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Thread: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

  1. #1

    GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    Okay, you'd think with the great press and ad campaigns that have been seen this past year, nursing associations and their executive directors would become more sensitive to gender biased statements being made to the press, but nooooooooo! Here's is a quote from a major newspaper (I'll leave nameless) by the Executive Director of that state's (which I'll also leave unnamed) nursing association. This isn't just any association either, it's the official state affiliate of the ANA. She said "...there is a severe shortage of nurses as women bypass the field...". It is high time that the ANA and each of its state members adopt a formal communication policy that agressively addresses the issue of gender bias in both print and written communications, statements, etc. Nursing is not a profession of, by, and for women. And while I'm at it, let me just say I really dislike the term "male nurse". I'm not a male nurse, I'm a nurse. When someone asks me what I do for a living, after 20 years, and I can finally say with great pride "I'm a nurse.". Listen, we don't say "female doctor" do we? It sure has a very different meaning that let's say a women who happens to be a cardiovascular surgeon, don't you think? So let's refer to ourselves as men educated in nursing if we must attach a gender statement.

  2. #2
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    Re: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    When people ask me "So you're a male nurse?" I say "no, I treat females too". But I know what you're saying. I'm the only male at my LTC facility and the only male in my current rotation in school (trying to be an RN), and my instructors say things sometimes like that. I just make it a point never to say that I'm a male nurse. I am a nurse.
    I think that a huge reason nursing is facing the big shortage is that they only actively tap half of the population. My college just opened an EMT to RN program, and they're hoping to increase the number of nursing students they can service, and hoping it'll bring more guys into the field. I think they have the right idea, although I have yet to see a male lecture instructor there. There are a couple of male clinical instructors, so I suppose that's a step in the right direction.
    Lastly, I think you're right about the language of this whole situation being important. Language provides a framework for thought and perception. It's like that old riddle about the man who brings his son to the surgeon, and the surgeon says "I can't operate on this boy, he's my son!" and nobody gets it (the surgeon is his mom). That's how people think about the word "nurse". I've heard the term "medic" tossed around, but I think that instead of changing the word for what we mean, we must change the meaning behind the word. Nobody will ever insult me by calling me a nurse. I advertise it like crazy.
    Thus, I think that as we are able to bring men into the profession, we will necessarily change the perception of the terminology. At the same time, will men consider nursing a viable career option if even the nursing infrastructure uses gender bias language like "...as women bypass the field..." I don't know. I don't think it's helpful. So maybe we men support a two-pronged approach to this one possible solution to the nursing shortage:

    1. We encourage use of language that suggests men as part of the nursing collective, using language to influence our reality.

    2. We encourage men to join, regardless of the terminology they hear, explaining our acceptance within the nursing collective in spite of what people say, thus using reality to influence our language.

  3. #3

    Re: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    I agree that sensitivity to terminology would help a lot in this issue fellas, but I also think that along with working on that aspect nursing schools and associations could consider a much more proactive approach that would help get rid of the public's misguided perception of males nurses (as gay) as well.

    Ad campaigns that targeted male military medics and depicted them caring for sick & injured during wartime as well as giving shots & wellness checks to villagers during humanitarian missions would do well. Agressively advertise on TV and in magazines and invite these types to enroll in RN programs. Give them some credit for their military training.. and get the perception of macho males doing nursing out there to the public!

    Think that would help?

  4. #4
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    Re: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    Pat,
    Although I'm a female nusre (only specifiy so you know I'm not a guy) I want you to know I have a pretty good understanding as my significant other is a nurse. He's been in nursing for about 10 years after a business career...what a difference the 2 professions have proven to be for him!

    I do have to tell you however, that gender bias is only one of the problems....
    as a group, nurses have historically been protrayed as "bimbos" in the media. I distinctly remember a campaign in the 80's . by the nursing associations, to change the way nurses were protrayed on various TV programs. Things have gotten better...by it's taken some time...give it time.
    I've been in nursing for 27 years and continue to believe that "eating our young" is still one of the biggest problems. As a seasoned nurse, how can one feel a new nurse is a "PIA" or threat? I don't know but I've seen to many times when the inexperienced nurse is treated poorly, or as stupid simply because they ask a question or haven't experienced a certian situation and are unfamiliar as to how to handle it.

    Know that most of us simply want educated, dedicated, people to enter the nursing field. Those who practice gender bias, eating the young, etc don't count anyway. Hopefully you can develope a tough skin and let it roll off your back...learn to take the good things about nursing to heart and forget or ignore the bad things if you can't change them. Although I still haven't given up on my attempt s to make changes! I'm just old and stuburn!!

  5. #5
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    Re: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    I was just reading on the ANA website where a school in Oregon was advertising for nurses on the sports page, and male-type magazines. Their posters were of guys looking like guys, "Some are dressed to show their interests outside of nursing, such as snowboarding or motorcycle riding. Other accompanying information concentrates on work settings and backgrounds, such as serving as a U.S. Navy seal." My school started an EMT to RN program that's drawing a lot of guys. It's cool. I just wrote a 500 word essay to get into University of Michigan about the shortage in nursing, and speciafically how men could contribute to its alleviation, so I'm still geeked on the subject .

  6. #6
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    Re: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    Hey all, I'm a newbie. Not even a nursing student--yet. Actually will start at university this fall, doing my prerequisite science courses and hoping to get into an accelerated BSN program.

    Anyway, a propos to this thread, I wanted to mention that in German, nurses used to be known as a (literally) "sister for the sick" (Krankenschwester). Now, as they seem to be more accepting of men in this role, the term has changed to "Caregiver" (Krankenpfleger). I personally prefer the term Medic, but maybe if we first change the meaning behind the term and the social attitudes toward the term 'nurse', it would be to everyone's benefit (Male, Female, Patient, etc.).

    Just my 2 cents.

    BTW, I'm just shy of 40, was in banking and then turned to acting, both of which weren't fulfilling by themselves.

  7. #7

    Re: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    Amen to what Pat said I am a nurse... not a male nurse, I am a NURSE !!!

    Most biblical references to 'nurse' or 'nursing' describe the term as an act rather than a title or profession. We nurse the sick back to health, or at least we try... and that is something to be very proud of.

    I would also like to respond to Otakar (above post) who said that he preferred the term 'Medic'... well my friend, after you have finished nursing school and begin your practice, I am absolutely certain that you will change your tune, and will be proud to tell people that you are a Nurse

    See ya' on the unit soon!

  8. #8
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    Re: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    Yeah what's up with that? I guess we have to go by a different designation such as "almost a docter" which is what everyone assumes we are anyway.

  9. #9

    Re: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    I am a NURSE:
    Patients and family members will call me doctor. I say, "No, I Work for a living."

    Wife of a patient said, "sorry honey, I guess you thought you were going to get a pretty one." I said, "you calling me ugly. I may be bald, but give me a break."

    Red neck asked me once if I was gay. I said, "no, why are you."

    I get very sarcastic with bias stupid remarks, made by people who just doent know any better. Dah

  10. #10
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    Re: GRRR - The Gender Bias Continues

    I have given up on taking affront to or trying smart remarks when asked if I am a nurse. I just smile and confidently inform the patient/family that I am indeed the nurse for the day (have to admit I still THINK those remarks). It's taken me 25 years to reach this point though. I just assume that most patients and families dont have a friggin clue what goes on inside a hospital (esp the ICU where I work) unless they have had a loved one critically ill before.

    Its all perception- and we are perceived in the general public as bimbos (female) or gay +/- underachiever (could have been a Doctor afterall). In Nursing school I had only one freshman classmate give me a hard time about gay VS hetero due to choice of Nursing- the rest took it in stride or stayed silent.

    Gender bias and assumptions are so ingrained that people just assume I am a Doctor when I go into a room or ask me to "go get the nurse" for them. Beat...beat...beat...Oh...thats you- ok well here's whats wrong.... and I take care of it. Takes a little longer to develop trust with some patients and families sometimes.

    Changing the name of nursing will not solve a thing - unless its part of an overall program to change the publics perception of nursing which is really the issue as I see it.

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