If you want to know the answer the to the title, scroll down to the bottom of this post.
Below is an analysis of the pros and cons of being a male in the nursing field.
1. A male in hospital attire is seen as an authority figure, whereas a female in hospital attire is often seen as a sexual figure.
“How old is she?” asked Gerard, a patient in his 70s. He was curious about the age of his nurse.
“She’s 23 years old,” I said, referring to Cathy. “She resembles a 16 year old teen, huh?”
“My god, you are a lucky man for working with these fine ass bitches. Must take a lot of discipline to focus on the job.”
“Especially cause they keep getting younger and younger when they first join the profession.”
“Just don’t get fired if you try to mess around!”
I left the room with a smile. At this point in my career, I had had several similar conversations with elderly, male patients who viewed female nurses as sexual objects. Therein lies the first advantage of being a male nurse: you are perceived as being an authority figure. Female nurses, on the other hand, are readily seen as sexual objects. The difference in perception leads to patients lending more credibility to male nurses. More respect, in turn, leads to a better day with fewer communication mishaps.
Why are young female nurses viewed in a sexual light? It doesn’t help that their scrubs show off their curves. It also doesn’t help that the porn industry has promoted the idea that female nurses like giving sponge baths.
2. The dating scene comes to you (in nursing school).
One day I was chatting with Don, a guy from Berkeley studying computer science. He kept complaining that it was too hard to meet women.
“Where can I meet women, Walt? All the women in CS have small titties and crooked teeth. It’s fucking disgusting. And it seems that all the good looking ones on campus are already taken,” ejaculated Don.
“Just go to where the women go,” I said.
“I’ve tried everything. I’ve been to dance clubs, I’ve searched the frat houses, and I’ve joined random clubs like the snowboarding club. The ratio is skewed and there’s too much competition for the women everywhere I go.”
“Try the nursing club. For every 11 girls, there’s one guy.”
Two weeks later, Don tried my strategy. Six months after that, he had a girlfriend.
Let’s be real: half the battle in college is trying to get with women. Most guys at 17-18 have 0 experience with pussy, and they want to break their own “cherries.” This eagerness is intensified by the common illusion that college is full of partying and drunken adventures. But when many guys reach campus, they become disheartened. They wonder where all the girls are? They wonder why they keep eating lunch with the same old dudes.
Guys in nursing will be one step ahead. The route of becoming a nurse will cause the dating scene to come to you. That is, you won’t have to take extreme measures (like joining the pussycat club) to meet women.
Ever heard that 10% of nurses are guys? Not quite. Actually, only 5.8% of all nurses are guys (https://carrington.edu/blog/medical/male-vs-female-nurse/). The proportion of guys in nursing school probably comes close to that figure. Therefore, the main hurdle to you getting with women won’t be access; it will be FEAR.
When you find yourself surrounded by young, pretty girls in nursing school, your heart will be pounding. Driven by the desire to look good, you’ll start conversations with other dudes. You’ll go to the restroom a lot more often to break the monotonous silence among you and the girls around you. Worst of all, you’ll tell yourself the story that “there’s nothing to talk about with these girls.” But the real reason you won’t start conversation will be that you’re scared to death. You’re worried that you’re not good enough. You’re worried that the pretty girl sitting next to you will reject you because you suck.
My best advice to handle this gut wrenching fear is to just get started. Meeting women in school can be as simple as starting conversations without caring about the outcome. When you talk to girls without caring about what they think, it takes a tremendous burden off your shoulders.
3. People will call you doctor (you will secretly enjoy this).
You’ll be mistaken for a doctor many, many times. It will feel nice to get the ego stroked. And when the time comes to correct the patient’s mistake and to reveal your identity as the nurse, many of you won’t say a damn thing. You won’t want to interrupt the good feelings of being called a doctor.
Understand that your lack of action is normal. Feel free to continue your charade! It’s actually much better to be a nurse pretending to be a doctor than it is to be an actual doctor. When you’re a nurse pretending to be a doctor, you have the perceived authority of a physician without the patient liability. Actual doctors have huge job (and financial) liabilities. Continue to be inauthentic! As long as your patients aren’t harmed…
4) You will be perceived as the leader in situations where multiple healthcare personnel gather.
Here’s a common situation: you’re with your patient in a room. In comes three different healthcare workers who will help you transfer a patient from a bed to gurney. As the workers come into your room and take position around the patient, your confidence drops. All of a sudden, patient care has been transformed into a public speaking practice! As your confidence continues to plummet, the screaming silence pervades the room. You realize that the workers are waiting on your cue/directions for the patient transfer. When you finally speak up, your voice is shaky and people start doubting your ability to lead.
In the example above, you were perceived as the leader, but you waited too long to say something. The way to avoid such scenarios is to speak up when people start entering your room. What I like to do is introduce myself to each person. By speaking first, I set the tone for a participatory mood. And when I create conversation, I generate momentum and spontaneously lay out my plans for the patient transfer. In turn, I am perceived as a leader.
Therein lies the trick to being perceived as a leader (even though you feel like a pussy): be the first one to talk. You don’t necessarily have to give instructions. All you have to do is say something with confidence.
In order to be perceived as a leader, I use three different templates:
“This is patient X in the room. Our goal is to do X, Y, and Z…”
“Hi guys, my name is Walt. Does anyone have any questions about what we’re doing?”
“I’m Walt. What’s your name?”
It doesn’t matter what you say. You just have to be the first one to speak!
Remember that extraverts are more often viewed as leaders than are introverts. If you speak up first, everyone in the room will recognize you’re setting the tone. You will then be the implicit leader.
5) When you stroke your boss, you will be preferentially treated, since she will be most likely female.
6) You will get to piss in the toilets with the seat up and urinate without aiming. You won’t necessarily get into trouble, since patients’ family members use toilets too.
I used to make a mess in the bathroom all the time. I wanted to send a message to females nurses who were pissing me off/frustrating me. In a sense, it was a childish way to get revenge if I felt offended.
Sometimes I left shit in the bathroom if I knew I was going to leave the job soon. Feel free to copy me if you want to frustrate some coworkers!
1. Female nurses will ask you to help in patient transfers, assuming you’’ll do most of the work.
One day I encountered a twinkie junkie (a 350 lb man). Laquicia was the primary nurse and requested that I help with transferring him to a gurney. I grabbed a male nurse coworker and three of us got the job done. I noticed three things:
- Laquicia was the primary nurse, but she didn’t do any of the heavy lifting. Instead of pulling or pushing the fat patient, she simply fled to the head of the bed where she only had to hold the patient’s head.
- She was completely useless during the transfer, yet she pretended to go through the motions in order to save face.
- Her hourly rate was higher than mine, yet she was literally doing less work. She asked for help and made two male nurses do all the work for her!
So how do you handle these situations? What do you do when female nurses request your help and implicitly expect you to handle most of the load?
The way you handle this is by telling your female colleagues what to do. Call them out on their bullshit behavior. When you see a female nurse positioning herself at the head of a bed, tell her to go to the side and push/pull in unison with you. Don’t tolerate it when women try to escape physical labor! I can’t emphasize this enough.
Nice guys finish last. In nursing, this is especially true.
2. Your hiring manager may assume that you’ll leave the job within a year.
Imagine you’re a unit manager for a busy ICU. You have two young applicants vying for the same spot. They have similar GPAs and achievements. For all you know, they could be twins! Both of them ace the interview with huge smiles. So who will get the spot? Let’s take a look at the self-talk of a typical manager:
“I like both these people. However, if I pick the dude, then he’ll probably leave in 6-12 months, just like all the other young bucks I’ve hired. But if I hire the girl, she’ll just get pregnant after 9 months and go on leave. I’ll just go with the girl, since she’s more likely to stay for at least a year.”
Believe it or not, this kind of reasoning is rampant in the nursing industry. Men of the millennial generation (like myself) have perpetuated the stereotype of the unfaithful, impatient young man who just wants acute care experience on his resume so he can apply to graduate school. People like me have left hospitals after only five months, thinking that one year is way too long to dedicate to a single hospital. With more millennials entering nursing, can you blame managers for preferring young women over young men?
You need to hedge against the stereotype against male nurses. I think the solution is to address the elephant in the room immediately during the interview, even if you manager doesn’t broach the topic of how long’ you’ll stay. I recommend that you look the manager in the eye and say “My plan is to stay for at least 5 years. I’m looking to develop with this company for the long term.” Say this with a nice, gay smile. You may be lying, but I think it’s justified. If you tell the truth and say that you’ll probably leave within 1-2 years, the manager will give the job to the woman (who’s smiling just as much as you are).
The interview is an inherently inauthentic game. The hiring manager has all the leverage in the world, while you have absolutely no clout. You’re desperate for a job, but both of you pretend it’s a low-stakes conversation to minimize the jitters! In this extreme imbalance of power, you have to smile and pretend to be an agreeable person. The reality is that both of you are just acting! To make matters worse, you have to battle against stereotypes that say you’ll leave the hospital after a short period of time. I say just join the inauthenticity and say you’ll stay with the hospital. Once you get your experience that looks good enough on the resume, you can leave.
3. You’ll be surrounded by women. You will need to go out of your way to avoid workplace gossip/drama.
“Walt, how old are you?” asked Mercy, a coworker.
Mercy was chatting with a couple of female nurses, both of whom were young and single. It hit me like a ton of bricks: Mercy was scouting for her younger colleagues, checking the scene to see if I was a qualified bachelor.
“I’m 17 years old. My balls dropped yesterday,” I said with a grin.
The women erupted in laughter. I walked away before they could probe even more.
It’s a common thing in nursing for a nurse to look out for the romantic interests of her younger female colleagues. That being said, below are a list of questions female nurses ask to probe a man’s eligibility.
“How many kids do you have?”
“Are you married?”
“How old are you?”
“How long have you been a nurse?”
All these variants are proxies for the question they really want to ask: are you a worthy guy to be dating?
This is funny for two reasons. First, if a guy were to probe around and ask the same exact questions, it could be interpreted as sexual harassment, and the guy might get counseled/fired. Second, if a guy were to use an older coworker to probe a young female nurse, this would be viewed as a cowardly move. Yet females use this roundabout strategy all the time.
The lesson here is that women will gather and spread gossip, especially when it comes to relationships. It’s best to avoid such gossip.
I believe I handled the above situation appropriately. Not only did I diffuse the situation with humor, but I also left the conversation without giving them what they wanted. They’d be forced to gossip about someone other than me.
4) You will be competing against older women. Your standards may drop as a result.
When it comes to floor nursing, older obese women are everywhere. These old hags can get paid anywhere from 60-70 dollars an hour (which is a lot higher than the hourly rate new nurses get). Even more amazing than their hourly rate is the efficiency with which old hags do their jobs. That is to say, old hags sit on their asses for most of the shift, yet they still get paid more than you.
These old hags taught me an important lesson: it’s important to work smart in nursing. As I progressed in the ICU, my goal became to do less work than my female compatriots. Every shift, I wanted to set a personal record for how long I could sit on my ass. After all, the older hags still got paid more than me, even if I invested all the energy in the world in patient care.
Eventually, your standard may drop so low that you may view floor nursing with contempt, as I did. I realized that I should use my mental acuity on other things (like blogging and authoring) rather than trying to be “more efficient” than 60 year old fat Phillipino nurses who could barely say “nurse.”
Be careful when working with older nurses! Don’t let your ambition or standards dwindle.
Final point: it’s better to be a male nurse than a female nurse. At the end of the day, male nurses get paid more than female ones: