Eddie Hebert, on men
Eddie Hebert, RN
, graduated from Nicholls State University School of Nursing in 1971 with an associate degree in nursing and in 1992 received a BSN from the same university. He is the director of nurses at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center/Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center. He is an active member of the American Nurses Association, having served as a delegate from Louisiana at the ANA Convention. He serves on the board of the Louisiana State Nurses Association and the American Assembly for Men in Nursing. He is also a member of Sigma Theta Tau and serves his local chapter as president.
By Bree LeMaire, MS, RN
December 17, 2003
How did you get into nursing?
Strictly by accident. I certainly did not grow up with the idea of becoming a nurse.
I started working in the diet kitchen at a small hospital. That's where I met my wife, who was also a nurse. It was the exposure to nurses and their encouragement in those early years that led me to nursing school.
Do you have a favorite nursing memory?
I am not sure if it was a favorite nursing memory or a nightmare. My first reaction was "Oh, God. Please don't let this happen to me!" I remember my instructor telling me that the birth of a baby was a natural process. That experience delivering twins was really as good as it gets in my obstetric nursing career.
I delivered the twins in a car while on duty in the emergency room. I was the only nurse on duty in the ER at the time with only limited experience as an OB student. Men were not allowed in the delivery room where I trained. I did, however, have the knowledge base (read the book) and knew what was happening when the delivery took place.
I really learned a lesson in life seeing infants born before my eyes, and twice. That day I felt proud to be a nurse. I had done something to help bring life into this world.
It is too bad more men are not allowed to work in labor and delivery. This arena is one of the most protected and prejudicial areas in nursing. We certainly long to be a part of this discipline, but barriers continue to exist. I feel sure that if doors were opened and men were given the opportunity, they would quickly embrace the beauty of labor and delivery as a profession. Those prejudicial walls would disappear.
Any challenging incidents you recall?
I remember how disappointed I was to discover toward the beginning of my nursing career that prejudice toward men and minorities existed. There were even whispered comments about my sexual orientation. That was one of the most difficult periods of adjustment for me.
Often, it is difficult for men to fit into the mold of being a nurse simply because we are fighting an image. Pictures often depict the white, female nurse caring for male patients. Men have to work twice as hard to prove themselves capable in nursing.
Because of our minority status, we are sometimes discriminated against, which leads to fewer promotional opportunities.
What do you see as the greatest draw to bring men into nursing?
The greatest draw is the men who are nurses themselves. Who can better tell the story than the ones who have experienced it? They will share a positive work experience and feel the satisfaction of seeing patients get well. They also will develop excellent working relationships and share a common bond with their co-workers, female colleagues and physicians. Most importantly, they will have a feeling of "belonging" and know that prejudice and harassment against men does not exist.
Men in nursing will be appreciated for what they do rather than who they are.
What is the future for men in nursing?
Men are viewed as an "untapped resource" (like we haven't been around for a hundred years) in solving what has been created over years of poor planning. In spite of this, some nursing schools still continue to retain gender-biased admission policies. Too many women are admitted and not enough minorities and men.
Male nurses did not really come about in Louisiana until the famous "Position Paper for Nursing Education in 1965." That was a landmark document. There was a tremendous lack of opportunity for men to enter the nursing profession. Consequently, Louisiana has not produced its fair share of male nurses.
Luckily, men now are beginning to enter nursing in larger numbers and, because of the nursing shortage, receive more publicity.
Do you see an easy or difficult road ahead?
I think the question should be "How are we as nurses going to survive in this profession?"
Nursing boards, as I view them, remain dominated by women ... for women! How can men begin to make an impact if they are vastly outnumbered? Our views and opinions are seldom heard or recognized. Men in the profession certainly are not the answer, but can be a part of the solution if allowed to share in this responsibility.