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Being a Male Nurse: Why Not?

By Nurse Eli

I have been a nurse for nearly 15 years. Ever since I was a kid, I was greatly influenced by my parents who both worked as nurses. I have felt the passion they had for their work and have recognised even at a young age, that this profession will not only positively impact my family's life but the lives of many. Nursing has always been my 1st choice.

But why Nursing?

I remember having a discussion with a young boy from the Philippines, a high school student, who was very interested in my profession and was asking me to convince him why I need to take up Nursing. I was ready to share with him my life story and 101 reasons why I pursue this profession but then I realised that it was not the profession he was really intrigued in. I, then, learned that he was curious as to why, a male, would pursue nursing?

So I told him.. "Why Not?"

This is a question I find I need to answer even whilst being a UK nurse. Many male nurses I believe also share my experience of some degree of discrimination or bias at some point during their studies or in their careers.

I remember even receiving remarks like "Bakit hindi ka na lang nag-doctor?" (Why didn't you pursue being a doctor?) and "Hindi bagay maging nurse ang mga lalaking tulad mo." (A nurse's profession does not suit males like you.) Such comments come from a judgmental and primitive way of thinking about perceived sexuality of nurses. There are male nurses and we are here to stay.

Nursing, safe to say is dominated by women. According to the NMC there are *745,000 people on their register, with *664, 400 women and only 80,500 men. That is roughly 12 men to 100 women. And in the UK, most male nurses I have met or worked with are from the Black and Minority Ethnic Groups.

I agree that most of us would have had our own mothers as our very first nurse, but who is to say that the care, empathy, and kindness from our mothers could not be passed on to us their sons? It is a woman’s world but men can be in this world too. I was raised by my mother and aunts and so for me I have always been around the opposite sex.

To be around colleagues with diverse genders is positive and enriching. I work well with them. I value the difference in perspective and approach that can be combined with my own methods for better results for our patients. Collaboration is key and we are almost always never alone.

But there are instances as a male nurse that I might not be able to relate well with a patient, such as women’s health and pregnancy. Inversely a female nurse may not relate well to a patient with a prostate and men’s health issues.

Being a nurse should not be defined by our gender. Regardless of one's gender or sexuality, one could also find the compassion to care for others and the passion to be of service to someone in need. There may be a difference in approach but the goal is always the same, its for the welfare of our patients.

One's gender should not also dictate one's chance for success. I have seen Filipino nurses in the UK who are excelling in this field and gender was not being questioned. What made them great are their skills, grit, resilience and passion for their work.

If you're thinking of pursuing nursing as a profession, don't ever let your gender, sexual preference, race or nationality hold you off from pursuing your dreams. Its just a matter of asking yourself, why not?

*includes nurses, midwives, nurse midwives and nurse associates


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