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Do Male Nurses Face Gender Bias in Nursing Education?

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SafetyNurse1968 has 20 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, PhD and specializes in Oncology, Home Health, Patient Safety.

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Can gender bias affect a male nursing student's career path?

This article discusses gender bias from the perspective of the nursing student. Men are a minority in the nursing profession and may face bias that can have a negative impact on their self-concept and career path. Solutions for dealing with gender bias are included. You are reading page 2 of Do Male Nurses Face Gender Bias in Nursing Education?. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

Are you a male nurse?

  1. 1. Do you identify as a male nurse?

    • Yes
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    • No
      18

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booter512 has 22 years experience and specializes in Diabetes, Transplant, CCU, Neurology.

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One of the best units I've ever worked was the CCU at the Univ of California, Davis.  When Jim and I started there, we were the 1st nurses to start in that unit in 5 years.  We were now staffed 40% male, 60% female (Well, 1 of the males used to be a female), but he was the darling of all the older nurses' hearts.  We were all close, often went out and ate breakfast together, some of us socialize together.  It was a great unit.  

Then I moved across the country to Virginia.  My last job, I was a shift resource nurse (but in staffing), and the only male on my unit.  I did 4 10-hr shifts--9P-7A.  Other nurses would say, "I'm so glad you're here", "the place just takes on a calm when you're seen coming in".  I had a great relation with most doctors of which many young nurses were half way afraid of. There needs to be a more even balance between men and women in my opinion.  My wife works a Surg/Trauma ICU, and she said working with all the other nurses being male is when the shift goes smoothest.  Her unit has about 30 men now.

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How many of your students are actually male and don't just identify as men? Serious question. 

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I am so glad that I was able to read an article that described me to a T. Unfortunately my story didnt end as well as some. Going through school,  I have always been a hands on learner. If you put a book In front of me I will struggle.  If you put in the floor learning new techniques,  researching peoples labs ect I thrive. When i was in nursing school i felt like it was an uphill battle for me. I felt like teachers responded to me differently.  When i made it through my first 2 semesters, the 3rd semester was OB/peds in 7 weeks. Every clinical I had, I was stuck in the nursery because the nurses were forced to not only ask if they were comfortable with a nursing student (that's their right) but they always had to put a big exclamation point on MALE nursing student. It wasnt until the final clinical day that I had a receptive patient who allowed me to care for her. I witnessed rupture to birth in less than 6 hours. Best experience ever......until I went back to class. I got with my class instructor to review an exam I failed. Which wasnt new to me. When going over the exam afterwards,  post this clinical,  I was able to answer every question I got wrong correct except only a slight few. When asked why I didnt get this right before, my answer for each question was the same " if I would have had an active laboring patient who was willing to accept me before this, I would have been good with this question ". Now for the real kicker, I get done this exam review,  I'm feeling confident in myself, telling myself I still have a chance to pass this class. The instructor thought this would be an appropriate time to tell me that during that last clinical where I had my best experience, that a complaint was filed against me for refusal to provide patient care. Miraculously, the things that I "refused" the instructor played stupid when she asked me why I didnt do those things when in the long run, she was the one who told the class we weren't allowed to do those things. Now, I am without a nursing program after failing the final, and examining new career choices because no other nursing school will take me.  Throughout my whole experience,  I noticed others givin countless opportunities that I myself had to either work harder for or not given at all. Not saying that all of this was because I'm a guy, but I can bet parts were. Hey, I came, i tried, i was defeated, and now I'm searching for new opportunities. 

Edited by Mike15698

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OUxPhys has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Cardiology.

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First, either you are a male or you aren't. I don't understand the "identify as a male nurse".

I was 1 of 10 males in my nursing program. In my opinion they want more male nurses because patients are getting heavier. I do notice that the male nurses are called for everything: getting a patient up, turning, transporting, unruly patient, etc. There are some meme's out there that while they are funny they are also pretty accurate.

I believe men were discouraged from going into nursing because for the longest time if you were a male and you went into nursing you were considered, how do I say it gently, "not masculine". In my experience that seems to be the complete opposite. I will say though Ive never been asked "why not become a doctor?" but I have been asked a-lot if I plan on becoming a NP (which I do not).

Regarding OB, Im 100% fine with not being given the same access that female nurses are awarded. I told my OB rotation instructor I am here to get my C so I can move on. When I did have a female OB patient that allowed care I had a female nursing student or the instructor with me at all times, especially in the times we live in today. 

Does being a male hinder their career? I don't think it does. If anything I think it accelerates it. Let's be honest, male nurses are treated differently than female nurses. I heard it all the time from my female co-workers. Some doctors talked to and treated male nurses better than female nurses.

I think men in nursing will continue to grow but I don't think it will ever be a male dominated field like physicians (although there continue to be more women in medicine, which is a good thing). 

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LPN_Computer_Guy is a LPN, LVN and specializes in LPN.

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I've been a male nurse for 4 years. In the jobs I've had, each one has been more than welcoming of me coming on board. Some places even said they were looking for a male nurse. Maybe the initial poster lives in an area or region where he has had different experiences than me being in Indiana but I haven't had any problem or felt any prejudice being a male nurse. Occasionally I've gotten from a patient, "I'd prefer a female" but that's been rare.

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SafetyNurse1968 has 20 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, PhD and specializes in Oncology, Home Health, Patient Safety.

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16 hours ago, FullGlass said:

As for "Meet the Fockers," that movie did the opposite of perpetuate stereotypes.  Ben Stiller, the male nurse, earned the respect and trust of his father-in-law.  Subsequent movies showed him moving into a management role and being very successful.  That movie was a great role model for potential male nurses and showed a male nurse in a very positive light.

I agree that our profession could use some more outreach to let young men know that nursing can be a great career.  But I am not going to view male nurses as being victims.  

 

I didn't even think about the rest of the movies - it's been years since I've seen them. Thanks for pointing out Focker's success in later movies. As far as being victims, I hope I didn't paint that picture. I was hoping to start a dialogue about the idea of gender bias, so thank you for reading and commenting!

15 hours ago, Cowboyardee said:

I've encountered the occasional whiff of bias (or even outright bias), but these are exception to the rule and haven't seriously affected my life or career. And anyway, biases cut both ways. 

What I've always found more significant, as a straight male nurse in a long-term relationship, is that gender dynamics keep me from socializing with my coworkers (the majority of whom are straight women) as readily as they tend to socialize with each other. The specter of firing up the workplace rumor mill or of  misinterpreted intentions makes it easiest to just socialialize more rarely in large groups or primarily with the other male nurses. Of course there have been plenty of exceptions - friends I've made, welcoming and inclusive coworkers - but it just seems like there's a bit of a barrier to workplace camaraderie when you're enough of a minority in the environment.

Its no one's fault and I'm not trying to complain about it by the way. 

I never even thought about the issue of socializing. Thanks for pointing that out.

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SafetyNurse1968 has 20 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, PhD and specializes in Oncology, Home Health, Patient Safety.

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9 hours ago, booter512 said:

One of the best units I've ever worked was the CCU at the Univ of California, Davis.  When Jim and I started there, we were the 1st nurses to start in that unit in 5 years.  We were now staffed 40% male, 60% female (Well, 1 of the males used to be a female), but he was the darling of all the older nurses' hearts.  We were all close, often went out and ate breakfast together, some of us socialize together.  It was a great unit.  

Then I moved across the country to Virginia.  My last job, I was a shift resource nurse (but in staffing), and the only male on my unit.  I did 4 10-hr shifts--9P-7A.  Other nurses would say, "I'm so glad you're here", "the place just takes on a calm when you're seen coming in".  I had a great relation with most doctors of which many young nurses were half way afraid of. There needs to be a more even balance between men and women in my opinion.  My wife works a Surg/Trauma ICU, and she said working with all the other nurses being male is when the shift goes smoothest.  Her unit has about 30 men now.

Thanks for bringing up the existence of transgendered nurses. Several readers have commented about my use of the term "identify as male" - I use that terminology out of respect for those who were born with a gender that is different than how they present to the world. When writing this article, I found a lot of information about transgendered nurses, but that's something I wanted to approach in a separate article.

I love having male energy at work - I agree it provides more balance and a smoother working day.

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SafetyNurse1968 has 20 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, PhD and specializes in Oncology, Home Health, Patient Safety.

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12 hours ago, midnighter94 said:

I've worked in OB for 24 years and we've recently hired our first male nurse.  When we interviewed him, we raised the question of 'will there be more work for co-workers/charge nurse?' as in will we need to chaperone him during foleys/pushing/breast feeding etc. ?  Orientation is over, things have gone well, patients love him and no patients have complained about having a male nurse.  Suddenly we've gotten notice from HR that he is to be chaperoned during foleys, exams, breast feeding - that when the baby is placed skin-to-skin with the mom, he shouldn't lurk, he should be given only bottle-feeding mothers; that all staff need to ask patients if they want a chaperone prior to any exams - even if it's female staff performing the exam.  Yes, we normally accompany the physicians when they do the exams, but most of the time it's more so that we can document - there has never been a policy that said they had to be accompanied.  It's like HR has turned what we do into a sexual thing!  One of the questions I asked was, do male nurses on the medical floors need a chaperone to place a foley? - no, they don't, not officially - if the patient is a 'young female and the nurse feels that the patient would be uncomfortable, then he may request a chaperone.'

So yes, I am for the first time in my career, seeing gender bias.  

Such a strange dichotomy - that you can put in a foley on a med surg floor without a chaperone, but can't on an OB/GYN floor. That'd definitely a conundrum...

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SafetyNurse1968 has 20 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, PhD and specializes in Oncology, Home Health, Patient Safety.

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6 hours ago, jinct said:

How many of your students are actually male and don't just identify as men? Serious question. 

Since it would be illegal for me to verify the existence of male genitalia or to confirm a Y chromosome with my students, I cannot answer your question. The term "identify as male" is used out of respect for transgendered folks who have a different identity than the gender they were born with. I'm curious as to why you want to know?

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OUxPhys has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Cardiology.

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13 hours ago, midnighter94 said:

I've worked in OB for 24 years and we've recently hired our first male nurse.  When we interviewed him, we raised the question of 'will there be more work for co-workers/charge nurse?' as in will we need to chaperone him during foleys/pushing/breast feeding etc. ?  Orientation is over, things have gone well, patients love him and no patients have complained about having a male nurse.  Suddenly we've gotten notice from HR that he is to be chaperoned during foleys, exams, breast feeding - that when the baby is placed skin-to-skin with the mom, he shouldn't lurk, he should be given only bottle-feeding mothers; that all staff need to ask patients if they want a chaperone prior to any exams - even if it's female staff performing the exam.  Yes, we normally accompany the physicians when they do the exams, but most of the time it's more so that we can document - there has never been a policy that said they had to be accompanied.  It's like HR has turned what we do into a sexual thing!  One of the questions I asked was, do male nurses on the medical floors need a chaperone to place a foley? - no, they don't, not officially - if the patient is a 'young female and the nurse feels that the patient would be uncomfortable, then he may request a chaperone.'

So yes, I am for the first time in my career, seeing gender bias.  

This is the hospital covering their behind in case something were to happen. It is discrimination and I can only imagine the backlash had the same policy been implemented to women. 

You do bring up an excellent point: if they can do it on other floors and if no female patients have complained why is it an issue?

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FullGlass has 1 years experience as a BSN, MSN, NP and specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care.

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15 hours ago, midnighter94 said:

I've worked in OB for 24 years and we've recently hired our first male nurse.  When we interviewed him, we raised the question of 'will there be more work for co-workers/charge nurse?' as in will we need to chaperone him during foleys/pushing/breast feeding etc. ?  Orientation is over, things have gone well, patients love him and no patients have complained about having a male nurse.  Suddenly we've gotten notice from HR that he is to be chaperoned during foleys, exams, breast feeding - that when the baby is placed skin-to-skin with the mom, he shouldn't lurk, he should be given only bottle-feeding mothers; that all staff need to ask patients if they want a chaperone prior to any exams - even if it's female staff performing the exam.  Yes, we normally accompany the physicians when they do the exams, but most of the time it's more so that we can document - there has never been a policy that said they had to be accompanied.  It's like HR has turned what we do into a sexual thing!  One of the questions I asked was, do male nurses on the medical floors need a chaperone to place a foley? - no, they don't, not officially - if the patient is a 'young female and the nurse feels that the patient would be uncomfortable, then he may request a chaperone.'

So yes, I am for the first time in my career, seeing gender bias.  

This isn't gender bias.  It's just the times we live in.  I'm a primary care NP, and I ALWAYS have a chaperone for a female patient for breast and pelvic exams, and for a male for urogenital exams.  This is to protect both the provider and the patient.  Male nurses and providers are more likely to be the recipients of complaints of sexual harassment, unjustified and justified.  Over on KevinMD, a male orthopedic MD was accused of sexual harassment by a female patient for conducting a shoulder exam!  He now always has a chaperone when examining a female patient for anything.

 

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OUxPhys has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Cardiology.

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25 minutes ago, FullGlass said:

This isn't gender bias.  It's just the times we live in.  I'm a primary care NP, and I ALWAYS have a chaperone for a female patient for breast and pelvic exams, and for a male for urogenital exams.  This is to protect both the provider and the patient.  Male nurses and providers are more likely to be the recipients of complaints of sexual harassment, unjustified and justified.  Over on KevinMD, a male orthopedic MD was accused of sexual harassment by a female patient for conducting a shoulder exam!  He now always has a chaperone when examining a female patient for anything.

 

No, it is bias because it only applies to the male nurse. When it’s applied for one gender but not the other it is bias/discrimination. 
 

Im glad you do it with both genders and I agree 100% with the rest of your post!

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