Confessions of a Male Nurse

We are male nurses. These are our confessions.

Why Did I Become A Male Nurse?

I get asked a lot of questions about why I entered into the nursing profession. I understand all the misconceptions. Yes, I get asked about my sexual orientation, and if I didn’t know any better, I would think that I am a “victim” of sexism. Would anyone in their right mind outwardly ask a woman why she chose to be a …? (Enter any profession that comes to mind here.)  So why should anyone question a man for wanting to be a nurse?

I am finally ready to let you in on my reasons:

I like the respect: I gave the Army four years. Then, I suffered, yet survived, nursing school with barely any sleep, any friends or any money.  I graduated. I passed the CA Nurse State Board. I gritted my teeth through the grind of clinicals. I did my time in the trenches as a new nurse grad. I have been an ICU nurse for the last thirteen years. I am about to take on the challenge of going back for my Masters. I am good at my job and I am proud of it. 

I am not a suit-and-tie kind of guy: I’m a lazy dresser. I am most comfortable in jeans and a pull over shirt. I hate shopping, and I hate the thought of wearing a tie every day. How uncomfortable is that? I like wearing scrubs. I like not having to think about what I have to wear to work. I like the fact that it takes me five minutes to get dressed. Oh, and I wear comfortable shoes to work.  

I like the hours: “Work hard, play hard” - this has always been my life’s motto. I don’t like banker’s hours or the typical 9-5. I like driving when there’s no one on the highway, when am scheduled the night shift, and I like getting up earlier than everyone else to start my day when I do work the day shift. I personally like working thirteen hour shifts. It gives me more time to do what I want to do when I am scheduled off. Three days on, four days off – hey, works for this guy!

I like the money: Let me be honest, I know a lot of guys out there busting their behinds doing harder labor for less than what I get paid. I’m a hard worker and I’m a good nurse. I may even get a few people to say that I am a great nurse. I earn my paycheck working in ICU. When duty calls, I am there for my shifts. When I am needed to pick up a few more hours or another shift for a co-worker who is sick or has to take care of her kids, I am there. Do I get paid more for the overtime? Yes. Do I get paid for shift differentials? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. 

I like feeling like a hero: My grandfather died of colon cancer in 1993. He was my hero. In his final months, it wasn’t his doctor who was there for him (no offense to my doctor friends), it was his nurse. It was she who was strong enough to see through the awkward and embarrassing moments, through the uncomfortable hours, through his excruciating pain. Through it all, she had a steely resolve to help him through it and to comfort him. He told me that SHE was his hero. 

I consider it my chosen “civic duty”:  Ask any fire fighter, cop or soldier what makes them do what they do. There is one common denominator; to make a difference in someone’s life: to protect, to save, to help or to heal.  Being a nurse is no different.   

Last but not least, I like my chances with the ladies:

Sue me. I am in a profession that is 90% female. If someone needs help turning/lifting a patient, allow me. In my scrubs and outside of work, I am sometimes mistaken for a doctor. Let me tell you, I use it in my favor… sometimes. Brains and brawn can only get me so far. I also have my boyish smile, my caring nature, and a great profession with endless possibilities. I know I am a catch. Is it wrong to want to add my phone number here?

So, my reasons may not always be “honorable”, but I challenge anyone to contest my commitment to my profession. Men have a long way to go to gain the respect of ALL our female counterparts, the rest of the healthcare profession and the public in general, but as the old saying goes, “We’ve come a long way, baby!” - I’ll hold off on the high fives and the butt slaps. 

By Jake S., RN, NurseTogether contributor



Anonymous asked: There are some interesting facts and stories on here! I would love it if you posted more. :)

Thank you! Feel free to submit as well






History Of Male Nursing

Although women outnumber men in the nursing profession today, this was not always the case. Men in the military traditionally cared for the sick. In parts of the Arab world, only men were considered capable of public nursing. The first school of nursing, founded around 250 B.C. in India, only accepted men. Men only were considered to be pure enough to touch patients, women were not. They were trained in every aspect of care, including: cooking, bathing, feeding, massaging limbs, assisting in walking and movement, and making beds. For years men were the main medical practitioners, delivering care to patients and nursing the sick back to health.

During the American civil war nursing volunteers cared for the soldiers wounded in battle. Both the Confederate and the Union Armies had teams of nurses – male and female – contributing to the war effort. Although mostly the women are noted as nurses, there were hundreds of men who gave much needed medical attention to fallen soldiers. Walt Whitman, a famous writer and poet, left his pursuit of the literary arts in favor of nursing. Even though a number of men such as Whitman ventured into the nursing profession, their numbers would decline in Europe and North America for over a century.

Florence Nightingale, despite her reforms that transformed healthcare, may have also reduced the role of male involvement in nursing. 

-By BNurse

Perspective in Nursing…What if?


What if, for just a month, a week, or even perhaps a day; management were to walk in the shoes of a bedside nurse? Would they be so adamant about floating nurses when it is already short? Would they be surprised to learn that there isn’t actually quality of care when patient loads are increased to the point where patient safety, as well as nurse efficacy are compromised? Would they consider giving us more ancillary staff instead of taking them away, citing budget cuts? Would they throw caution to the wind, and allow just one more nurse on every shift? Would they be tolerant of a lack of vital sign machines or other basic important supplies? Would they empathize with the frustrations of just wanting to slow down the “speed nursing” and just concentrate on the simplicities that benefit the patient? Would they understand that there isn’t job satisfaction or respect when workers aren’t appreciated, or validated for their frontline insight on what might actually work? Would they appreciate having a charge nurse without a patient load of their own, free to help all the other nurses? Would they value the isolated moments they are able to get out on time? Would they go home and lay awake at night considering all the things they wished they could do for their patients if they just had a little more time or support? Would they worry that they missed something important? Would they remember what it’s actually like to be that family member, or patient whose care is at times not what it could be - would they remember what it’s like to be a bedside nurse?

Our leaders were (likely) once bedside nurses, or other medical professionals; they have likely endured the same workplace conflicts, the same heartaches from losing a patient, the same joys from being involved in saving a life - or just actually being able to spend time with a patient, and the same intense frustrations at being expected to compromise patient care for the sake of the hospital looking good on paper. We sure do understand it’s not easy managing, or leading, we understand that Magnet status is important - we want that too. We are so thankful for the opportunity to do what we love every single day. We are very thankful to be employed, but maybe at times fear retribution if we speak up. We love being a nurse - we just want to take care of patients without unnecessary administrative complications. We know what it’s like to have people demand things, so we refrain in empathy, but our being quiet doesn’t mean we aren’t affected. This isn’t opinion; it’s the ordinary struggles of everyday nurses around the world, who likely just go in to do the best they can, work with what they have, and intermittently voice the the things they hope to change, if someone would just listen. It’s not personal, we’re not asking that they like us, but we are asking for a little respect of our thoughts, and every now and then for leadership to take a step back just to examine it from our point of view, a little less talk - a little more action. We are bedside nurses, we certainly understand it’s impossible to please everyone - so we are not asking they do; but we are asking that they would consider the perspective from the person who’s at the bottom of the food chain - the patient’s advocate.


Inside Military Nursing

2011 marked my 10th year as a nurse. Those years have been marked by personal and professional accomplishments. However, this was not always the case. In fact, my nursing career was almost never a career to begin with.

After graduating with honors, I had a great sense of pride and confidence. Perhaps I had too much self-confidence. As a result, I failed miserably with my nursing board exam. Worse, I blamed everything and anything but myself. Having failed this exam almost cost me my job and the opportunity to become a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. My mentality relied heavily on the fact that I was going to be a nurse. I intended to be an outstanding nurse, just like the hundreds of outstanding nurses of Asian/Filipino descent who came before me.

Yet, I assumed I could pass the nursing board exam without really studying or working for it. Well, lesson learned. An expensive lesson, I should add. Had I not eventually passed my nursing board exam, I would have been looking at an employer recoupment of about $20,000. Ouch! The good news is that I was able to overcome this barrier just in time.

Rookie nurse

I began my career in a military nursing at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, and my goals were simple: learn as much as possible and don’t make mistakes with potentially dire consequences (e.g., a medication error). Not so different from civilian nursing, really!

I remember that rookie year vividly. Looking back, I am still not sure how I was able to succeed in such a demanding work environment. I was assigned as a staff nurse at a 28-bed medical-surgical unit. By far, we were the busiest nursing unit in our 250-bed facility. Every day was non-stop action. It felt like my heart rate increased by at least 10 beats per minute every time I set foot in the unit. It seemed like we never slowed down—and the tempo was dizzying. I would typically have six patients with an assistant. For any given shift, my duties would consist of AM care, vitals, assessment, medications, and procedures. I also had to coordinate MRI visits, CT consults, and X-ray availability while calling for discharge medications in pharmacy. No matter how physically and mentally prepared I tried to be, it was hard to maintain a sense of control. There were times that I was so stressed I literally made myself sick. Basic nursing skills such as prioritization of patients and critical-thinking skills were learned on the go. I wouldn’t exactly call it chaos. But it was close.

Yet, as crazy as it may sound, I actually did not mind it one bit. It’s the truth. One of the reasons was that I had great mentors around me. I used to look around our nursing unit and realized my nursing colleagues were more than willing to help, no matter what. Perhaps it was our sense of teamwork. Or it could have been our dedication to military nursing and our patients. Whatever it was, it didn’t take me long to realize that I had made the right career move. Unlike my civilian nursing colleagues, I have had the unique opportunity to care for patients who have served and are serving this great nation. It is a feeling like no other. To come in on a daily basis and know that I am part of something meaningful is incredible. This couldn’t have been more evident than after the events of September 11, 2001.

I was actually on my way to work when I heard of the terrorist attacks. Not knowing much at the time, I just remember thinking that my nursing skills were about to become a commodity, whether I was ready or not. It was a fearful and uncertain time for everyone, almost surreal to think that such an attack was even humanly possible. I just remember hearing from my supervisors, “Be ready.” There was a good chance most of us were bound for deployment overseas. Soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen were counting on us to provide the best patient care possible under all circumstances. As it turns out, I was actually one of the nurses that ended up staying behind during the early stages of the war. Nevertheless, it was professionally fulfilling. It provided a great way for me to contribute. For the next few years, I found myself in various nursing assignments, from California to Japan. I have been blessed to grow professionally and gain a better perspective of my overall purpose as a military nurse.

Military minority

Like some people find their niche in a nursing specialty like pediatrics or oncology, I have found that being a military nurse has its own advantages. I work with an outstanding team. From physicians to social workers, it is a rewarding experience to collaborate and gain a sense of unity. This is especially important as nurses and the rest of the health care team are tasked to care for patients with complex disease processes. More importantly, my service to active-duty patients and beneficiaries truly defines who I am as a nurse. Whether I am teaching a dependent spouse about healthier eating habits or holding a patient’s hand and praying with him before a major surgery, I am there to give it my all. Because, chances are, they would do the same for me. And that alone is what matters most. In a sense, we are more than just a family. We are united as one.

Of course, to say my military nursing career has been nothing but great experiences wouldn’t be entirely accurate. I can recall one incident when caring for a retired military member. He rang his call bell for assistance. When I walked in to his room, he said, “I’m sorry, but I had asked for a nurse.” I politely answered that I would be the one taking care of him for the night. He quickly replied, “No, no, no. I asked for a nurse—the one who has blonde hair, blue eyes, and wears a nice skirt.” Obviously, I could have reacted in a negative manner. Rather, I chose to remain calm and respectfully informed him that not all nurses are females with blonde hair. Somewhat perplexed, the patient quickly changed the topic and turned his attention to the television. I did not feel anger towards that particular patient; all I could think of was trying to find ways to help him understand the evolving nature of nursing, which now consists of men as well as Asian/Filipino nurses like me.

As troubling as that patient’s reaction seemed at first, I truly felt he came to realize that male nurses were more than able and capable of caring for patients like him. Though he never said so directly, I just had a feeling. And if nothing else, I know my serving as his nurse was a concrete example that contradicted his former world-view.

The common thread

Nursing is an ever-evolving profession. And changes in our health care delivery system will happen, regardless. The past 10 years of nursing have taught me valuable lessons. For one, I have learned to remain humble. I have also learned to not take things personally when it comes to patient comments. Granted, some comments are downright ignorant and hurtful. But, I believe there is a common thread and human decency in everyone. As a military nurse, I am proud to be a part of their lives. In particular, I am proud to know that I have been given ample opportunities to touch lives and care for my patients. I never imagined I would be in the position to make an impact on someone’s life. Personally, those few minutes of comforting patients during the worst of times have turned to a lifetime of personal and professional satisfaction.

Yet, as with any profession, nursing is not for everybody. I have friends and colleagues who left nursing. I think some of the more common reasons for doing so were the stress of the patient workload and the lack of support from nursing leaders. Being a minority nurse, my advice is to truly and honestly evaluate one’s dedication and intention before committing to nursing. Nursing is a great and well-respected profession, but it does come with its challenges. For example, there have been times when I feared for my safety when caring for patients with developmental delays and mental instability. In addition, minority nurses may still encounter racial and ethnic stereotypes.

Once, a patient bluntly asked if all Filipino nurses speak Tagalog among one another in front of non-Filipino patients. Taken aback, I informed her that no, that is not the case. They only speak their native language during their off-duty time. In another instance, when reporting to my new supervisor (who happened to be a minority), she said, “I can already see two things that are against you. You’re an Asian and a male.” In the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, we value diversity and strongly feel that concept results in a better work environment for all of our valued staff members, regardless of their race or color. Yet, we, as a health care organization, also understand that we are at risk for discrimination. The good news is that we have a solid support structure that enhances equal opportunity for all.

I learned there remains a small group of people in the nursing world who are who they are and believe what they believe, and there’s no changing them. More importantly, I learned the value of self-discipline while serving my patients at the most honorable level. Ignorance and immaturity exist in this world, but we, as minority nurses, have more than the power and ability to achieve the highest levels in long, fulfilling careers. We should not and cannot allow minor setbacks to dictate who we can become as professionals—we are simply too valuable to the profession. I have always seen nursing as a rewarding career, personally and professionally. Joining the nursing ranks seemed like a no-brainer. And, in general, my expectations of camaraderie, mentorship, and professional development have been met.

Who knows what the next 10 years will bring? I may pursue other interests such as golfing and traveling across the globe. I may even find myself teaching at a local university. I am okay with the unknown that lies ahead when it comes to my career as a military nurse. The one thing that I am certain about is that I will continue to strive in providing the best patient care. The ability to make a difference in patients’ lives means a lot to me. And sometimes, that is all you need. Here’s to another 10 years!

Shared by Joseph D. Hacinas, R.N., M.S.N., C.N.S., P.H.N. Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy Nurse Corps 


cherimoyabliss91 asked: I don't mean to hate (hence why I didn't bother with anon) but your list of pros/cons about male nurses seem to not actually have anything to do with being a nurse, for example since you're a man everyone is pleasantly surprised when they see how caring you are and you get extra points or something like that. Personally, I love male nurses myself because they are caring men! But the list was slightly irksome because you're like men, muscles. Men, no uterus. Men, don't care for baby.

I appreciate the feedback. First of all, thank you for your respect and admiration for male nurses. I agree with you in regards that each gender has its own pros and cons when it comes to any subject i.e pregnancy may be stressful for the mother, but the father may also have his perceptions of struggles. It is just a point of view from a male nurse trying to shed some light on what his reality & his experience is and has been to help encourage more men to think of nursing as a career choice. 

Thank you again for your thoughts and welcome more of these comments in the future!