I was always a source of curiosity; a male in a female-dominated profession.The male patients always assumed I was an orderly or a janitor.When I clarified, stating that I was the nurse, the patients would look at me blankly. They would answer calmly, “Nope, I’m happy being a nurse.” The female nurses also accepted me as part of the team.
I choose pediatrics, as it seemed more applicable to my ultimate goal to be an ER nurse.
Jake, a fellow male nurse, choose labor and delivery and was constantly telling horror stories.
People in pediatrics, on the other hand, accepted me like they would any other nurse. My classmates even campaigned for me, prodding me to ask our instructor out on a date once they found out we were both born in 1972. I was ignored, shunned, and talked down to until I got the point. I watched and learned how they coolly corrected anyone who mistook them for the janitor.
(She politely declined.) After I graduated, my first job was in the intensive care unit of a medium-sized hospital. Again, I found that I was either the doctor or the orderly. “Yeah, it was a special course I had to take to add the ‘male’ part,” I shot back. I watched how they answered when the little old ladies asked if they were trying to go to medical school.
Meanwhile, the female patients would address me as “doctor,” and when I would correct them and say I was a nursing student, Clinical practice is where I met my first real resistance to men in nursing.
Nursing students in my school were allowed to choose between a pediatric rotation or labor and delivery.Every once in a while Jeff, Scott, and I would all be on shift together and joke that the balance of testosterone had shifted.My new position was great, save for one ugly incident.At the same time, I willingly take on belligerent drunks during my shifts, and let them run their mouth to me.(Don’t forget, I was once a competitive bodybuilder.Now, 12 years later, most patients barely blink when walk in and say, “I’m the nurse.” They’ve already been cared for by Dan, seen John walking around, or have had Stone fetch water for them when they rang.