Friday, May 20

‘Economic factor’ – More men in the nursing profession?


KUALA LUMPUR: “Why choose nursing as a profession?” this writer asked a male student nurse at a public medical centre here recently.

The student, Aiman Zamani from Kelantan replied: “The answer is the same if one is asked why he or she chooses teaching or engineering or other professions as a career. It is to look for a stable income. But each individual has different reasons.

“To me, nursing promises a stable job. Nursing is one of the best careers to have, regardless of what happens to the economy. During good economic times or otherwise, there will always be a need for nurses.

“People now are living longer. They want to live healthier and strive to take care of themselves through the use of early detection methods and preventative care against diseases.”

That was the answer given by Aiman, who, despite getting 6As in the 2010 SPM examination, opted to joining a nursing college instead of pursuing other courses in the university.


Female profession

Nursing is traditionally thought of as a female profession, since nurses are health caregivers and usually act as assistants to doctors and other medical professionals.

This stereotype persists, but is becoming less prevalent.

Male nurses used to be looked at negatively and it was assumed that they just did not have what it takes to be doctors, and therefore settled for a woman’s job.

Some may also assume that males would not be as emotionally sensitive as female nurses.

Previously, men are also deterred from entering the nursing profession for fear that they would be seen as unmanly. There is also the assumption that nurses only work for doctors, are poorly paid, and do not have career growth opportunities.


Men raise prestige

Some consider that men in the nursing profession will raise the occupation’s prestige.

The top roles in nursing still seem to emphasise what are traditionally seen as male characteristics – leadership, dedication to work and technical knowledge.

Men may experience biases in the nursing profession. In addition to being seen as undesirable by their female counterparts, male nurses might make their female patients feel uncomfortable.

Patients may think that nurses should be female because they are more caring and supportive. However, research indicates that men care just as much as women, not only about their patients, but about empowerment of the profession as a whole.


Nursing is a challenge

Another male student nurse at the same public medical centre, Ramlee Saadon of Parit in Perak, said: “More males now are taking up this profession, as they want a stable career that can enable them to meet their financial needs,” he said.

While the promise of a stable career and advancement opportunities are tempting, what really pushed Ramlee to pursue a nursing career was patient interaction.

“The desire to help people is the same in all medical professions, but the difference with nursing is that we deal with patients over a longer period of time.

“In another respect, we deal with patients when they are in their most trying times in a more intense way,” said Ramlee.


Not many men in the field

Despite recent developments, the ratio of men to women in the local nursing field is still uneven. However, this is slowly but steadily shifting.

“As we continue to see a greater number of men in nursing, it is clear we are moving in the right direction,” said nursing sciences lecturer Mary Lim.

To Lim, if a patient feels secure and confident with masculinity, then there should be no problems in having male nurses on duty in hospitals. To male student nurses like Aiman and Ramlee, nursing is also a great career for those seeking employment flexibility. — Bernama