A nursing organization that formed last year called Emporia Men’s Assembly of Nurses aims to help combat the surprise and stereotypes that male nurses often face. It also provides a space for male nurses at ESU to meet and discuss all factors which affect men as nurses.
“It’s obviously not a male-dominated occupation, patients are a little bit surprised sometimes when they see a male nursing student walk in the room,” said Ruben Rodriguez, president of EMAN and senior nursing major.
Over the last 10 years, the ESU nursing department has had a range of 2 percent to 8 percent of males in their overall class, according to Linda Adams-Wendling, chair of the nursing department and adviser for EMAN. This is consistent with the Kansas percentage of 8 percent and congruent with the 8 percent to 15 percent national average.
“There is a lot of interest, but because of stereotypes associated with it a lot of them don’t pursue it or they just don’t have a male nurse role model whom they can look up to, they don’t think of it as something a male can do,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, with the help of EMAN, hopes to perform outreach and visit local high schools to talk to students about nursing, either this semester or next fall.
“Go out to the high school to talk to some of these students, especially the males, to let them know ‘hey, it’s okay to do nursing,’ just because it’s a predominantly female thing it’s still fine, if that’s what you truly want to do, it’s fine,” Rodriguez said.
EMAN is open to any nursing student at ESU, regardless of gender, and to nursing professionals.
According to Rodriguez, it’s an opportunity for both male and female nursing students to collaborate and to try and recruit more males into the profession.
“This association is the only one in Kansas and so again, our nursing students showing how progressive they are,” Adams-Wendling said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them and their leadership abilities...our males that are in our program, they have to work just as hard as anyone else coming into the program.”
According to Rodriguez, most of the negative reactions come from those outside the nursing program.
“I think it’s really amazing, because we don’t see a lot of issues here in our program,” Rodriguez said. “Usually when you hear these negative connotations about a male nurse, it’s usually outside of the university or people who don’t really understand male nursing or aren’t familiar, haven’t had experience with hospitals and having a male nurse.”
The main problem that he and other male nurses encounter is patient communication and the usage of therapeutic touch, Rodriguez said.