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Thom Schwarz's Viewpoint ("I Am Not a Male Nurse," February) reminded me of the many names I've been called and questions I've been asked in more than 30 years as a nurse. My mother would introduce my wife by saying, "This is my daughter-in-law and she is a nurse." She would introduce me with, "This is my son and he is a male nurse." I also remember my son coming home from a day in second grade. His teacher had asked students about their fathers' occupations. My son responded that his dad was a nurse, but all his classmates replied, "No, he is not a nurse. He is a doctor." By the end of the day, my son believed that I was a doctor. I am proud of my profession as an RN.


Ronald E. Rebuck, MSN, RN


Harrisburg, PA


Thank you for "Men in Nursing: Still Too Few" (AJN Reports, February). The men I've worked with have been treated equally by the staff, whether they were homosexual, heterosexual, or transgender. The patients have not complained about their care.


The perception that all male nurses are homosexual needs to be changed, especially among men. As the article points out, the predominance of women in nursing is a relatively recent phenomenon. With more emphasis on recruiting men, the workforce will become more diverse. I find the profession to be very rewarding; there is great satisfaction in caring for those who need it.


Hardai Rampersaud, RN


Richmond Hill, NY


I've been a nurse for 35 years. While at work the other day in the obstetrics department, I was told by a physician that I would need a chaperone when performing exams. I asked her whether the other nurses needed a chaperone and whether she herself had a chaperone during every exam. The answer was no. I told her that when all nurses need a chaperone, the rule would apply to me as well.


I also teach nursing, and every semester my male students ask me whether I wanted to be a physician. It's hard to hold back the anger as I get older.


Jack Rogers, MSN, RN


Alamogordo, NM


I am ashamed that female nurses perpetuate sexism and wonder if it's because they feel threatened by male nurses. Nursing has been considered a female profession because men are not seen as nurturers. One's sex does not dictate how caring one can be. Caring has to do with personality; it is based on compassion and not biology.


Norma Taylor, RN


Brooklyn, NY


As a nurse who happens to be a gay man, I've often felt devalued by the subtle homophobia and sexism of recruitment efforts targeted at men. Rather than trying to change men's perceptions of nursing, perhaps we should be encouraging men and boys to value traits traditionally associated with nursing-and therefore seen as "feminine." When men can acknowledge the caring, compassionate aspects of themselves, they will be more able to embrace nursing as a career.


Christopher Ham, RN


Sacramento, CA


I have been a nurse since 1964, and whenever I am asked if I am a "male nurse," I reply, "last time I checked I was." I am incensed that, in 2006, state nurses' associations and schools of nursing are so ignorant and insensitive as to use such phrases as "real men" in their recruitment advertising. Do you think anyone asked me whether I was a "real man" when I cared for patients on a prison ward, marines who were wounded in Vietnam, heroin-dependent homeless people, terminally ill patients at the first hospice in New York City, or thousands of people living with HIV or AIDS? All that mattered was that I was a nurse who cared enough to be there.


Peter J. Ungvarski, MS, RN, FAAN


New York, NY


I'm often called a "male nurse." I believe that men are justified in their effort to find equality in this field, but I have often felt that part of the stigma has to do with the feminine connotations of the word "nurse." I wonder if the public's perception of men in nursing might be altered by a change in the name of the profession.


Duane Jasperson, RN


Cardston, Alberta, Canada


Out here in Hollywood, "actors" can be either male or female. But female actors are often called "actresses," implying that actors are male. Imagine "doctors" and "doctresses."


Steve Montgomery


Los Angeles, CA


I get it probably once a month: "Oh, you're a male nurse?" To which I reply, in my most forlorn voice: "Yeah. I wanted to be a female nurse, but all the classes were full." Most people get my point.


Jim Kavanagh, MSN, RN, NP-C


Portland, ME


Columbia University got it right in 1970, the first year since its founding in 1892 that the school of nursing admitted men. I was one of those men and found the faculty, students, and clinical sites to be nearly universally welcoming. The obstetrics department chairwoman made a point of meeting me. "We're looking forward to having you in our course," she said, handing me her office address and phone number. "If you have concerns anywhere along the way, let's talk." The openness continued when I later worked as a student clinical assistant in labor and delivery. The head nurse went to bat for me when an attending physician complained to the chief of service because a man had been assigned as his patient's nurse. And the director of obstetrics nursing offered me three different clinical positions upon graduation. By their example, they showed others that discrimination is never acceptable.


Ramon Lavandero, MSN, RN, FAAN


Laguna Niguel, CA


All nurses should focus more on the care we provide and less on the sex of the provider. The organization I work for provides health information to pregnant women during home visits. We are hoping to hire a new nurse. When my supervisor, who is a social worker, referred to our potential new employee as "she," a nurse on our advisory board said that the new nurse could be a man. My supervisor seemed to believe that our patients would be more comfortable talking to a woman; I pointed out that most of the obstetricians and gynecologists in town are men and that our patients were willing to talk to them.


Louise Magoon, RN


Fort Wayne, IN


As a teacher of maternal-newborn nursing, I'm always amazed when educated people, particularly medical professionals, question whether a male student should be allowed in the birthing room. I remind whoever needs reminding that for the past 100 years physicians, most of whom were male, performed all obstetric and gynecologic functions and this male authority was rarely questioned.


My male students fear being made to feel like outsiders, but nurses in obstetrics settings are often delighted to have a male student. The nurses treat the male students in either a maternal or a mildly flirtatious way. And the nurses who would be the first to correct a female student if, for example, she wasn't feeding an infant properly will think that it is "simply the cutest thing" when a man is struggling with the same task.


Maxine Lesser, MSN, ARNP, SANE-A


Daytona Beach, FL


The notion of nurses on calendars and greeting cards frightens me.


William Corser, PhD, RN, CNAA


East Lansing, MI


During my 23 years as a nurse, I've noticed that some male nurses in the ED refuse to insert Foley catheters or assist in pelvic exams, Berkeley vacuum curettage, rape examinations, or even just helping a female patient on and off a bedpan. If male nurses want to be taken seriously, they should perform the same duties and assume the same responsibilities as their female counterparts.


Mary Bedard, RN


Jupiter, FL


The word "nurse" has a certain connotation, and whether we like it or not, people think of women when they hear it. If men want people to understand who they are as nurses, they're just going to have to say "male nurse."


Chris Contillo, BSN, RN,C


Haworth, NJ


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