Male Nurses: On Defying Stereotypes


Admit it. Nursing is a female-dominated world just like the Philippine National Police being a male-dominated profession.

Nonetheless, we have witnessed how the usually  aggressive and dominant men have penetrated the nursing industry over the years. In this modern era, undoubtedly, sex is not an issue anymore. But just like their female counterparts in respective male-dominated professions, Men of Nursing still face certain stereotypes every once in a while in the span of their career.

We all know that Florence Nightingale and the rest of nursing theorists we have ever known are female. In addition to that, people have been oriented to an idea that a ‘nurse’ is a compassionate female wearing white uniform and white nursing cap. This is an image of Nursing that is far from what we really know now. I can’t blame them because even in our nursing school way back in college, most of my classmates and clinical instructors are female. Even our college dean is a dignified, old woman. But as I observe, men, no matter how small their population is, are slowly proving to the world that gender will never be an issue and that they will fight to break any existing stereotypes.

And what exactly are those stereotypes currently existing for our beloved male nurses?

1. Some patients prefer female nurses bacause they believe that female nurses are more approachable, caring, and less threatening.

Just like what I said, I can’t blame those patients because if I’m confined in a hospital (especially if I’m a girl), I would prefer a female nurse as well because they look more submissive, gentle, and competent enough to provide TLC. Male nurses, on the other hand, are commonly mistaken as “suplado” and someone who is too intimidating to be approaced (especially if the male nurse is stunningly good-looking). But that is just one side of a male nurse. Perhaps our society have been used to the idea that men are dominating, strong, and usually do jobs that are physically and mentally demanding.

2. People usually believe that men should either be policemen/soldiers or engineers; that men should do a “man’s job”.

I just found this idea too lame. Men, regardless of their true sexuality, are free to choose the path that they will take in life. They can be a nurse or a hairdresser, house husband, tailor, or whatever they want to do. It will all lead to the fact that life is all about choices and fulfillment will never be achieved if we are too concerned about societal pressures and stereotypes. Besides, being a nurse means having the ‘heart’ to serve and doesn’t put mush importance to one’s sexuality.

3. Male nurses usually suffer from a case of “mistaken identity”; they are usually mistaken as a gay, a doctor, or just one of the “orderlies”.

For the record, not all male nurses are gays (although I admit I know a lot of gay nurses), not all male health professionals wearing white uniforms or blazers are doctors, and not all employees in hospitals who lift patients or push wheelchairs (although this is actually an edge for male nurses given the body strength that they have) are “orderlies”. I really do hope that male nurses will one day create a concrete image of a “male nurse” to prevent mistakes, especially for patients who are not that familiar in hospital settings.

Although some of these false assumptions occur in the hospital every once in a while, I know that at the end of the day, compassion and unconditional care for patients will still be the components of what we know as a NURSE. Sexual orientation should never exist as an obstacle to do one’s nursing duties and responsibilities. Rather, it should complement one’s skills and identity as a health care professional.

Male nurse should never be better than a female nurse, and vice versa.

Let’s all remember that Nursing is all about care, love, and compassion. That, I think, will defy all stereotypes.