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"What's with all the men in the NICU lately?"

NICU   (12,154 Views 22 Comments)
by Bortaz Bortaz, BSN, RN (Member) Member Nurse

Bortaz has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in CDI Supervisor; Formerly NICU.

1 Article; 35,462 Profile Views; 2,627 Posts

I'm a 41 year old male RN. I started my career in the NICU a few weeks ago. On my unit, there's another male RN who is a few weeks ahead of me in his orientation. This week, a senior male student started his practicum/preceptorship on the unit (I know him from school, and he applied here because of learning of the opportunity from a conversation with me). Both of the RTs on my schedule are male.

As I was feeding my baby a day or 2 ago, I overheard a couple of the nurses saying "What's with all the men in the NICU lately?", and going on to question why we'd want to work there. I mentioned to one of them later that I'd overheard their conversation, and asked why they were discussing it...was there something improper about a male working in the NICU? Of course, she was all flowers and butterflies when talking to me, telling me I was welcome on the unit, but...it made me curious.

So, my question to you all: IS there something improper about a male RN working in the NICU? I mean, is that the common consensus, that it's weird or something? Are male nurses some threat to the well-being of the babies or the staff?

It kinda irritated me, to be honest.

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Coffee Nurse has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in NICU.

937 Posts; 16,652 Profile Views

I don't think anyone would consider it improper. Your coworkers were more likely going off the stereotype that women are more likely to enjoy cuddling and cooing over babies (as if that's all we do in NICU...) than men. I can tell you that there are 100 nurses or more on staff on my unit, and we have a grand total of two men, but they're great and really know their stuff. That there is your best offense against the aforementioned stereotype.

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iHeartNICU specializes in NICU.

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I don't think it's weird at all. We have around 100 nurses on staff and have

5-10 men. They all do a great job and the parents seems to love them. We have one man in particular who is FANTASTIC with breast feeding and the moms are so thankful when he's around to help them out. I think it shouldn't matter one way or another....as long as you enjoy it and take care of the patients. I wouldn't let their comments effect you too much. People are people and they will always talk...apparently that's how it works :) Good luck!

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Are you a credible source? Add your Credentials, Experience, etc.

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I mght explain to her what it is you love about NICU. Guys are often drawn towards trauma and the ED and stuff and you ARE out of convention here. I think she's more curious than anything.

:)

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snowboardergirl123 has 2 years experience.

7 Posts; 1,024 Profile Views

My daughter born at 25 weeks was in the NICU for 3 months. I really liked the male nurses there, and didn't think it was weird at all. I think mens' different perspective is an asset to any specialty in nursing.

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EricJRN has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in NICU.

6,663 Posts; 27,810 Profile Views

Ideally, men could come into the unit, do the job, and go home without anyone blinking an eye. However, like Sue says, we are out of convention. It's not improper, but it's not the norm either. It gets noticed. Some think it's weird, but many think it's really neat. You'll overhear some of these remarks, but most you won't.

For me, it would become exhausting to use direct confrontation to justify my place in the NICU to everyone who might express surprise, but then I dislike confrontation in general. My suggestion is to smile and just work hard. Let your work speak for itself. They'll figure out that you're an intelligent nurse who certainly does belong in the NICU.

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fiveofpeep has 2 years experience and specializes in critical care, PACU.

1,237 Posts; 17,790 Profile Views

they're just playing into gender role stereotypes.

my bf is in nursing school and so far he has really disliked most specialties. turns out, of all the specialties, NICU is the one he is most enthusiastic about.

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WindwardOahuRN is a RN and specializes in Critical Care.

286 Posts; 6,747 Profile Views

As a dinosaur I'm venturing to give an opinion based on utterings I have heard over the years.

Many MANY nurses who have been around for a while have expressed the opinion that the only reason men have seen nursing as a viable option in recent years is because it FINALLY is paying nurses what they are worth.

Nursing was viewed as a profession fit only for women until at least thirty years ago. Little girls could grow up and become nurses or teachers. That was about it. The pay was pretty good for "woman's work." Truth be told, the pay was lousy, working conditions sucked, but the perks were flexibility (so great for Moms!!) and the fact that you could always find some kind of nursing job, be it the relatively high-paying hospital job or the crap-paying doc's office job.

Enter multiple nursing shortages, union representation, strikes, and salary increases.

Many a fellow dinosaur has expressed the opinion that, if salaries had not increased to today's levels, men would never have been attracted to nursing. There have always been those men who have tossed tradition to the wayside and become nurses, of course. Unfairly categorized and sometimes sneered at, these guys toughed it out through years of lousy pay, crappy hours, and remarks that, these days, would have them capable of filing lawsuits based on discrimination. They love what they do. True nurses, they persevered and they are treasures.

I now see many male nurses (and, to be honest, female nurses) who are in it simply for the paycheck. All ICU's are perceived as prestigious..."special." NICU is especially high tech. And, not incidentally, easier on the back.

Perhaps this is where the comments are coming from. Somewhat unfair, as a blanket indictment but, as one who has seen an evolution over many decades, also somewhat understandable.

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nurserynurse55 specializes in NICU.

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We do not have any male nurses in our NICU or SCN. I wish that we did though. About half of our docs are men though. I think that male nurses in the NICU would be great role models for our parents (especially the youthful dads). Come work in my NICU.

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Bortaz has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in CDI Supervisor; Formerly NICU.

1 Article; 2,627 Posts; 35,462 Profile Views

Where is it? :)

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NICU_babyRN is a BSN, RN and specializes in NICU.

306 Posts; 5,146 Profile Views

We have several RTs a few RNs and we LOVE having them on our unit!!

I wish MORE men were in a NICU setting so that MAYBE the environment would be a bit less bit chy

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