Feb 252004
 
Authors: Taylour Nelson

The feminine white dress and black cap image nurses have held

for many years may need to be erased as the nursing shortage

reaches new heights in America.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently announced nursing

as one of the highest-ranking occupations in job growth.

The report said the number of employed nurses will rise from 2.3

million to 2.9 million by the year 2012, but there will still be

1.1 million jobs for nurses to fill.

Men make up about 5.4 percent of nurses in America, a number

that could be attributed to the fact that nursing has historically

been considered a woman’s profession, said Candace Pruett, the

nurse recruiter at Poudre Valley Hospital.

“History has a lot to do with the nurse stereotype,” Pruett

said. “Before the woman’s rights movements, women were teachers or

nurses or moms, and really had only three career options, and this

stereotyped nursing as a woman’s profession.”

A stereotype that Jerry Lucas, a night supervisor for the

Medical Center for Southern Indiana and publisher of

malenursemagazine.com, is trying to overcome.

“We look at what we see in the movies and what we have seen over

the years: most male nurses are med-school dropouts or gay,” he

said. “When we don’t see (men) out there, it creates a stigma

against men in nursing.”

He said often textbooks and medical conferences will refer to

nurses as women by phrasing sentences with “her job” and “she

will.”

By speaking to elementary school students, Poudre Valley

Hospital spreads male nurse awareness, Pruett said.

“By the third grade, most kids have an image of what (they

think) is a good profession and what isn’t,” Pruett said. “We try

to give a more modern image, that there’s not only women out

there.”

Pruett has written a book titled, “A Visit with my Uncle Ted,”

intended to educate elementary school students about men in

nursing.

In the book, a child learns about his uncle’s job and the

benefits of being a male nurse.

Poudre Valley Hospital currently has 18 job openings for nurses,

with a minimum annual salary starting at $44,000.

Still, the number of men attending nursing school at the

University of Northern Colorado and Front Range Community College

reflect the national percentages of men in nursing.

Of the 176 students in the UNC nursing program, nine are men,

and at Front Range 10 of the 172 students are male.

Margaret Andrews, director of the nursing program at UNC, said

the staff encourages the male alumni and students to network with

other men who are interested in the health profession.

Lucas said he was not initially interested in becoming a nurse

but had been a medic while serving in the Army.

“Most male nurses have some sort of military background. There

they experience the things (nurses) do right now and that starts

their interest,” he said.

Craig Luzinski, chief nursing officer for Poudre Valley

Hospital, decided to become a nurse after being hospitalized with

pneumonia as a child.

“I had always been interested in health care and nursing

provides direct patient care,” he said. “It has a lot of

flexibility in the job and has many different units and

environments to go into.”

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