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Are you the doctor?

Male nurses face unique struggles in class and work

By Natalie Kanakares
On March 28, 2013

  • Molly Link. Rae Riebe


At Kirkwood Community College nursing is a popular emphasis for students.

However, it tends to be a female dominated career. According to the Census Bureau, male registered nurses make up only 9.6 percent of the workforce, up from a mere 2.6 percent in 1970.

At Kirkwood male enrollment is above the national average at approximately 10-12 percent, according to Lauri Hughes, department coordinator for nursing. discussed challenges male nurses face over their female counterparts. Male nurses can be treated differently because they are expected to be physically stronger.  Patients can assume a male nurse is a doctor or a student in clinicals. It was also suggested men in nursing may be expected to meet higher performance standards.

According to the American Society of Registered Nurses, men in nursing can be perceived as deviant and can face social stigmas in the workplace. They can also find challenges in giving intimate care to female patients. also stated that male nurses can face stigmas in the classroom through pressure to join more traditionally male or gender neutral fields. They can also feel outnumbered and left out in the classroom.

Hughes agreed with this, stating, "Sometimes there's a stigma in the level of compassion men have. But our male students have lots of compassion. You can tell that they have the ability to care on that level."

Dr. Jimmy Reyes, dean of nursing, said he sees this as a missed opportunity. "There are so many great things students-male or female-can do."

Reyes also spoke of improving patient outcomes through the improving demographics in nursing. "We need more diversity, not just ethnically or racially but in gender so we can provide equal care to patients. By enriching the field we can improve patient outcomes."

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