One of my sons became a nurse, not a male nurse, a nurse. Like the term lady doctor, which (Thank Heavens) used to be much more common than it is now, the term male nurse reveals a (perhaps unconscious) gender prejudice. Have you ever heard anyone called a female nurse, or a male doctor? It’s not likely that you have. Have you ever questioned the term male nurse when you heard it? That’s not likely either. We seem to have the idea that men can’t, or wouldn’t want to be professionals who look after patients on a daily basis rather than seeing patients for approximately 15-20 minutes, writing a prescription and going on to the next patient – you know, a ‘doctor’. Granted surgeons often see us for longer periods of time in the operating room, but that doesn’t count because we don’t see them – we’re unconscious – and besides, surgeons are attended by OR nurses who assist them at all times.
Personally I think it demeans the profession of nursing to see nurses as nurturing ‘mommy’ figures. Nurses are highly educated and trained individuals who, along with paramedics and other health-care workers probably save just as many lives as M.D’s.
And by the way, after my son, the nurse, earned his PhD, and became a university professor, no-one thought of him as a male professor. Thankfully no-one I know talks about female professors either. Oh, and one other little gender prejudice, not all male nurses are gay, or lacking the academic standards to gain entry into medical school, but that’s another can of worms altogether!