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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

A Man’s Eye View: Nursing through the Years

Published February 8, 2017 11:20 AM by Guest Blogger

By Benjamin Evans, DD, DNP, RN, APN

Two score and 3 years ago (hmm, that would be 43), I graduated from my pre-licensure associate degree nursing program. I was 20-years-old and full of excitement about starting my career. Now, looking in the rear-view mirror at the other end of my nursing journey, I can say that while I am older, wider, wiser and experienced, it has been the correct path.

At age 20, I wanted to join the pediatric nursing staff. However, I was placed on a 50-bed, primarily male and geriatric unit because, as the director of nursing stated, "How would I justify the presence of a male nurse to the parents of young females?"

Of course, in my naiveté I responded that she could respond the same way she would to explain female nurses for young male patients. It wasn't accepted. A bit earlier, I remember being called aside by my orthopedic nursing instructor and told apologetically that I was not welcome in the nurses' lounge according to the Head Nurse. I was to use the orderly lounge two floors down in the hospital.

If only I were as savvy then as I am today about sexism and discrimination!

Of course, the other side of the coin was always this question from patients: "Are you my doctor?"

When I responded that I was the RN, the next question(s) invariably were, "When are you starting medical school?" or "Weren't you smart enough to go to medical school?"  Of course, there were also the frequent under the breath, but loud enough for me to hear, comments as I left some of the men's rooms -"***," "faggot."

I would never have envisioned that 43 years later I would have been an advanced practice nurse (NP certificate in 1979), an occupational health nurse, clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator for more than 30 years, nurse manager, director and associate vice president and served patients in areas of chronic, catastrophic illness (e.g. cancer, AIDS), addictions, general nursing and mental health. I also have my own practice that focuses on psychotherapy, medication management, counseling and educational programs.

Nor would I have envisioned being founding president of the Academy of Doctors of Nursing Practice in New Jersey, a member of the Hudson County Mental Health Board and an NJ Disaster Response Crisis Counselor, sitting on a national nursing specialty organization board and now serving as the president of a state nursing association under the American Nurses Association.

Nursing today is quite different from my initial years, and our profession has definitely become more inclusive and welcoming. As an educator, mentor and president of the New Jersey State Nurses Association, I plan to keep raising awareness and pushing the boundaries.

It has been some journey so far, and I can't wait to see what the next chapter brings. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Ben Evans is the first male president of the New Jersey State Nurses' Association. He also is an assistant professor in the graduate nursing program at Felician University.

 

3 comments

I have been in nursing and nursing education for more years than I would  like to admit! I do value having Dr. Evans as a colleague  and am very proud that he is our FIRST male President of NJSNA and on the faculty of our University.He has a wealth of experiences that provides our MSN and DNP students with unique learning opportunities. Congratulations Ben on all that you have achieved thus far - and for all that you will do for New Jersey and the Profession in your new leadership role!

Ann Tritak, Dept Graduate Nrsg - Associate Dean, Felician University February 14, 2017 4:58 PM
Lodi NJ

As a female RN with a BSN and a patient from time to time, I can say that the male nurses I have had take care of me in the past have been just as caring and kind as anyone could be. I believe they chose the right profession. When you are a patient, it just doesn't matter what the gender is. In fact, once when a female RN was having trouble starting an IV, I asked for the male RN who had helped me on a previous hospitalization. He came even though I wasn't assigned to him and did the job perfectly. I say Bravo for this man's achievements.

Helen, Retired February 14, 2017 4:14 PM
Fort Worth TX

Having graduated from HUP in 1958, I worked with male nurses

at the Pennsylvania Institute Psychiatric facility and must say, they

were all excellent nurses/caretakers and many went on to graduate

work, inc a friend who did get his doctorate and after serving in the

US Army taught at a university in our state - now that's THREE score

years ago (next year) and my school, before being forced to close due

to nearby University 4 year program, accepted men for some years!

I congratulate this young man (young from my perspective!) on his accomplishments!  Anne

Anne, served many - RN, retired February 14, 2017 2:00 PM
Lebanon PA

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