Nursing Rounds Parler: Table Topics

Working at the Bedside as a Male Nurse

Why we need more men at the bedside with Doug Smith

Let’s talk about it

With an increase in the conversation around gender equality, gender inequality, and gender role specifications, it would be remiss of me not to discuss the role of men in the field of nursing. Though, historically, nursing has been a field that was made up of a majority of women, there is an increase of men joining the profession.

I have had several male preceptors—both for my preceptorship following the didactic portion of nursing school, as well as, my new grad program. Both phenomenal nurses and the knowledge they’ve passed on to me, I continue to use today.

Perception isn’t reality

So how is this topic even relevant? In my experience, there has been a difference of how both patients and staff perceive males on the unit.  I discussed this specific scenario with Doug Smith, a Staffing Resource Center Registered Nurse, to see what his experience has been at the bedside. 

Doug Smith striking a quick pose when he’s not saving lives at the bedside

There are many instances where people are coming from a patriarchal perspective, in which, they are still not used to seeing women in medicine.  I have watched as patients automatically assume that their nurse was their doctor, simply based on the fact that the nurse was male.

But we’re getting better

We continue to make improvements in this area, as representation of women in the media and in leadership roles, continue to help us see beyond our past limited views.  There is a place for both men and women in nursing. Medicine is a collaborative effort, and we can only improve when we bring our experiences together, regardless of gender.

While sitting in one of my earlier nursing courses, I can recall hearing my professor say that nursing was one of the most trusted professions.  After the recession, more than a decade ago, several people decided to go back to school, with nursing being amongst one of the many professions people decided to get in to.

In Gallup’s 2019 poll assessing ethics and honesty, nurses were again ranked the mosttrusted profession in the United States for the 20th year. 

Oncology Nursing Society

The journey

Doug began his journey as a human biology major, with the intent of going to medical school. Like many other college attendees, he decided not to pursue that path. Which, by the way, is totally normal seeing that most people do not know what they want to do with the rest of their lives at the age of 18–but I digress. That’s a topic for a different discussion. 

After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree, he decided to pursue a career in nursing by completing an accelerated nursing program. An accelerated program, unlike a traditional route, allows students with a Bachelors degree to complete the nursing program in about a year. It’s extremely intense, and Doug attributes his success to simply allowing himself to be “engrossed in it.” 

Doug successfully completed his program and has now practiced for nearly a decade directly with patients.  Having maintained a thriving career in nursing, he is also a talented musician and husband to fellow nurse, Marion Mccomick.

Doug & Marion, both nurses,
celebrating love on their wedding day

Burnout: Is it real

We discussed the incidence of burnout at the bedside which is extremely common. Nursing can be both a physical and emotionally draining career, so it’s imperative to find ways to provide yourself with the essential work-life balance that all of us need.

Doug is an extremely talented musician!
Finding extracurricular activities outside of the bedside
is key to achieving a good work-life balance

Having  been exposed to different specialties, which encompass all progressive care units as an in-house traveler, Doug emphasizes the importance of trusting your instincts. Not everything is black and white in the world of nursing, and you’re often left choosing the “most right” action, as opposed to seeing things as simply right or wrong.  He describes feeling a “bump” of competence at both year two and year five. Ultimately, patient care is a continuous learning process.

So are you thinking about a career in nursing?  Or maybe you’ve already started and you’re in your first three months, feeling like you made the biggest mistake by choosing this path. Remember, to be patient and be kind to yourself. It will all come together.

Suggested Reading: Doug

Norewegian Wood: Haruki Murakami

Prefer audio books like I do? Click here

The Idiot: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Prefer audio books like I do? Click here

Crime and Punishment: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Prefer audio books like I do? Click here

Suggested Reading: Marion

Middlesex: Jeffrey Eugenides

Prefer audio books like I do? Click here

The Road: Cormac McCarthy

Prefer audio books like I do? Click here

Same Kind of Different As Me: Ron Hall, Denver Moore, Lynn Vincent

Prefer audio books like I do? Click here

This segment of Parler: Table Topics was brought to you by contributions from Doug Smith. You can contact him through the following social media platform:

IG: @smittydj

Disclaimer: Vintage Traveling Nurse is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. It is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its partners. All recommendations of products and services listed in each blog post are my own.

2 comments on “Working at the Bedside as a Male Nurse

  1. Love reading about his journey in nursing. Keep up the great work!

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