Quote from USCSomeday
I had an exam today and there was a question on it that I found a little funny. Tell me what you think:
Q) Men should be encouraged to enter nursing primarily because:
a. They work with physicians better
b. They have physical strength
c. They can't get pregnant
d. They will change the perception of nursing
That is, word for word, the exact prompt and selection of answers.
Obviously, the answer they're pointing to is "d." but this doesn't sit right with me. I don't think men should be encouraged to enter nursing to change the perception of nursing, I think they should be encouraged to do so for whatever reason they choose... in other words, there shouldn't be implications of a pre-existing bias or stereotype in nursing, and men shouldn't be viewed as only solutions to this problem. There are current recruitment efforts directed towards males, of course, and there are professional men's nursing associations; while their goals might overlap with this question, I seriously doubt that they would agree with the answer choices given. There are many reasons that men should enter nursing, but the primary reason is not to change its image. In my opinion, the primary reason men should enter nursing is to develop their interests and professional status, contribute positively to society, and create positive change in health care and deliver quality care to all people.
Your focus is different from the focus of the question. You focus on the goals of the men entering the profession, which you rightly assert should be as individual as those seeking to enter.
The question focuses on why men should be encouraged to enter. The question is NOT about the goals of the men seeking to enter, but about the goals of the profession for seeking them out.
As a women dominated field, nursing seems to evolve to one equation or image: caring. The implication is that the sum of nursing comes down to an innate quality that women, by nature or nurture, excel in over men. Lost in that context is the concept of nursing as a high tech, high skilled professional practice.
If nursing is a profession that cannot draw men, then the image persists that it is a vocation of caring that only appeals to women.
If more men enter nursing, it validates nursing as a professional practice. It's not that the men themselves bring that professionalism to nursing where women don't. No. It's that the inability to attract men itself undermines a professional image. A true professional practice would bring all that seek such professionalism to the table. More men simply validate professionalism by demonstrating nursing's universality as a profession as opposed to an engendered image.
It's not that men are more professional. The issue is that, without men, the focus on the perception of nursing is tied to the qualities that attract only women. If more men buy into and adopt the professional qualities of being a nurse, the result is that the perception of that professionalism is elevated for all.
Whether you choose to accept it or not, there are pre-existing biases and stereotypes in nursing. In very real ways, they rob nurses of respect and power. Lack of respect and power is a very real and persistent concern of nurses. More men in nursing serves to challenge those stereotypes. This issue is rightly presented as one of perception, and not reality. All too often however, perception becomes practical reality. More men in nursing is not the ONLY solution by which to challenge those stereotypes. But, it is one of many solutions, and a potent one at that.
You rebel at this concept because the notion of equality of women demands that women don't need men to validate their economic or professional position. I completely agree, however, that is not at the root of this issue. It's not that more men validate the women of the profession. It's that more men validate the univeral qualities of the profession. More men in nursing increases the concept of equality of women by changing the perception to INCLUDE the concept that it is a field that deserves the rightful aspirations of all comers. If more men seek out nursing, then nursing must be equally compelling to men AND women. And that changes the focus of the perception of nurses to the qualities that equally attract all as opposed to the qualities that attract only women.