A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Male Nurses

I am a man. I have been a registered nurse since 1993. I am proficient and competent in my field. Before I became a nurse, I served my country in the US Navy, in all male units.

Nobody ever says "She's a black nurse."
Nobody says "She's a Jewish nurse."
Nobody says "She's a lesbian nurse."
Yet it is OK to say "He's a male nurse," as though being nurse strips a man of his masculinity.

Then women call you close and whisper to you "I always thought male nurses were so much nicer." Is this supposed to impress me? Am I supposed to take this as a compliment? Does anyone ever whisper into a black nurse's ear "I always thought black nurses were were so much nicer"?

Do not preach to me about sexism. I know sexism. I experience it every day. I am a man. I am a nurse. I am not a male nurse. My nursing is not defined by my gender. My masculinity is not diminished by nursing.

And you know what? I wear the bouffant in surgery.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you angry? It is a female dominated prefession made famous by females like Florence Nightingale. Be proud of being "Male Nurse"...

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A mite irritated with the female population today, Xav?

"Snap" on THR

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

verily I say unto you......the only other profession where this is legitimized is male prostitution.


5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a man, I work for a credit union. I started as a teller then advanced to "loan officer" where I open new accounts, key loan applications, work with IRA's etc..
I wish I had a dollar for every time a client told me that I was doing womens work. I'd be contributing to your ammo fund!


5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lighten up Francis! ;^)

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I owe my life to skilled nursing care. All you'll get from me is "thank you nurse". One of my best friends is a PA who goes around like a circuit preacher for the VA. He doesn't hear too much flack from the old guys, I guess they are used to medics. "Illigitimi non caborundum" (don't let the bastards wear you down).


7:24 PM  
Anonymous Thad Adams said...

I am just now getting the same comments from my patients and some ignorant males and females. I am a 2nd year nursing student here in Oregon. It is a little irritating. Nobody calls a woman who is a firefighter a "female firefighter" do they? Or a "female paramedic" Or God forbid a "female doctor". We are nurses nothing more or less.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous JLTeague RN said...

Xavier, don't let it get to you too much I've been telling folks "it's just NURSE, most people can see that I'm male" since the early 80's.Some have even responded. And no I don't wear a bouffant in the OR. I have a bagful of fun cloth tie on's.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier, don't let it get to you too much I've been telling folks "it's just NURSE, most people can see that I'm male" since the early 80's.Some have even responded. And no I don't wear a bouffant in the OR. I have a bagful of fun cloth tie on's.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous root@localhost said...

Xavier, I hope I never meet you "In the line of duty". That being said, I hope you're the first person I look up and see if I'm injured and need help.

I've had encounters both female nurses or doctors in which I thought "Gee, female nurses/doctors are so much nicer" but JUST as many times.. I thought "What a f**king b*tch!!!, where's the guy in charge???!!)

We think, but seldom say the first thing that comes to mind in our day to day life. We're typically “Politically correct” around strangers when everything is hunky-dory . But... In a life/death/pain/emotional crisis, we might not be so nice or thoughtful, Even things we don't really believe can be the first thing said in a nanosecond, but can never be taken back, no matter how many times we tell the person "I didn't really mean it". Humans often say what's on our mind at that very moment in time (no matter how irrational, stupid pr desperate), whether we're thankful for the medical help or feeling a threat by someone that's “Out to get us”, we are, only human. We have an ingrained condition. Long comment longer.... Yes, you can be impressed or not. Either way, it's a compliment. When faced with a “Thank You”, no matter how poorly worded or thought out it may be, smile, (insert what you already know the text book training and real life here) put your hand on their shoulder, re-assure the casualty that everything will be O.K. Even if faced with the awful reality that it won't. When dealing with an abusive patient, see if there's another nurse immediately available (jah, often NOT) to trade off with (Gee, thank you for saving me, the other guy was trying to kill me!!!). Heh! we're not very rational when injured/in pain! Either way, take a deep breath and sleep well. You always do the best that can be done, make no mistake about it, it shows. Someone else is responsible beyond what we can ever do. You've chosen this job because schmucks like me could NEVER muster the courage. Someone has to do it, you've stepped up. Thank you.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Mulliga said...

I can sympathize. When I worked in the ER, I saw these kinds of snide remarks all the time.

Well, at least you're not a flight attendant, Xavier. Man they have to deal with a lot of crap ;P

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm stereotyping.... I'm a geologist and for what was an almost totally male dominated subject, have two female colleagues sat in the office today. Neither fits the old two way classification of female geologists:

1)shouldn't have been a Geologist

2)shouldn't have been a female

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post Xavier. As rants go, that one was spot on. And saying it doesn't make you bitchy, it makes you aware. Most of us live in a dangerous world, where everyone is angry. All of the time. Why? Because words are weapons, they can uplift or they can wound. And most of the time, we don't even know we're doing it, and certainly don't understand the result. I'm not talking that PC rubbish, just honesty. And think before you speak. Next time you run into that just blow them a kiss and smile. They won't know what to do.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And thats why slavish languages have names of jobs changing when you refer to men or women(not only jobs its a general rule, usually you can easily tell after one sentence if writer is female or male) ... Of course it often happens there is no women name for the job and less often there is no mens version and sometimes women or men versions are unintentionally funny*... Luckily Nurse isn't one of them.. if you ever want to know how nurse that happens to be a man is called in Polish: Pielęgniarz...

*female driver is same as driving wheel, and female psychologist is something even worse :)

Back to topic you better quit reacting to that sexist thing..its all in your mind and other peoples minds imprinted by PC junkies. We weren't aware of problem with something being sexist or derogative in until we got western TV channels :)


10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry. $100,000 a year, you're laughing all the way to the bank. A lot of these guys who make fun of you probably don't make a third of what you take home. That should make being a male nurse easier to take. You'll always be known as the "NURSE WITH A GUN" that's mui macho...

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy crap you've created an international furor! Seriously though, dude, consider the male/female ratio in your line and compare to people saying "female fighter pilot"; I don't know shit about flying a jet and if I were up in one with someone who did I wouldn't give a rat's ass if they were white, black, or green, male, female, or in-between. Same goes for a nurse standing over me sticking a needle hooked to a bag of God-knows-what into my vein; just please know what the f you're doing.

But things is what they is, and as long as something is unusual it will attract unusual attention. Nurses who are male might not be so unusual soon; with thousands of skilled "guy" jobs disappearing from the auto industry, etc. and the boomer population about to need a lot more nursing, anybody hoping to make $30 an hour better be checking into converting their skills with non-living machinery to the living kind; medical is the growth field of our time, and not everyone can be a doctor, male or female.

But if this obvious reasoning doesn't resonate with your target audience, the silhouette of that big ol' .45 cal. phallic symbol you tote should do the trick. Keep it real, Xavier, don't sweat the ignorant bleaters of the world, there isn't time... but you don't wanna give the male-nurse baiters ammo, either; a freaking chain letter??? Damn, man. jtc

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I'm a male nurse. I never get totally used to the jokes, although I am much better at handling it now. The worst time I had was when I worked on a telemetry unit and we were required to wear thin white scrubs--I could've lived without the jokes about my boxers. I also recall some patients coming out and asking me if I was married to a woman.

I actually think things have improved for us in the last few years. I guess it's because there are more men entering the profession.

Be good at what you do and be proud that you do a good job.

Oh-I can't stand the bouffant caps. I won't wear 'em unless absolutely necessary. I prefer the traditional scrub caps.

Just my $.02.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous DickieT said...

As a male nurse I have known from the beginning I was going into a Utero-centric world. Most of the female nurses I work with eventually confide that they believe things are getting better as more men become nurses. The fact is that most male nurses I meet come from construction, the oil fields, etc. and are less inclined to suffer the indignities the nursing profession had come to live with. Nursing was the best move I ever made and I would suggest anyone to look into it.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Although I have only a student nurse, I have a been a nurses assistant for almost 5 years. I started in high school and I never really thought that the nursing profession would catch on to me. I work in the ER, I can't see myself working Tele, Obs, or Surgery. Maybe Trauma-ICU or Neuro-ICU, but ER will always be in my blood.

We have also heard "Male Nurse" around the unit, from patients, co-workers, and even doctors. Heck, some doctors call us "Murse" (male-nurse) after it was coined on that stupid drama, "ER".

Frankly, I just stopped caring about. Mainly because I know that when I go home, I am just me and no one else. Besides, I have other things to worry about, such as passing my classes!

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have fond memories of the many masculinity tests I was subjected to as a student nurse from 1973 to 1976. My patients and peers would ask me why I wanted to be a male nurse...I'd reply "cause I wanna find me a rich female Doctor to marry!" That would end the testing on a comical note. Fortunately for me it was love at first sight for a beautiful OR Tech in a form fitting mini scrub dress(yes they had scrub dresses back in 1976!) We've been married for 30 years now.....wonder how many doctors I would have been through.......lol!

7:48 AM  
Anonymous nurse granty rides again said...

I'm a male nurse that likes guns, too. I like the manliness of guns, and they reassure me that I haven't drifted too far into the land of PC--

You'll know you've gone too far into that land if you find yourself nodding in agreement to all of the things said at nursing functions: men beat women, men own guns (own a gun and you're under suspicion of any number of things, or so the thinking goes) men hunt (hunt for animals and then try talking about it with nursing peers--uh oh, look out ostracism).
Nursing in California is dominated by a left-leaning ideology that makes manliness suspect. If you are a male nurse, you're tolerated and accepted as long as you tow the PC line and display only your nurturig side.

Step over it and you're a loose cannon. Lock up the med cart, here comes Dirty Harry.

Doctors, on the other hand--oh well, they're just like dear old dad--conservative, hunt and fish, no problem. They'd be deviant if they didn't at least play golf.

But male nurses --well, they better just be females with dicks if they know what's good for 'em.

Or so the thinking goes.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a "male nurse" since 1985, I agree with you...I have always been somewhat defensive about the use of that term, but have grown to accept it. As a male in nursing school I was excluded from OB/Gyn clinicals since I "wouldn't be working in that area anyway." Over the course of these many years, I have had many discussions about the apparent acceptance of this gender discrimination in nursing. Inevitably, the females believe it is reasonable to have a female patient request a female nurse but not OK for a male to request a male nurse. Ask yourself how many times you have heard a female nurse tell a male concerned about discussing his "manly" concerns with a female to, "get over it. I've seen it all before.!
In any event, keep up the good work and keep blogging.
Another male nurse with a gun.

10:04 PM  
Blogger "Tarak" said...

Word. I've been called "Gaylord" several times, by the way.

Love the bouffant comment.

12:36 PM  
Blogger "Tarak" said...

Of further interest, I have that action figure on my bookshelf!

6:38 PM  

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