Team concepts: The nurse in the man: Lifting up nursing or lifting himself?
Fidelindo A. Lim MA, RN
Luis Sanchez-Vera

Nursing Management
June 2013 
Volume 44  Number 6
Pages 12 - 14
  PDF Version Available!

An often-heard response from direct care nurses when a male nurse joins the nursing workforce is "great, now there will be someone to help me lift the heavy patients." This physical recognition and typecasting of male nurses somehow dampens the spirit of young, highly educated, and ambitious male nursing students who, as of late, have been entering the female-dominated nursing profession in small but increasing numbers, with an almost altruistic desire to nurse. One male student lamented, "I didn't like being stereotyped in that way. As if my brute strength is the only thing that I could offer to saving lives. Inwardly, I know I can give more than muscular power to the bedside-my intuition, sincerity, and empathy came to mind." Perhaps, these are virtues men don't wear on their sleeves.Do male nurses really mind being viewed merely as an able lifter? After all, there's some truth to it. Perhaps, we should be glad that we're being recognized for our physical strength. Out of convenience and the need for structure, society creates social and gender normative roles to make some sense and stability in the world we live in.A 2012 front-page article in the New York Times explored the growing number of men choosing nursing as a second or late career choice primarily for its job security and above-average salary.1 The article mentioned dollar figures eight times and not a word on the value of progressive integration of male and female nursing roles. In 2011, men constituted 15% of students enrolled in basic RN programs, an unprecedented high number compared with 13.8% in 2009.2,3 A 2013 U.S. Census Bureau study reported that the "proportion of male registered nurses has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7% to 9.6%, and the proportion of male licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses has more than doubled from 3.9% to 8.1%."4 As of 2011, there are 330,000 male nurses in America.4So, what accounts for the increase in men entering nursing? Economic recessions tend to

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