anything wrong. I know I could do the actual job well and I am very female friendly but I also know that some of them can be absolutely brutal when they get any sort of power at all and make your life miserable if you don’t play the game exactly right and maybe not even then. I don’t want to repeat that ever again. Does that happen extremely often?

This is a common expression in nursing, and there is a good bit of truth to it. This sounds sexist, but I believe it has a lot to do with the fact that nursing is 95%+ female (and before you jump all over me for saying this, know that many female nurses agree).

Male nurse ‘get a pass’ initially, generally speaking, but it can go south if you’re a jerk-off. I’ve seen newbie men reduced to tears - quite recently, in fact - by more experienced females in a supervisory capacity.

But don’t let any of this steer you away if it’s what you want to do. Most of my colleagues over the years have been great, and more than a few, absolutely awesome. And boss-wise, I’ve been extremely fortunate.

Can you describe the school portion of your training?

I’m seriously considering a career switch to RN should I get laid off, going into either ER or Critical Transport. The minimal research I’ve done says I can get a Nursing AS in a little more than half the customary time because I have 2 BSen already.

The man speaks wisdom re “eating their young”. Nursing can be wonderfully rewarding, but rose colored glasses re “angels of mercy” have got to be discarded. Nurses are people, with the same foibles and weaknesses. Add to that huge responsibilities with very little authority, limited time and resources, and it can get ugly quickly.

I have a lot of respect for male nurses–until they prove otherwise. IOW, it can be very hard to generalize about a segment of any population. I’ve worked with male nurses who were fantastic, and ones who were abysmal. Ditto female nurses.

I do think male nurses are often considered to be doctors by patients(even when the male RN repeatedly tells them different), and that their authority is more quickly recognized by pts and their families at times. I have also seen them frustrated by female pts who refuse to let them do their job–there are VERY few male nurses in OB–OBs loss, IMO.
And there are still stereotypes out there which are ridiculous: they’re gay or they couldn’t handle medical school (women get that last one, too, sometimes).
Purely anecdotal: a good looking, young male nurse can wreak havoc in the nurse’s station (not necessarily with the other RNs, but with ancillary staff; but also sometimes with nurses, sad to say.) The only case (that went all the way up to admin etc) of sexual harassment that I know of was of a female RN against a male nurse. He won–and rightly so; she de-pants him in the nurse’s station “as a joke”. And sometimes, males RNs do not recognize female authority, but this is rare. Mostly they’re just trying to do their (impossible at times) job.

I have a number of relatives in nursing. My mom and her sister are retired RN’s, two cousins and a second cousin also. One cousin and the second cousin are guys. Both said they got asked “couldn’t you hack it in med school?” when they told folks about their career choice. (BTW, it wasn’t from family, but friends)

Did you ever get asked that question?

I could care less the gender of my nurse or doctor.

Do I know you?:smiley:

I’ve worked in PICUs up and down the west coast, however, I’ve been retired for 10 years.

In regards to ER nursing not being “manly”, I’ve heard that ER and psych nursing are by far the most common specializations among men. Have you found that to be so? Is that just because there’s a benefit to being strong, to restrain patients? The adrenaline rush? Have you ever noticed men pushed towards those areas of nursing?

Having a BSN in another field can generally put you on a fast-track; you can typically become an RN in a year and a half.

I’m not sure what a “Nursing AS” is. Associates? That is an ADN.

I have never been asked that, as far as I can remember. I do get called ‘doctor’ fairly regularly.

I dunno. Do I know you?? :smiley:

That sounds like a reasonable assumption, I guess, but it has not been my experience. I’ve only been in a psych facility in school many years ago, and I don’t recall very many male RNs there (although I’m sure there were also a few male assistive personnel).

As for ER (ummm…*ED), *there are only 2 or 3 male RNs in the ED of the hospital I work at, which is, by and large, the typical ratio for any area of the hospital.

Do you use the term “male nurse” in real life?