Nursing as profession involves the provision of care and support to the sickly, elderly, and the suffering. It is perhaps due to the nature of roles and duties nurses are assigned to in the health care settings that make the profession has become a victim of stereotypes. It is estimated that, over 5. 0% of the registered nurses working in the US are males. Stereotypes can be defined as the generalized perceptions and beliefs which people have about others as well towards objects or issues usually resulting into distortion or simplification of the fact.
It can be manifested in the way people react to different situations, as well as towards situations and stimuli. Traditionally in the US, nursing had been a white female dominated profession and any males practicing as a nurse until very recently were considered as impostors and misguided (Bachman, & Panzarine, 1998). This situation worsens depending on the ethnic back ground of the few practicing nurses. Sources of stereotypes differ widely depending on the underlying circumstances but usually they are from the way society was cultured into viewing nursing as a females’ only profession.
The stereotypes have a deep root in tradition whereby some roles in the society especially those related to offering care were demarcated for females while those perceived to be hard would be allocated for males (Doona, 1986). Other possible reasons include the kind of skills involved, usually jobs involving skills seen as soft skills in the society call for females and therefore the society naturally expects such tasks as care provision to be taken over by women while all tasks deemed as hard and involving lots skills are deemed as suitable for males (Pursey, & Luker, 1995).
The stereotypes in male nursing have had great adverse effects on the profession as discussed following chapters. Denial of equal opportunity to promotion. Due to the stereotyping, males in some quarters have continued to suffer due to lack of recognition when it comes to promotions at work. Even when there are vacancies, males suffer and chances of females filing up those vacancies are usually higher than for men. That is usually is correlated with the existing stereotypes.
Discrimination and harassment. Males in the nursing profession are more likely to be discriminated upon due to the fact that they are usually fewer than their female counterparts and therefore do not have the bargaining power. This is worsened by the fact that, the senior management may be entirely comprised of females something which makes it hard for the males to successfully agitate for equal treatment at work. In some cases, actually harassment as well as physical and verbal abuse has been reported.
These affect the morale of the male nurses and it is a leading cause of males shunning the profession. Due to stereotypes, males continues to shun the profession thus denying the profession diversification of skills base as well as the opportunity for recruiting self motivated staff. Research has proved that, in fields where a balance in gender exists, there are more likely to be recorded higher incidences of job satisfaction. Nurse shortage.
The acute nurse shortage being experienced in the US has to some degree been caused by the stereotypes which make the nursing a predominant female profession. As a result, over half of the population is shut out from the field. Effectively the profession is left with one option of sourcing from only about a half is of the population. This has greatly affected the ability of the profession to meet the public demand of nursing services leading to the government hiring from other countries.
Low morale and motivation of practicing male nurses. The stereotypes have contributed low morale amongst male staff. This in turn has had negative effects on the overall job in that less motivated staff is less likely to deliver objectively in their jobs. On the other hand, low morale and lack of motivation amongst male nurses could have a bearing on the number of new males joining the profession since more males than females are likely to learn from the experience of their colleagues and shy away.
On the other hand stereotypes make the male nurses to quit the profession for more accommodating professions. This in turn results to shortage of nurses. Conclusion A lot of efforts have so far been initiated to address the above problem but there is still a need for fresh approaches. Possible solutions to the problem of male nurses’ stereotypes should involve the initiation of public awareness programs aimed at educating the society on the needs for an integrated nursing profession in terms of gender balance.
There is also a need of career counselors to work towards eliminating the stereotyping of nursing as a female only profession. In practice, there is a need for health care practitioners to shun the habit of overlooking the contribution of male nurses for how the latter are treated could affect how potential male nurses would view the profession. Finally there is a need for more females to take into male dominated fields as this would shun the stereotyping of some professions as females fields and others as males fields.