Hello to nurses everywhere. Male and Female! In this month's newsletter, I continued looking at the issues that face male nurses. It is difficult to think that discrimination and gender biases still exist in the work place today but it would be ignorant to deny that fact. Hopefully, society will continue to make strides in the right direction and realize that nurses can be male or female, short or tall, big or small. I also took a look at the busy and growing world of medical/surgical nurses. It is a fascinating and all important field of nursing.
I encourage nurses to send in ideas for articles or just some feedback on something written. Articles written by you are strongly encouraged. Put some pen to paper and share your thoughts and ideas. Keep enjoying your summer!
Attitudes Toward Male Nurses
Decades ago there was a bias towards male nurses but does that still exist today? Many male and female nurses say that although they have encountered or heard about gender discrimination against men, they believe it is the fault of a few individuals rather than a pervasive problem. "Most nurses don't care who you are as long as you can do the job and most patients feel the same way. The perception that men are stymied in nursing today is overblown," said Vern Bullough, Ph.D., RN, adjunct professor of nursing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and a distinguished professor emeritus at State University of New York. "Some hospitals, for a while, tried to keep men out of ob/gyn floors and women's health wards. Generally, though that has not happened in recent years. There is still some difficulty for men to become nurse-midwives, but even that has broken down," Bullough said. "Some women deliberately discriminate against male nurses, but this is a small minority of people. I've had tremendous support from female nurses," said Bullough.
Mark Buike, RN, feels at ease and confident as a male nurse. Buike, a Nurse II in the pediatrics ICU at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, says that any door he has wanted to walk through has been open to him. "In nursing school, even though it was 1980 and I initially went to a Catholic diploma school, they made every service open. I've worked in newborn ICU, pediatric ICU, adult ER, and cardiovascular ICU. I've never felt that I was not allowed to go to any particular area. I've been to delivery C-sections and ob/gyn emergencies in the ER. I've never felt stymied," he said.
To better understand the plight of her male colleagues and students, Karen Morin, DSN, RN, professor of nursing and professor in charge of graduate nursing programs at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, joined the AAMN board. That membership, she says has made her realize the subtle discriminations and biases that women, including nurses, physicians and patients, interject. "Nursing faculty needs to be aware of potential problems, especially when patients might feel uncomfortable about having a male nurse," Morin said.
Jerry Lucas, RN, publisher of Male Nurse Magazine, reports that we are still far behind. He says, "We can get them in, but we can't keep them in. Some studies have shown that men drop out of nursing school and the profession at a greater rate than women do, although reasons for this are not clear and need further research. One possibility is the stress from gender discrimination; another is that the work does not meet the expectation which is a common reason for female nurses to drop out."
Medical/Surgical nursing has evolved from an entry level position to an adult health specialty. It is no longer viewed as a stepping stone but rather the backbone to every healthcare institution. Considering the depth of this specialty, it is easily one of the largest groups of practicing medical professionals. They comprise more than fifty percent of nurses working in hospitals. Med/Surg nurses care for the adult patient in many settings, such as inpatient care units, clinics, home health care, ambulatory care units, long-term care nursing homes, surgical centers and universities to just name a few. The med/surg nurse is on the front line every day and on the cutting edge of what is new and evolving.
Because medical/surgical nursing is a specialty, they have their own professional organization, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN). The AMSN is dedicated to fostering the excellence in adult health med/surg nursing. Nurses have the opportunity to earn certification as a Certified Medical Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN). An exam is offered in over forty states across the United States. The AMSN also has a mentoring program, Nursing Nurturing Nurses (N3).
Medical/Surgical Nursing is a challenging but rewarding specialty. Med/Surg nurses manage large numbers of patients each day. They juggle assignments, do assessments, administer care, treatments and medications then document everything. The AMSN predicts that the challenges for nurses are mounting. Nurses are working in a world in which patients have more chronic illnesses and co-morbidities which leads to longer inpatient stays. It is not uncommon for each patient to need 10 to 12 medications a day. That number jumped 71% from 1994 to 2005. In addition, the people who have chronic illnesses are living longer and this increases the complexity of caring for these patients. The AMSN also predicts that med/surg nurses will feel the impact of the additional 30 million Americans who are enjoying the healthcare reforms.
The AMSN realizes that more and more demands are put on nurses but also feels that nurses can take advantage of the benefits of changes rather than feel overwhelmed by it. There is technology and pharmacology that is new and exciting for patients. Nurses are encouraged to stay current with practices by reading nursing journals and visiting the AMSN's website. Nurses are also encouraged to pursue professional development and to focus on their own self-care. Med/Surg nurses are resilient; coming back the next day to start all over again. Every nurse knows that the greatest reward is to see someone's quality of life improve because of their efforts.
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