If you are currently in the nursing profession, and you happen to be male, you’ve more than likely encountered some form of ridicule, whether it is the more innocuous, “Why would you decide to be a nurse?” to more troubling suggestions about your sexuality. In the movie, “Meet the Parents,” one of the main characters is a male nurse, and he is made of fun of throughout the film on account of his chosen career. While of course, nursing is a predominantly female-saturated profession—in fact, a national registry claims that women nurses outnumber their male counterparts 16 to 1—there are a growing number of males in an occupation that is rewarding on a personal as well as financial and professional level.
A nursing blog, AllNurses.com, recently talked about the history of nursing and included a list of famous male nurses. The first nursing school was founded in India around 250 B.C. The blog post quotes a primary source from the first nursing school, which was all-male, that reports men aspiring to be nurses should be “of good behavior, distinguished for purity, possessed of cleverness and skill, imbued with kindness, skilled in every service a patient may require, competent to cook food, skilled in bathing and washing the patient, rubbing and massaging the limbs, lifting and assisting him to walk about, well skilled in making and cleansing of beds, readying the patient and skillful in waiting upon one that is ailing and never unwilling to do anything that may be ordered."
The list of famous male nurses includes Walt Whitman, the eminent 19th century American poet, Friar Juan de Mena, the first nurse to ever administer service in the present-day United States, and James Derham, a slave who worked as a nurse in New Orleans in the 1700s. Derhem eventually earned enough money to buy his freedom, and he later became the first African-American physician in history.
For males choosing to pursue a career in nursing today, there are many resources that will enhance your growth in a female-dominated field. The American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) is one such organization which seeks to “provide a framework for nurses, as a group, to meet, to discuss and influence factors, which affect men as nurses.” The organization works toward promoting increased male representation in nursing as well.
For more personal insight into the trials and tribulations of male nurses, read the article, “Male Nurses Need Respect, Too” featured recently on Travel Nursing Blogs .