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Posted 10 months ago
Life as a Nurse – the Male Perspective
I had never considered dying until I became a nurse. I had no idea what to expect when I signed up to start my nurse training. However, talking to people who were about to die taught me a huge amount, as did some of the stereotypes that went with being a man working as a nurse.
Being a “Male Nurse”
It has never ceased to fascinate me that of all people from all professions, nursing appears to be the only one where people feel the need to point out what sex you are if you’re a man. When I told people I was a nurse many people used to say to me, “Oh, you’re a male nurse!”
If you were addressing a teacher, solicitor, mechanic or secretary, for example, would you say, “Oh, you’re a male or female solicitor?” Most people would not. Yet, for some reason, being a male within the nursing profession often prompts people to clarify that you are, in fact, still a man!
From Hospital to Hollywood
I once ended up in the audience of “Family Feud,” which I happened to find myself at during a trip to LA several years ago. When I volunteered for the interval game where the audience got involved, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Our ever-smiling host lined up five of us and told us that we would be playing pass the pizza. If you happened to be holding the pizza base -- which was passed amongst us -- when the music stopped, you had a bucket of pizza toppings poured over your head.
“What do you do for a living?” I was asked. I told our smiling presenter that I was a nurse.
“Oh, you’re a male nurse!” was our host’s reply. At this point I put my hand down my trousers as if to check and answered, “Yes, I still am.”
It Can Sometimes End Up in a Mess
Although this gained me a few laughs from the crowd and fellow contestants, it also ensured that I was the first person holding the pizza base when the music stopped. I was subsequently covered with “the works.”
Throughout my nursing career, which spanned 13 years and 3 continents, I found being male was an advantage. Yes, it did mean I was generally the first to be called if lifting needed to be done or potential trouble was starting; but it taught me to be very good in explaining things simply and negotiating with people, who were sometimes psychotic.
Other Advantages to Being a Nurse and a Man
The most obvious thing became very apparent, very quickly, is the large ratio of women to men in the profession. When I trained there were 100 people in our set, 20 of which were men, eight of who were gay.
This meant, in practical terms, that I received a lot of female attention in the nurses’ home. For someone who was very shy and didn’t previously have much luck with ladies, this was a very liberating experience that did wonders for my self-confidence.
As a man and a nurse it is part of the package to have your sexuality questioned regularly. This will either make you or break you as a character and set you up well in life. It teaches core skills like empathy, diplomacy and discernment, whilst ensuring that you will gain a range of life experiences that will set you up well for the rest of your life.
It is only through nursing the dying that I really started living.