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ONU Male Nurses Prove They're "Tough" Enough, "Man" Enough to be Nurses
Meet the Men
"I love the patient interaction aspect of nursing. It's a meaningful career that makes you feel good at the end of the day. I hope to get my masters in nursing and eventually work in either pediatrics or an emergency room setting."
Fairview Park, Ohio
"Most students don't really delve into their professions until their third or even fourth years, so it's exciting that I'm already interacting with patients and putting my skills into practice. After graduation, my options are pretty boundless as a nurse, but I also have minors in public relations and dance, which open even more doors. I'm not sure where I'll end up, but with so many opportunities available, I can't wait to see what the future holds."
Middle Point, Ohio
"The best way to describe nursing is rewarding. It requires long hours, high stress and mental toughness, but when your patient smiles and you know you helped make it happen, there's no better feeling. I was sick as child and I was absolutely in love with the people who took care of me. If I can bring comfort to a patient, then I have succeeded."
"Coming into the program, I knew I'd be a minority. But for me, choosing to be a nurse was not about how many men were already in the field; rather, nursing was something I wanted to do and I was going to do it regardless. "
"Because the program is young and still growing, our class is really close-knit. Nursing is all about teamwork, and in such an intense program, the camaraderie we have really helps us stay motivated. I know every one of the 19 people in the sophomore class. We have nearly every class together, we study together, we empathize when someone has a bad day, we push each other - and that will make us better nurses in the long run."
"Are you man enough to be a nurse?"
While this expression may have started as a lighthearted reaction to the challenges faced by men pursuing nursing degrees, for the men in Ohio Northern University's nursing program, the answer is a resounding "yes."
"I couldn't imagine doing anything else," said Cody Hughes, the sole male in the junior nursing class.
Hughes' sentiments are echoed by the sophomores in the program.
"I have nursing in my blood," commented Bryan Homyak. "I started out in a different major and quickly realized that, not only was nursing a chance to be successful, it was a chance to do something meaningful."
Since the ONU nursing program's installation in 2005, students interested in a lifetime of helping others, as well as what sophomore Chris Toney terms "endless job opportunities," have found their niche in nursing.
"People underestimate how difficult the profession is," remarked Josh Bordner, sophomore. "There is no 'learn it and forget it' in nursing. Everything builds."
In addition to class and lab, sophomores spend four hours a week in the clinical setting, applying the skills they learn to real patients right away.
"At ONU I get to immerse myself in the major from the beginning," explained Jeffrey Penny. "That's very exciting."
By the end of fall quarter, sophomores will be able to perform a head-to-toe patient assessment, all in preparation for next quarter when they move ahead to treatment and wound care.
Juniors, however, spend eight hours a week in clinicals (16 next quarter) working hand-in-hand with regularly staffed nurses on more advanced topics like administering medications and inserting feeding tubes.
"Everything we learn we put directly into action," said Hughes, "But the advantage of working with a nurse is that we get to progress at our own comfort level. If we're not quite ready, we assist and observe until we are."
But being successful as male nurse requires more than mastering the concepts. Men must also be prepared to combat deep-seated stereotypes.
"People are prejudiced against male nurses to some degree. There is always the assumption that men are doctors, not nurses," explained Robin White, assistant professor of nursing. "But the reality is that everyone - men, women, children - needs care. Male nurses only make sense."
The men at ONU knew they would be under scrutiny when they entered the program, but most find patients receptive to their care, proof that times are changing.
"Society has a million reasons why a man shouldn't be a nurse," said Hughes, alluding to the typecast that men are not nurturing, "But they're empty reasons. There's nothing feminine about nursing - it's hard work, and the nurses I work with are some of the toughest people I've ever met."
Like a domino effect, the more men who are willing to stand up to the stereotypes, the more men who will follow suit.
"At the end of the day," said Bordner, "the question is not just are you man enough to handle the stereotypes, but rather, are you man enough to surpass the stereotypes and succeed in a field you love."
Written by Autumn Steiner
Junior, professional writing