Confessions Of A Male Nurse: Dealing With Nasty Jokes, Sexual Propositions
It's a profession whose members help save lives on a daily basis. And given that nursing pays relatively well and is one of the fields projected to grow, more men are considering entering the traditionally female profession.
But male nurses are still the butt of jokes -- and not just in movies, as Ben Stiller's Greg Focker character is in "Meet the Parents." At least that's according to Reddit user Ultrafishe, who identified himself as a male nurse to describe what he says it's really like to be one. [Note: Reddit's "Ask Me Anything" section uses anonymous sources, which can't be verified. Excerpts that appear here retain their original spelling and grammar.]
When Ultrafishe started as a nurse in an hospital emergency room 2½ years ago, he wrote, the ribbing even came from doctors there. "But that's how it is when you start until you prove yourself. Now all the doctors seem to respect me and trust my judgement." (He didn't get into specifics about the barbs sent his way over his career, but said references to "Meet the Parents" were common, as was the use of the word, "murse," which he said he doesn't find offensive.)
Ultrafishe said that the only person who really gives him "crap" about being a male nurse is his uncle, who is foreign-born, and still "has the stereotype in his head that a nurse is someone who just pushes old people around in wheelchairs." Even a doctor who had teased him later invited him to his "waterfront home" after a particularly harrowing rescue in which Ultrafishe said that he helped save a life. (He didn't describe the specifics of the rescue or the comments made by the doctor.)
Ultrafishe never directly answered questions about his sexuality, which was a matter of interest to many participants in the Reddit session. But he did say that being a male nurse means that patients do come on to him, but he's not really interested because his "patient population is usually pretty ghetto/nasty/possibly a prostitute." He did describe his female co-workers as "GORGEOUS."
How Patients React
Ultrafishe said that he learned early to always introduce himself as a nurse when walking into a room of patients to make sure that they don't think he's a doctor. "Quite a few" patients say they prefer "having a male nurse because they keep a cooler head in critical situations," he wrote.
To protect himself, though, Ultrafishe said that he makes sure a female colleague is in the room if he needs to insert a urinary catheter, presumably to shield himself from accusations of sexual harassment. ("People can say anything despite whether it happened or not.") Ultrafishe further said that he also makes sure to ask the patients if they'd prefer a woman do the job.
So why not go for the full M.D.?
The question, which may not always be asked of female nurses, was certainly on the mind of many of the participants of the Reddit session. And for Ultrafishe, the answer was simple: Lifestyle. He simply wants spare time to play his music on the side. (He didn't get into what kind of music he plays.) But either way, he said, he earns "a lot more money than most people" he knows.
But all the questions about gender and title shrivel in importance when considering the work that goes on in an ER, he said. He knows it sounds "cheesy," he wrote, but he was drawn to doing a "job that can make a difference."
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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