Becoming a student nurse and being a male is never something I have ever thought about. I am the only male in our small cohort of fourteen student nurses specialising in learning disabilities. However, I have heard that for some males, it is something they have thought about and at times worried about.
The main reason for worrying appears to centre around acceptance. That’s acceptance from within their cohort and future nursing colleagues. However, there are also worries about their family and friends questioning their decision to become a nurse.
Personally, I have never come across any of those situations. My family and friends have all been incredibly supportive of my decision. My cohort, too, has also been supportive, and they feel that more male nurses are needed to best support patients and represent the communities we serve. When out on practice placement, these views have been echoed by my colleagues.
When it comes to patients, I have never come across an issue where they have not wanted to be treated by a male nurse. However, I am a firm believer in choice anyway. For example, when I worked in care, I always provided the female residents with the choice. I ensured that they knew they absolutely could exercise their right to choose. Nine out of ten times, they were fine with me providing care. If they were not, it absolutely wasn’t and never should be an issue to find a female to assist. This all comes down to person-centred care and is not a barrier for males to become nurses. For me, the key is to ensure that the patient is made to feel that they do have a genuine choice, and whatever their choice is, it is not a problem. I would hate to think that I am supporting a patient who doesn’t want to be supported by me because they would prefer a female.
You may notice that I have not referred to females specifically not wanting a male nurse because it is not always about wanting a nurse of the same gender. There are other issues to consider. For example, a female patient may have been abused by females in the past. Therefore they may feel more comfortable with a male or vice-versa. This subject is a whole another blog entry! I hope, however, that you can see that becoming a male nurse is part of the solution to the many and complex issues for our patients. Another example I can think of again from my time working in residential care, some patients will respond ‘better’ to males. They may look up to them as a male role model.
For me, being a male has never stood as a barrier. I am also involved in additional aspects of University-related activities, such as the Hull Nursing Society Committee Member & Social Media Officer and a Team Member of the well respected #WeStNs peer support Twitter page.
To finish, if you were to come across any issues because of your gender, you need to raise those issues. An example would be with your University Personal Supervisor if it is an issue within your cohort.